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Mnemosyne Box set, Import

4.5 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Multimedia CD, 1999
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The 1st collaboration between The Hilliard Ensemble & Jan Garbarek, Officium, was hailed as an artistic triumph, storming onto classical, jazz and pop charts worldwide (and subsequently selling over a million copies). Over the last 5 years, they have played hundreds of concerts and recently documented the 2nd chapter of their musical journey. The double album, Mnemosyne (pronounced neh-MOSS-in-ee), is broader in scope than it's predecessor, including expanded improvisation.

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It's been six years since these same performers got together to create one of the decade's more unusual experiments in musical alchemy. Beginning with the raw materials of early music and modern jazz, the four male voices of the Hilliard Ensemble joined with jazz saxophonist Jan Garbarek to see what would happen when the proper measure of old music and new style were combined, shaped by the performers' considerable experience and collective aesthetic vision. The success of that recording, titled Officium, and subsequent concert performances paved the way for this second effort, continuing the performers' search for artistically meaningful, musically satisfying combinations of written music and improvisatory elements. The odd title of the new recording comes from a mystical poem by Friedrich Hölderlin, quoted in the liner notes and accompanied by pictures from Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal. Officium aficionados will notice that Mnemosyne is even more adventurous in its explorations, which range farther and farther from the printed page. Musical fragments and a general outline are the starting points for several pieces. Improvisation is more frequently and freely employed, but always adheres to an agreed stylistic framework. Alongside a Tallis hymn or a chant by Hildegard, we hear Iroquois and Peruvian song fragments, an ancient Greek tune, and a beautiful lullaby by Veljo Tormis. Garbarek's tasteful improvisations are appropriate additions, inspired commentaries. The Hilliards are even better than on Officium; their awareness and sensitivity brings everything together into a truly unified expression that shows the timelessness of music and reminds us that where rhythm, melody, and musical imagination join, different styles, centuries, and genres are not necessarily obstacles to compatibility. --David Vernier
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 5, 1999)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Box set, Import
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: ECM Records
  • ASIN: B00000K2AC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,140 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
A fantastic journey through time and space, ranging from ancient Greece to present-day compositions by Garbarek. No less spirited than Officium, but much more varied. Whereas Officium was very much the Hilliards with Garbarek adding (at times rather exhibitionist) comments, here they play together almost as a band - and what a band! With beautiful packaging and stunning production, this is immensely enjoyable and uplifting.
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Format: Audio CD
I was fortunate enough to see Garbarek and the Hillard Ensemble perform pieces from this disc in Tokyo; one of the true surprises and delights of the evening (which I haven't found on the CD yet) was Garbarek's decision to quote from Albert Ayler's "Ghosts" on one piece. You might wonder with a classical vocal group who focus on early music and modern avant-garde choral composition have to do with Albert Ayler -- it seems a difficult gap to bridge. Hearing this two disc set will do much to make it clear. There is something genuinely spiritually uplifting in this music; it never approaches the New Agey wallpaper of Garbarek's weakest disc, VISIBLE WORLD, however -- it's not a tritened, mass-consumable spirituality at work here. There is grief, suffering, sorrow, pain, and fear acknowledged and embraced in this music; and yet it is still life affirming and inspiring (and beautiful to dream to). The spiritual aspect of Ayler's music, of free jazz itself, deserved the acknowledgement; Ayler was one of the most spiritually uplifting jazzmen of the movement, which often spoke in the idiom of the spiritual -- it would have been just as well (though far less moving, somehow, and far less musically appropriate) to quote "A Love Supreme"). Don't be worried by the unusual combination of jazz and classical elements; as another reviewer notes, Garbarek's voice blends in perfectly with the rest of the group, sounds a part of the whole. You'll forget that choral music usually doesn't include a soprano sax in a surprisingly short time. (Note - Garbarek brought a tenor to do the Ayler bit; I really don't know if it's on these discs, as I haven't listened to them in completion yet, but he does play tenor sax on them, so we can hope). Highly recommended stuff.Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
Officium proved to be a surprisingly popular collection that got lots of air play and plenty of word of mouth publicity. To their credit, neither the record company nor the artists rushed to record a follow-up in an attempt to cash in commercially on Officium's popularity. Instead, Garbarek and The Hilliard Ensemble continued to work together from time to time, slowly adding to their familiarity with each other and jointly discovering new music to add to their repertoire. Finally, several years later, ECM released a new two-CD set featuring this uniquely talented ensemble.

This time around, the music is more varied, with compositions ranging from old to new, from strictly composed to mostly improvisational. Officium maintained a fairly consistent musical mood throughout, while Mnemosyne is more varied in its musical and emotional content. Some will find the new recording refreshingly eclectic, while others may miss the focused vision of the earlier release.

Both recordings were made in the same venue, a monastery, and the sound quality of the new release is exemplary. Mnemosyne is an extraordinary venture that showcases the talents of these extraordinary musicians as they venture into new and sometimes uncharted musical territory.
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
This album is great in all of the ways that my fellow reviewers have so eloquently stated so I won't try to expand upon their praise. My one issue with this album is the same issue I have with many Garbarek albums. The saxophone is simply too high in the mix. During his beautifully complementary swells the saxophone creeps in and then proceeds to overpower the voices. I don't know if it's an ego thing or what but this (in my opinion) mixing flaw is present throughout much of the Garbarek catalog. Otherwise a beautiful collection of deeply spiritual music.
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Format: Audio CD
Though I am not much of an expert in music as to write a good review, I have enjoyed Jan Garbarek's saxo for many years now, and most recently his previous work with the Hilliard Ensemble, "Officium".

What else can I say?

Just imagine a cold winter's night (and nights are cold these day in the Southern Hemisphere), cudled inside your home, by the fireplace, with the company of a good book, smoking your pipe, sipping some good french brandy and listening this marvelous music.

What else can compare to such an experience?

Tomás Linn
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Format: Audio CD
This album is pure bliss. Garbarek's soaring saxaphone playing accents and brings passion to the already rich and wonderful midieval choral pieces. Although the sax's melody lines are similar from certain tracks to certain tracks, I couldn't get tired of listening to this CD.
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Format: Audio CD
* Officium ~ Jan Garbarek, Hilliard Ensemble Audio CD (1994)
* Mnemosyne / Garbarek, Hilliard Ensemble Audio CD (1999)
* Officium Novum ~ Jan Garbarek, Hilliard Ensemble Audio CD (2010)

I am posting the same review for all three CD's in this long-term trilogy created over a number of years by Jan Garbarek and the Hilliard Ensemble, as I don't have other words to describe this incredible music. I have been listing nonstop all through Easter Weekend and it is changing my world. Soul searching and soul healing of the very best kind. Thank you so much ~ with music like this, no matter what our circumstances, we have much to be grateful for! And much to yearn for, as we wait to rise to eternity, which awaits us all.

1. Officium

2. Mnemosyne / Garbarek, Hilliard Ensemble

3. Officium Novum

Different kinds of music appeals to different part of our selves & our souls.

The basest instincts attract the majority of people (like wrestling, basketball, strippers, game shows etc); then we have the artistic & more spiritually evolved souls, of which there are fewer on the physical plane. Sometimes I think this is a training ground or classroom & as we learn we are able to pass on.

Garbarek with the Hilliard Ensemble is on his way to heaven soon. He is obviously born with "feet in two worlds." The trilogy they have created with these three CD's is remarkable in it's length and breadth of combining the world with the heavens above.
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