Mnemosyne is an intriguing mix of the old and the new: the legendary Hilliard Ensemble performing a wide selection of music ranging from Dufay to Tallis to Peruvian or Native American sources accompanied by Jan Garbarek who provides a modern backdrop with his saxophone improvisations.
Garbarek does not so much solo as provide ornamentation to the works. Weaving in and around the vertical writing and austere nature of the written music, Garbarek appears as a musician soaring in and around the formal patterns of the vocal parts.
One of the more adventurous couplings is 'Delphic Poem' wherein the fusion of saxophone and voices comes across first as a sonic, meditative wash of sound and then later accompanied by some wild flights from Garbarek. Other standouts include 'Mascarades' for Garbarek's foghorn-like effects and 'Eagle Dance' for the Native American styling from both the wordless setting of the Hilliard and Garbarek's florid emulation of birdcalls. Stark, spare, and evocative are the key words to sum up this masterful collection.
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