- Audio CD (May 25 1999)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Import
- Label: Sme
- ASIN: B00000IFOM
- Other Editions: Audio CD
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
|1. Myths From Medieval Iceland: Leikr elds ok isa (The Song Of Fire And Ice)|
|2. Myths From Medieval Iceland: Veit ek at ek hekk (Odinn's Rune-verses)|
|3. Myths From Medieval Iceland: Hliods bid ek allar (The Prophecy Of The Seeress)|
|4. Myths From Medieval Iceland: Vreidr var pa Ving-Porr (The Tale Of Prymr)|
|5. Myths From Medieval Iceland: Nu erum komnar (The Song Of The Mill)|
|6. Myths From Medieval Iceland: Baldrs minni (In Memory Of Baldr)|
|7. Myths From Medieval Iceland: Senn voru aesir allir a pingi (Baldr's Dreams)|
|8. Myths From Medieval Iceland: Pat man hon folkvig (The Prophecy Of The Seeress)|
|9. Myths From Medieval Iceland: Ragnarok (The End Of The Gods)|
|10. Myths From Medieval Iceland: A fellr austan um eitrdala (The Prophecy Of The Seeress)|
Iceland is a country that was settled by the Norse explorers hundreds of years before the Norman Conquest of Britain, and half a millennium before Columbus sailed across the Atlantic. The Norse explorations of the North Atlantic took them to Britain, Greenland, and even to the North American continent centuries before the arrival of Columbus. Iceland was settled in the late 800s, with a parliament being established in 930 which helped guide their culture and religion. However, Icelandic culture was never centralised in political or religious terms, and the pagan religion of Norse/Germanic gods and goddesses was a free-form body of stories that could be reinterpreted by communities and clans quite easily.
The epic work Edda, which exists from the thirteenth century in writing in both prose and poetry, is the basis of this disc. These works pre-date the manuscript by many centuries, perhaps even the settlement of Iceland itself. Like many epic works in the ancient world, they were passed down by oral tradition long before being committed to writing. The Eddic poems include heroic poems (think Beowulf) as well as poems about gods and goddesses - it is ironic that the deities in these works are often more 'down-to-earth' and human than are the heroes.
The way in which ancient poems would have been performed is always a matter of debate. There are different ways of thinking about how they should be performed, but in the end, it is guesswork (albeit educated guesswork). Add to this that there is probably no fixed way in which performances were done in the past in any event, and one must rely on instinct for the words, the lyrical quality, and what knowledge we do have of the way in which music and poetry was performed.
The liner notes for this disc have an essay by Benjamin Bagby discussing the recreation of the Eddic performance. This looks a vocal and contextual issues, as well as instrumentation; Elizabeth Glaver adds information on this point.
Sequentia was formed in 1977, and has been dedicated to recreating works of ancient and medieval music, including the work of Hildegard of Bingen, Spanish medieval music, and other major works. They have had an extensive recording, performance and broadcast career.
This particular work is full of mystery and strong tones. The music itself is very simple in structure in many ways, but also gives a rich and full experience. As one reviewer notes, there is a similarity of performance here to plainchant on the continent of Europe from the same time period. The language is a wonder to behold, despite the ambiguity in understanding how Old Icelandic was actually pronounced.
This is a great story, and a great musical treat.
Well by golly, a rendition of the Icelandic Eddas is going in a direction about as far from Hildegard as one can get. It is certainly nice to see Sequentia exploring new ground again.
These are certainly much more stark arrangements than one might expect from Sequentia, but the nature of the Eddas certainly demands it. The arrangements definitely work, and the results are compelling. Familiarity with the Eddic poems is helpful but hardly essential, as knowledge of Icelandic.
What I especially enjoyed, as a hardingfele enthusiast, is Sequentia's decision to turn to the Norwegian hardingfele tradition when constructing the instrumental music on this disc. I can only hope that listening to "Edda" might lead some curious listeners to explore the wonderful sounds of the hardingfele as it exists now in modern Norway.
This is a great change of pace for Sequentia, and is most welcome. It isn't that I hate Hildegard, but through the 1990's we have had more Hildegard recordings than we can shake a stick at, but not much attention being paid to the Eddic tradition. It is nice to see Sequentia filling this void.