Ensemble Galilei,
The Mystic & the Muse
(Dorian, 1997)

Ensemble Galilei is a group that can combine several different styles of music extremely well. Their music is a blend of traditional Irish, Scottish, English and classical music, and some original pieces as well.

The Mystic & the Muse takes a look at 600 years of women in music. The selections were written either for or about women and have origins from places as diverse as an 11th-century monastery in Europe to the Appalachian Mountains.

Ensemble Galilei is composed of six women who come from various musical backgrounds. The lineup has changed slightly over the years; on this CD it is Marcia Diehl on recorders, Nancy Karpeles on percussion, Sue Richards on Celtic harp, Erin Shrader on guitar and fiddle, Carolyn Anderson Surrick on viols and Sarah Wierner on oboe. All have strong backgrounds in both classical and Celtic music.

The CD opens with two Irish reels, "My Love Is In America/Mother's Delight." "Helen Douglas Waltz" is a traditional Scottish tune that features a nice blend of harp and recorder. Two of the original tunes, "The Celt" and "The Alchemist," were both written for the winter solstice and feature some of those mystical haunting melodies that give Celtic music its appeal. On "The Alchemist," it is easy to picture people in the woods dancing around a fire.

And of course you could not put together a CD of medieval music about women without including Hildegard von Bingen. Her "O Ecclesia" is a story about celestial vision and divine love. This instrumental version still manages to maintain beautiful imagery with its melody. "Far, Far Beyond The Mountain" is beautiful Irish folk tune written as a bleak lament for the death of a lover.

The group's dedication to music has resulted in a CD full of beautiful melodies that will appeal to anyone who enjoys Celtic, classical and early European music.

Audiophiles will also appreciate this recording because of the recording techniques used. Recorded in conjunction with the folks at National Public Radio, there was very little compression was used in the studio, resulting in a very natural sounding, good quality album.

- Rambles
written by Dave Townsend
published 6 April 2003

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