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  41:3 (01-02 /2018)
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Reviewer: J. F. Weber

The musical compositions of Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179) are preserved in two manuscripts, both available in facsimile. Dendermonde, Ms. Cod. 9, which Hildegard sent to the Cistercian monks at Villers (Brabant) shortly before her death, contains 58 symphoniae. Wiesbaden, Hs. 2, the Riesencodex, compiled at her abbey Rupertsberg about the same time and completed within a decade of her death, contains in 481 leaves nearly all of her musical and non-musical writings, including 75 of the 77 symphoniae (the other two are unique to Dendermonde). Recorded performances have been evenly divided between accompanied and unaccompanied singing, and even in a single program both approaches are heard. Here the three instruments are unobtrusive, for Kabátková uses nine singers, two harps, and a dulce melos. One piece is played on the three instruments, unusual in Hildegard programs. The chants include some of the more frequently recorded of Hildegard’s works; the least familiar is O beata infantia, an antiphon for St. Disibod recorded only four times until now. The selection from the morality play Ordo Virtutum begins near the end of the fourth section and runs to the end of the fifth and final section.

The singing is exquisite. The voices of the Czech singers are lovely and blend well, with solo assignments carried out elegantly. The program includes a few additional pieces, three conductus (one of them instrumental), and a psalm, Domine Dominus noster, that concludes the program. The last is unfortunate, for it is sung solo in the fourth mode with harp accompaniment, a style that would find no place either in or out of the liturgy. But the disc is valuable for the Hildegard selections, and it is worth hearing for that reason.

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