Methinks that should I stay with this barmy notion of going through the classical pieces in chronological order that I am going to be stuck in the world of church music for an obscenely long time. I guess it makes sense that influential/surviving classical music from the 12th century would be these types of religious chants.
The book itself is vague when it calls for the Antiphons of Hildegard of Bingen. Since the recording it singles out is Canticles of Ecstasy by Sequentia I’ll make the assumption that this is correct.
One huge thing to note is that this is by a female composer. Within the 1001 Classical Works list these are very few and far between; this means that having one so early in the running order is somewhat surprising.
Hildegard of Bingen (or Saint Hildegard) was an interesting figure in the Catholic church. In her writings she always downplayed woman as being lesser than men and this seemed to make her own words and ideas seem more divine. She’s revered by many as a mystic, is a known figure amongst New Age circles and was a very early candidate for canonization. She’s worth an investigation.
One contrast that can be immediately between this recording and that of Carmina Burana is the gender of the singers. I don’t know if it was written as such, but this recording used predominantly female singers – and that made this feel more mystical and eerie.
At no points did this reach the grand heights of the chants in Carmina Burana, maybe this is because this is more religious in nature. It was nice as background music, but not something I would actively seek out.