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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

When we hear about a musical premiere, we naturally think about some new work from a composer, but the recordings we're about to listen to represent another kind of premiere, music that hasn't been heard for hundreds of years.

Recently in Northern Germany, a collection of manuscripts was discovered, composer anonymous, music from the 13th to 16th centuries. Now the music has been recorded. Tom Manoff took a listen to the first of the recordings to be released.

(Soundbite of music)

TOM MANOFF: Many spiritual traditions share something universal in their music, a sense of devotion and the way music turns that emotion into pure sound.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Woman #1 (Singer): (Singing foreign language)

MANOFF: The name of this CD is "God Shall Be Praised, Music from Lune Convent," a cloister first established in the year 1170. The music on this recording includes pieces that have remained unknown for hundreds of years. Listening, then, you're hearing a lost musical world.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Woman #1: (Singing foreign language)

MANOFF: This music may seem simple, but it's not. The rising and falling patterns of the melodies were composed with subtle genius, to interest the ear but also create a sense of calmness and inner reflection.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Woman #1: (Singing foreign language)

MANOFF: There are several ways to enjoy this recording. One is to follow each piece with the Latin text, taking notice of how the melody makes a particular text sing. Here's one of my favorites. It tells the story of the three kings who follow the star to Bethlehem. After the soloist sings a verse, there is a group response always on the same words. Those words translate as: The star, the star shines, the whole congregation rejoices.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified People (Singers): (Singing foreign language)

Unidentified Woman #1: (Singing foreign language)

Unidentified People: (Singing foreign language)

MANOFF: Another way to listen is to just let the music float beyond details and experience it as a lost world - a world less cluttered and when time was measured by shadows on a sundial in a garden.

SIEGEL: Tom Manoff, reviewing "God Shall Be Praised, Music from Lune Convent." You can hear more from this CD and see original manuscripts of the music at nprmusic.org.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified People: (Singing foreign language)

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