Mediaeval Baebes,
The Rose
(Nettwerk America, 2002)

Have you heard of the Mediaeval Baebes? Whether your answer is yes or no, you're in for a treat. The Mediaeval Baebes is a nine-woman ensemble that performs -- you guessed it -- medieval music. But don't expect a lot of heavy chanting. The Medieval Baebes add percussion and music to suit themselves and often take a text for which there is no music and compose their own in a medieval style. Instruments include strings, dulcimer, percussion, piano, harmonium, zithers and others, played by various guest musicians.

The Rose is their fourth CD. In keeping with the rose as a symbol of love, this is a collection of love songs from the 11th to the 16th centuries in languages including Italian, Russian, French, Welsh and Middle English. The lyrics and their translations are thoughtfully provided so you can sing along, should you so desire.

The Baebes take turns singing lead, so each piece is individual and memorable, rather than blending one into the other in an unending mishmash. From the soaring "Glass Window" to the rhythmic "Dringo Bell" (on which the Baebes are joined by the Mediaeval Bloakes for some, well, heavy chanting) and the interestingly named "Lick the Maypole," the Mediaeval Baebes will command your attention.

Are you still reading this? Go. Pick up some Mediaeval Baebes.

[ by Laurie Thayer ]
Rambles: 13 July 2002

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