Album title: In Nativitate Beatae Mariae Virgins
Performer: Schola Sanctae Sunnicae, director Anne Kleivset
Label: 2L
Playing time: 44'00"
Recorded: Ringsaker Church, Norway - October 2009

This is exactly the kind of disc anyone would surely consider with greatest skepticism. I am no liturgical chant expert either yet the almost non-conformist approach of  director Kleivset and composer Henning Sommerro present equal opportunities to one and all. This album is based on the revival of the very few 13th century liturgical codices still available in Norway (survivors of the 1537 Reformation). The Schola Sanctae Sunnivae choir gathering 12-14 female singers led by Anne Kleivset has worked extensively with this material and focused on the surviving parts of the magnificent music in honor of the birth of the Holy Virgin Mary. Composer Henning Sommerro worked to find a perfect balance in the 18 tracks of this album.

As a result, the women's voices are exquisite and the tonal balance very pleasant, delivering just the right touch of brightness and softness. The added percussion seems quite strange at first but my modest acquaintance with liturgical music did not protest this artistic choice. Au contraire, it opened a door to escape the genre's usual austerity. Percussion here replaces the usual organ passages to add more tenderness and some tonal diversity whilst preserving the grace of this female performance which creates a kind of angelical climate along the various antiphons.

It is not the first recorded attempt for the  Schola Sanctae Sunnivae who have recorded two offices with Gregorian chants from the Nordic tradition. This already experienced Choir succeeds in remaining very close to the ancient repertoire while establishing a touch of Nordic folklore freshness especially in this release which is utterly timeless to have the the story of the Virgin Mary transcend cyclical barriers. That's why this disc, even though challenging conventions, deserves an award. Some of the most sophisticated things sometime wear very simple outfits.