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Jan Garbarek/Hilliard Ensemble: Mnemosyne

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Recorded at the monastery of St. Gerold, an astounding resonating chamber in the Austrian mountains, this second melding of early vocal music and improvised saxophone (a followup to 1995’s Officium) is another artistic triumph that organically straddles the jazz-classical fence. Garbarek and the Hilliard singers cover a wider scope of music this time out, drawing on repertoire ranging from “Delphic Paean” of Athenaeus, circa 127 B.C., a 16th-century Scottish “Remember Me My Dear” to a modern “Estonian Lullaby” and the Garbarek original “Loiterando.” And the results are often breathtakingly beautiful.

Garbarek brings a stronger improvising aesthetic to this second encounter. His keening soprano sax blends magically, almost eerily with countertenor David James on “Hymn to the Sun” from 2nd-century Greece, “Novus Novus” from 13th century France and also on “Quechua Song,” a Peruvian folk song fragment. He stretches forcefully with icy blasts from his soprano on the drone-oriented Hildegard von Bingen composition “O Ignis Spiritus” and breaks out the tenor sax for only one piece on this two-CD set, a 16th-century “Russian Lullaby.”

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