Press Reviews

BACHTRACK.COM, 14/5/2013
Steel Hammer (2009) was the real gem of this programme. (…) Trio Mediaeval and Bang on a Can gave a performance that was wholly evocative of the musical traditions of Appalachia, with soaring vocals, foot-tapping, whistling, humming and stamping.

The folk-style and precision of Trio Mediaeval perfectly matched the alternating moods of “Steel Hammer” from cattle call American to industrial scrapes and bangs. (…) Their vocal dexterity through the various tongue twisters and rhythmic fragments was amazing.

Sometimes it does not take a lot to disappear in fascinating worlds of sound. The Scandinavian Trio Mediæval showed this in a most impressive manner on Monday evening. (…) Pure joy from the beginning to the end. (…) Harmonized in every detail, the Trio impressed with excellently skilled and well-modulated voices which moved effortlessly between articulation and Belcanto.

THE IRISH TIMES, 16/4/2013
The extraordinary singing had a combination of precision and expressive subtlety that drew one in, as if contemplating an object up-close, being captivated by its beauty, but remaining an onlooker. The second half consisted of folk songs from Scandinavia, England and Scotland (…). This music was more earthy and sometimes more seductive than the ethereal beauties of the Mass setting. (…) But there was still enough for the experience to be fundamentally healthy – engaging, sometimes moving, often delightful.

The three Scandinavian sopranos sang these simple melodies and archaic quint parallels in such a transcendental, pure, clean and perfectly balanced way so that one could think, one was listening to voices of angels.

Their soprano-coloured sound hovers transcendentally clear and pure and their voices, which are full of overtones, are so perfectly mixed that one could think they came from a foreign, celestial sphere to the ear of an earth-dweller. (…) Musical and visual impressions merged into an artistic event of hypnotic powers.

By presenting the highest pitch and most delicate pianissimi and this seemingly without any effort, the singers have shown their natural and self-evident vocal skills of the highest order. In no way slick and sterile, they presented the music in an impressively varied, perfectly phrased manner and with contrasting emotionality.

The music is slender and even in dance songs ever reserved and never overwhelming. It is devoid of any pretence, but has intensity and quiet greatness. The vocalists present the music as if its creation were of no effort.

The Oslo vocal ensemble Trio Mediaeval was joined by trumpeter and electronics wizard Arve Henriksen in a spellbinding performance spanning the ages and several genres. (…). And what an experience it was. (…) Such was the depth, range and power of their voices one felt completely enveloped by sound. As for the polyphonic passages, they were delivered with cut-glass clarity.

The voices of Trio Mediaeval take you by surprise. (…)The three female vocalists blend well – one breathy, one dark, one golden in tone. They used their voices like instruments, largely without vibrato and perfectly in sync. The first six numbers blended seamlessly between traditional songs and 13th-century English sacred chant, with Arve Henriksen’s quivering pocket trumpet providing the stimulus for many of the melodies. Constant electronic amplification shrouded the sound in an echoey glow. It was the element that really brought the performance into the 21st century and accentuated the group’s imagination. There was a sense of humour here too, in the spontaneous ornamentations and perfectly judged, almost ritualistic timing.

THE GUARDIAN, 22/5/2012
Trio Mediæval’s hand-chimes and use of the hardanger fiddle broadened an already captivating soundscape. The Norwegian traditional song Till, Till Love produced some of the gig’s most sublime moments as the singers spread out across the room, and transformed gracefully curling, semi-spoken beginnings into whirling polyphony over a stamping pulse.

As close to vocal perfection as you can get – the three soprano voices of Trio Mediaeval. (…) Their sound washed over the packed audience, with a texture which belied only three voices. Their synergy of tone and their rare, virtually vibrato-free delivery resulted in clarity of sound which stunned. As the sun set outside the candle-lit church this was an experience to match any sunset, anywhere. Sitting on pews buffed by centuries of souls, absorbing the plangent sounds of chimes in Benedicta/Virgo dei genitrix and voices as pure as faith itself, we were steeped in serenity.

Norwegian folk music and medieval song – with the Trio Mediaeval both of these things go together beautiful. Together with percussionist Berger Mistereggen, the three beautifully-voiced singers provided a peaceful end to Pentecost with their concert on Monday evening as a part of the “Klangvokal” festival in the Marienkirche. (…) The program consisted mostly of poetic impressions of nature, rarely heard outside of Scandinavia. (…) But the three singers also have great power in their voices, almost creating the force of a small choir in the medieval songs.

The concert of the Trio Mediaeval (…) can be summarized in one word: pure. (…) The clear harmonies in the old English pieces (…) as well as the almost sweet dissonance in the modern works, the singing of a folk-song above a bourdon-voice, the hum or slow fading-out of the voices, the passing of melodies that seamlessly follow each other – all this was presented on Sunday in an exceptionally beautiful and clear way.

THE NEW YORK TIMES, 26/11/2008
These three voices blended with a supernatural clarity and beauty that might cause even a confirmed agnostic to contemplate a spark of divinity in these centuries-old manuscripts.

The subtle musicality and floating voices of the trio encountered the meticulous and contextual compositions (…). A wonderful concert.

THE TIMES, 10/7/2008
Light, beautifully tuned voices, wonderful dynamic variety, perfect rapport, imaginative presentation – a true masterclass in a cappella singing. And the medieval material was leavened by artfully arranged Scandinavian folk songs and an ascetic yet atmospheric new piece by Andrew Smith. Beg, borrow, steal or (preferably) buy their CDs on the ECM label.

THE GUARDIAN, 8/7/2008
The opening weekend’s brilliant concert by the Scandinavian Trio Medieval, mixing 13th- and 14th-century religious polyphony with traditional Norwegian songs, helped challenge preconceptions. (…) In Flors Regalis Virginalis and Beata Viscera, it was precisely their purity of delivery that underlined the music’s beauty. (…) While contemporary Marian pieces by Andrew Smith had a pungency that echoed medieval sensibilities, Trio Medieval’s traditional Norwegian ballads also had a beguilingly musty feel.

This connection between different centuries, traditional texts and spontaneous intuition succeeded brilliantly, captivating the audience, not least due to the exqisite technical skills of the ensemble. How crystal clear, almost seraphic the Trio Mediaeval (…) cantillated – fascinating.


About the CD Worcester Ladymass (ECM)

WASHINGTON POST (U.S.A.) – Anne Midgette 4/22/2011
This performance is an act of recontextualization, as Anna Maria Friman, the group’s Swedish soprano, points out in the CD’s brief liner notes. Offering a spirituality stripped of most of its specific religious associations (the Latin texts are even printed in the booklet without translation), the album lightly raises the question of how to honor women in an entirely different society.


About the CD Folk Songs (ECM) and CD release concerts

In the decade since the Trio Mediaeval was formed in Oslo, it has built a reputation (…) for impeccably refined vocalism. So how, exactly, does that square with the whooping, harrowing cow call Torunn Ostrem Ossum, the smoothest and most tasteful of mezzo-sopranos, unleashed from the back of the house (…)? Or with the brash, boyish, rustic inflections of Anna Maria Friman, a polished, high-flying soprano (…)? Well, these are gifted and versatile performers who obviously love their work, and music of all kinds, and throw themselves into it. (…) Most of the music from the program also appears on the trio’s superb new CD (…). The disc was selling hotly at intermission, and deservedly so.

Under the sanctuary’s hypersensitive arches, three high voices, each gilded with a distinct timbre, blended into an unprecedented auditory mix, angelic in affect, stepping far beyond the prudence of well-trained vocalists.

THE DENVER POST, 03/12/2007
On tour to promote their latest CD, “Folk Songs”, Trio Mediæval and percussionist Birger Mistereggen delivered on Saturday the most refined and satisfying musicianship in recent memory. (…) percussionist and singers blended seamlessly through a generous helping of short works, mostly arranged by Fuglseth, that are grouped together to create a flow that is both topically logical and emotionally resonant. (…) the freshness of their programming and the crystalline quality, and musical sensitivity and intimacy of their performance have reached full stride. Shinier than ever, the group stands front and center among the handful of vocalists in their league.

THE NEW YORK TIMES, 30/11/2007
This wonderful trio of Scandinavian women, based in Oslo, has long tantalized audiences with samplings of Norwegian folk songs. Here, at last, is a full helping, infectious and addictive, as warm or meditative lyricism alternates with joyous friskiness.


About the CD Stella Maris (ECM)

With a wonderful breath, the three singers support the artfully progressing chains of fourths and fifths; an impressive illuminating power in their voices, a keen sense of the quietly secure architecture of these works. The “Missa Lumen de Lumine”, commissioned by the ensemble from the Korean composer Sungji Hong, presents a more open set of emotions. The work frees itself almost imperceptibly from the medieval tone realm, and all of the most subtle intensifications and combinations of sounds are brought out with the most careful attention.

The word “mellifluous” might almost have been coined to describe the distinctively pure, cool sound of Trio Mediæval’s three female voices. It has an alluring quality all its own, which makes everything they sing – from the earliest polyphony to newly composed pieces which, to some extent, inhabit the same sound-world – wonderfully rewarding to listen to.

Trio Mediæval are completely at home in this repertoire and the sequence has been particularly well chosen to show off different aspects of the piece, with two monumental Notre Dame works at the climax: the anonymous “Veni Creator Spiritus” and Perotin’s astounding “Dum sigillum”. The Trio are at their suavest here and there is no hint of any of the bumpiness that can come so often with medieval triple time, though at the same time there is also no loss of that rhythmic buoyancy so essential to this repertoire.