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The Hilliard Ensemble: Garbarek – Officium (APE)

The Hilliard Ensemble: Garbarek - Officium (APE)
The Hilliard Ensemble: Garbarek - Officium (APE)

Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: ECM Records
Size: 265 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

01. Parce mihi domine
02. Primo tempore
03. Sanctus
04. Regnantem sempiterna
05. O salutaris hostia
06. Procedentem sponsum
07. Pulcherrima rosa
08. Parce mihi domine
09. Beata viscera
10. De spineto nata rosa
11. Credo
12. Ave maris stella
13. Virgo flagellatur
14. Oratio Ieremiae
15. Parce mihi domine


I can’t imagine how someone with a passionate dedication to pure medieval and renaissance music might feel about this – but who cares? It is absolutely beautiful music. For most of the album Garbarek adds a pleasant, unobtrusive shine to the music: unobtrusive is crucial, because the music can survive without him. If he gets too active – he does a couple of times in the latter part of the album, I feel – he draws too much attention to himself, detracting from the beauty of the original music.

If you are unfamiliar with Garbarek, you should know that he’s not jazz in the way most people think of jazz. There is no swing or bop to his mature music (there’s a bit of bop in his early stuff). Many people feel that his music isn’t even really jazz, arguing that in temperament it is more similar to new age music. I’d argue his music is more jazzy than people realize, that it’s something like bebop at 1/64 speed – or at least 1/16 speed. Some people wonder what the point of that is, but no one can argue that his music is lovely and creative.

Who should buy this music? Anyone who enjoys Garbarek’s other stuff, anyone who likes chant and is willing to tolerate some innovation, and anyone who likes new age music. The new age music crowd in particular needs to get this because unlike a lot of music in that line, you can actually play this over and over, paying close attention each time, without numbing your brain.

Incidently, I came down a bit hard on the ECM label in my review of their mediocre album by Stephan Micus entitled Athos. But this album (Garbarek in general) is a good example of ECM at its best. If you’re not familiar with the ECM label (I guess a lot of people don’t pay attention to that kind of thing) then get this album so that it can make a good first impression on you.

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