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Edda; Medieval Myths - A World Premiere Recording!

4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 25 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Music
  • Run Time: 77.00 minutes
  • ASIN: B00000IFOM
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #32,294 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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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)

Product Description

Product Description

Edda: An Icelandic Saga - Myths From Medieval Iceland


Sequentia here performs a miracle of musical restoration, bringing to vibrant life medieval Icelandic texts about gods and heroes inhabiting a mythic past. Drawing on oral traditions and informed scholarly speculations about long-dead performing styles, they have come up with a hypnotic disc that startles with its power and beauties. The songs and recitations are interwoven with captivating fiddle tunes, and the singers wrench surprising emotions from the old texts. The late Barbara Thornton shines in her solos and duets, and Benjamin Bagby's mesmerizing chanting, recitation, and singing brings us as close as we're likely to get to sitting at the feet of the bards of old. An extraordinary disc that shouldn't be missed. --Dan Davis

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This a truly remarkable disc. The Sequentia group has long been one of my favourite groups; I count myself fortunate to have many of their discs featuring the vocal talents of Barbara Thornton, who unfortunately passed away during the final phase of this production; her gift to the world in song lives on in recordings such as this, a stunning presentation of music from history that is often forgotten in the modern world.
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.
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Format: Audio CD
Unless you own some of the "Vox Iberia" CDs, you may associate Sequentia almost exclusively with the music of Hildegard von Bingen, and it is true that as of late the group seems to have been Hildegard-obsessed. Some critics went so far to claim that Sequentia was cashing in on the Hildegard craze of the 1990's, although I think that is a bit unfair. However, one was beginning to wonder if we would ever see another non-Hildegard recording from Sequentia.
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.
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Format: Audio CD
It doesn't hurt to have read the myths beforehand, to know Voluspa--at least a translation of the material. But, even without knowing what is going on, the beauty of this music invites one to wander into a different mindspace. The computer can fade away. The CD player--gone.
Now, sitting around the fire, listen to the Edda (grandmother) tell the stories. Tonight the wind doesn't howl so loudly, the snow isn't so cold, bards have joined Edda to remind us of the tales of our heritage.
Is this what our distant Viking kin used to listen to back in their great halls? Absent sound recordings, we'll never know for sure. I do miss the percussion I've heard on other recordings of ancient music.
The stark simplicity of this music compels. "Listen to me!" Hear the words of the Witch, of Voluspa. Hear the tale of Thrym, who steals Thor's hammer and gets taken in by a ruse. "Balder's Dreams" haunts the listener, who knows Balder's fate.
It's interesting to spend 76 minutes listening to this music, then to drop Wagner onto the CD player. The contrast, from the spartan Icelandic music to the richness of the 19th century compositions, can cause a brainquake!
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Format: Audio CD
Myths From Medieval Iceland is the best slice of Nordic culture since Iceland's Bjørk Gudmundsdottir burst on the pop scene with her band Sugarcubes. Seriously, this recording of exerpts from the Edda are executed with as much passion as Sequentia ever put in to recording the entire works of Hildegard von Bingen. The universal appeal of this work was verified by one of my clarinet students when he took this and 5 other examples of Medieval music to give a presentation in an English class. The Icelandic offering was the clear favorite among TEENAGERS! The prophesies of the Seeress seem to be the favorite tracks, but I am always fascinated by the instrumental pieces where Elizabeth Gaver (fiddles) and Benjamin Bagby (harp/lyre) masterfully reconstruct melodic fragments with improvisations. The result is hypnotic. It is heartbreaking that the world lost Sequentia's co-founder Barbara Thornton during the final editing phase of this recording. She had such a perfect balance between historically informed performance practices and delivering work with unbridled passion. What a loss. We are truly fortunate that she left behind such immaculate work as this. I hope that Mr. Bagby and Ms. Gaver will continue their work. They are true leaders in the Medieval music field.
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