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Berit Opheim, Anna Maria Friman, Linn Fuglseth
The brilliant Scandinavian singers of Trio Mediæval have created a fascinating and unique world of sound, which they portray with unerring virtuosity. Founded in 1997 in Oslo, Trio Mediæval has a specialised repertoire of ballads and songs from the Norwegian Middle Ages and polyphonic music from medieval England, France and Italy that the three singers arrange themselves, as well as contemporary works written specifically for the ensemble.
Trio Mediæval's first CD on ECM Records, Words of the Angel, immediately reached Billboard's Top 10 Bestseller list and was made the Stereophile "Recording of the Month" in April 2002. Further releases on ECM followed in 2004 with Soir, dit-elle and in 2005 with Stella Maris. In October 2007 the trio’s long-awaited CD of Norwegian ballads and songs entitled Folk Songs was released and immediately received enthusiastic reviews. Folk Songs was nominated for a Grammy Award for "Best Chamber Music Performance" the following year. Their recording A Worcester Ladymass was selected by the German Record Critics’ Award as one of the best new releases in the "Early Music" category and was met again with the highest critical acclaim. The Trio Mediæval’s latest album Aquilonis was released in November 2014 on ECM.
Trio Mediæval has performed throughout Europe in prestigious venues such as the Oslo Concert Hall, Bozar in Brussels, De Doelen Rotterdam, Muziekgebouw aan’t IJ Amsterdam, London’s Wigmore Hall and the Wiener Konzerthaus, as well as at renowned festivals, among them the Cheltenham Music Festival, Snape Proms/Aldeburgh Music, SWR RheinVokal Festival, Schwetzinger SWR Festival, Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Niedersächsische Musiktage and the Dresden Music Festival. Several engagements have also taken them beyond Europe, including performances at the Hong Kong Arts Festival and Carnegie Hall.
The trio collaborates with a multitude of contemporary composers including Gavin Bryars, Ivan Moody, Oleh Harkavyy and Andrew Smith. As a result of their co-operation with Michael Gordon, Julia Wolfe and David Lang, and with the musikFabrik Cologne, the trio premiered Shelter, its biggest multi-media contemporary music project to date. Shelter premiered in Cologne in 2005 and was fully staged the same year at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Julia Wolfe was so fascinated by the Trio Mediæval’s voices that she wrote a piece for them entitled Steel Hammer. Together with the Bang on a Can All-Stars the trio premiered Steel Hammer in New York's Carnegie Hall in November 2009 and revived this programme again in 2013 in Bruges, Uppsala and at the Barbican Centre London. Steel Hammer was released on CD in April 2014 on Cantaloupe Music. The new recordings of John Adam’s Grand Pianola Music with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and the GrauSchumacher Piano Duo, as well as new works by David Lang and Betty Olivero will be available soon.
In the 2016/17 season the singers will premiere their latest CD programme Aquilonis in the USA, returning to the Carnegie Hall among other venues, and will also present it on tour in the Netherlands. Furthermore they will release a new recording entitled RIMUR together with the trumpet player Arve Henriksen on ECM.
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And lyrically striking – the three beautifully matched female voices of Trio Mediaeval intone a list of possessions gleaned from the Biblical Song of Songs, each prefixed by formulas such as ‘just your…’ or ‘and my…’. A finely balanced instrumental trio of violist Garth Knox, cellist Agnès Vesterman and percussionist Sylvain Lemêtre supplies just the right amount of punctuation and counterpoint – bass drum strokes, snatches of plucked cello, a plaintive viola descant – the effect is mesmeric.
The Journal of Music, Garrett Sholdice, 16/09/2015
If you've been lucky enough to hear Trio Mediaeval in concert you will have experienced something very special: a sense of being a privileged participant in a timeless, numinous ritual, enveloped by voices that seem like some celestial exhalation yet brim with real human warmth and sensuousness. (...) Transitions between centuries are achieved seamlessly, naturally and imperceptibly, while juxtapositions of music from Iceland, Italy and England complement each other rather than clash. Enchanting individually and as a unit, Anna Maria Friman, Linn Andrea Fuglseth and Berit Opheim produce exquisite, shimmering, luminous lines, subtly underpinned in places by Hardanger fiddle (Friman), portable organ (Fuglseth) and melody chimes (all three).
BBC Music Magazine, June 2015
Trio Mediaeval have light, flexible, pristinely tuned voices, warm expressivity and the taste to produce ravishing soundscapes out of dry-as-dust plainchant and ancestral Nordic folktunes without sentimentalising the material.
The Times, January 2015
Pure joy from the beginning to the end. (…) Harmonised in every detail, the Trio impressed with excellently skilled and well-modulated voices which moved effortlessly between articulation and Belcanto.
Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung, Gert Deppe, 2/5/2013
It has been well worth the wait. A Worcester Ladymass is a glorious experience (…) Taken as a whole, this album is an absolute delight. Whether you simply want to wallow in a wave of seductive tones, or sit up and revel in the superbly-rendered polyphonic complexities, Trio Mediaeval ensure that the experience will be a wonderfully enriching one.
BBC.co.uk, Graham Rogers, 11/3/2011
These three voices blended with a supernatural clarity and beauty that might cause even a confirmed agnostic to contemplate a spark of divinity in these centuries-old manuscripts.
The New York Times, 26/11/2008
Light, beautifully tuned voices, wonderful dynamic variety, perfect rapport, imaginative presentation – a true masterclass in a cappella singing. (…) Beg, borrow, steal or (preferably) buy their CDs on the ECM label.
The Times, Richard Morrison, 10/7/2008
The trio have breathtaking purity of intonation along with their all-but-vibratoless tone. Harmonies course with flowing exactness; unisons are flat-out uncanny. (…) The group opted more for shades of delicacy, rounding off phrases with a jeweller’s precision, letting their timbre gently ride the church's reverberation rather than cutting through it.
The Boston Globe, Matthew Guerrieri, 3/4/2007
Trio Mediaeval; Arve Henriksen, trumpet
ECM, 2017, 4814742
Francis Poulenc - Colin McPhee - John Adams
GrauSchumacher Piano Duo; Trio Mediæval; Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin; Brad Lubman, conductor
NEOS 2017, 21703
Sinikka Langeland, Arve Henriksen, Trygve Seim, Anders Jormin, Markku Ounaskari, Trio Mediaeval
ECM Records, 2016
Trio Mediaeval, Garth Knox, Agnes Vèsterman, Sylvain Lemêtre, Cliona Doris
Louth Contemporary Music Society, LCMS1502
ECM Records, 2014, ECM New Series 2416
Trio Mediaeval; Bang on a Can All-Stars
Cantaloupe Music, 2014
ECM Records, 2011, ECM New Series 2166
Trio Mediaeval; Birger Mistereggen, percussion, Jew's harp
ECM Records, 2007, ECM New Series 2003
ECM Records, 2005, ECM New Series 1929
ECM Records, 2004, ECM New Series 1869
ECM Records, 2002, ECM New Series 1753