In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument
Renowned for their unearthly vocal blend and virtuosic ensemble singing, the four women of Anonymous 4 combine musical, literary, and historical scholarship with contemporary performance intuition as they create ingeniously designed programs, interweaving music with poetry and narrative.
In addition to their unmatched medieval repertoire, Anonymous 4 has often reached out into the realm of contemporary music, and has premiered works by Peter Maxwell Davies, John Tavener, Steve Reich, and Richard Einhorn. The group has most recently expanded their repertoire to include traditional music of the British Isles and America.
Anonymous 4 has performed in major venues and festivals throughout North America, Europe and the Far East. The ensemble has appeared on numerous radio and television programs, including Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion," "CBS Sunday Morning," A&E's "Breakfast With the Arts," and NPR's "Weekend Edition." Anonymous 4's award-winning recordings have attained unprecedented popularity, rising to the top of Billboard's classical chart, and selling almost 1.5 million copies worldwide.
Displaying 1-21 of 21 items.
Review: The unique mystical music of Hildegard von Bingen has captivated all who listen. The German nun, who was barely educated, put forth an enormous body of work as a result of visions. At the age of 43 she had a vision of tongues of flame which compelled her to write down her spiritual experiences. She wrote several liturgical works for the feast of St. Ursula and the Eleven Thousand Virgins, which was probably an important date at her convent. Anonymous 4 has chosen some of these pieces for this recording of Hildegard's music. The framework of the album consists of portions of Vigil, Lauds and Vespers. They have included other liturgical chants and psalms in addition to Hildegard's works to recreate the powerful impression they first made. With their vocal clarity and passionate singing, Anonymous 4 has been lauded for their brilliant interpretation of the music of Hildegard.
Songlist: Auctori vite psalmis, Venite exsultemus domino, O dulcissime amator, Jesu corona virginum, Spiritui sancto, Specie tua, Favus distillans, Benedicamus domino, Studium divinitatis, Dominus regnavit/Studium divinitatis, O Ecclesia, Benedictamus domino, Domine deus meus, Mirabilis deus, Cum vox sanguinis, Magnificat anima mea/O rubor sanguinis, Te lucis ante terminum, Benedicamus domino
Review: Anonymous 4 are known for their scrupulous recordings of 13th and 14th century English chant and polyphony. 'Lammas' refers to the Celtic festival of harvest, celebrating the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Much of the music of the time-at least that still existing today-was written to accompany the Catholic Mass. Therefore each part of the service, which was and is very specifically structured, assumed a certain form, depending on the context: motet, Antiphon, Conductus, introit, hymn, etc. The four women of Anonymous 4 take these relics and give them new life, gently and sweetly entreating them into the present day.
Songlist: Que Est Ista, O Quam Glorifica, Ave Tuos Benedic, In Adore, Salve Mater Salvatoris, Salve Sancta Parens, Kyrie, Gloria, Benedicta Et Venerabilis, Ave Gloriosa Mater, Virga Ferax Aaron, O Maria Stella Maris, O Ceteris Preamabilis, O Quam Glorifica..., Recordare Virgo Mater, Sanctus, Agnus Dei , Alma Dei Genitrix, Salve Mater Salvatoris, Paradisi Porta, Ite Missa Est, Pangat Melos Grex Devotus
Review: This must be how the angels sound! That is the often evoked response of listeners to this exemplary quartet who explore, research, and bring to life medieval polyphony and chant. The blend of voices and virtuosity of creation is unparalleled by any other singers on earth. Once again, by research, the 4 have created a mass, this time 'A Mass For The End Of Time.' The end of time refers to the Last Judgement which is most strongly expressed in the liturgies of the Advent season, the Requiem mass, and the feast of Jesus's Ascension celebrated forty days after Easter. This work is based on the Ordinary and Proper chants of the Ascension mass with added tropes (newly written text and music) to enhance the feel of the music. Historically, the approach to the first millennium saw the collapse of Charlemagne's empire and alliances which yielded a tremendously unsettled period in European history. The church under the charismatic leadership of Pope Sylvester II created a spiritual anchor. Great cathedrals were begun and Christianity was seen as a primary civilizing influence. Musically, the traditional Roman plainchant was being renewed and greatly enlarged while developments in music such as staff line notation allowed these new creations to be rapidly learned and disseminated. Though the church provided a dynamic anchor, it also tended to foster a millennial belief in the end of time and that the Last Judgement was at hand. From this milieu, Anonymous 4 has recreated another incredibly beautiful liturgical testament.
Songlist: Judicii Signum, Quem Creditis Super Astra/Viri Galilei, Celestis Terrestrisque, Prudentia Prudentium, Dominus in Sina, Ascendens Cristus, Salavator Mundi/Rex Omnipotens Die Hodierna, Elevatus Est Rex Fortis/Viri Galilei, Ante Secula, Omnipotens Eterne, Corpus Quod Nunc/Psallite Domino, Apocalypse 21:1-5, Regnantum Sempiterna, Cives Celestis Patrie
Review: A selection of liturgical and paraliturgical Christmas pieces, taken from medieval Hungarian sources. Most are monophonic, but there is a modest sprinkling of simple polyphonic pieces for two, three and four voices. The charm of the performance lies in its unpretentious, almost childlike simplicity - suggested, maybe, by the delightful extracts from the Christmas story as quoted in the notes. These extracts come from the 'Peasants' Bible' - Paraszbiblia: Magyar Nepi Biblikus Tortenetek - which contains Bible stories retold in simple language, with homely, imaginative details and an atmosphere of fairy-tale. The classic liturgical pieces, which include the Introit Dum medium silentium, the splendid Gradual Speciosa forma, and others, are heard in a version which tends to use the pentatonic scale, thus avoiding both B natural and B flat. The sung readings are impressive with their polyphonic settings. I enjoyed the rich Genealogy (Liber generationis) with its beautifully constructed and compelling melody. Some of the vernacular pieces, as well as the Latin song for New Year's Day, have a regular ternary rhythm. The Hungarian Te Deum (which appeared in an earlier recording by the Schola Hungarica on Quintana) offers an interesting alternative for the concluding verses: it simply transposes the original theme up a fourth. The 110-page booklet, lavishly produced with both colour and black-and-white illustrations, is a marvellous little tool and a joy to handle.
Songlist: Ave spes nostra, Mi Atyank Atya Isten, Veni domine, O mundi domina, Fuit virgo, Vox clara, ecce, intonat, Omes unanimiter, Dum medium silentium, Primo tempore alleviata, Speciosus forma, Novum decus oritur, Letentur cele, Salvator noster, Az idvozitor regenten, Novus annaus adiit, Exulta filia Syon, Liber generationis, Gaude et letare, Exordium quadruplate"/"Nate dei"/"Concrepet infanti"/"Verbum caro, Isten, teged
Review: Anonymous 4 turns from the medieval repertoire to explore the roots of American sacred music. Developed in Toni Morrison's Atelier program at Princeton in spring 2003, American Angels includes songs of redemption and glory from the time of the American Revolution to the present day: 18th-century psalm settings from rural New England, 19th-century shape-note and camp revival songs from the rural South, and some of the nation's best-loved gospel songs. Drawing from collections including 'The Southern Harmony,' and 'The Sacred Harp,' - the album explores the beauty and power of early American sacred music and the relatively obscure form of a cappella choral singing known as Sacred Harp.
Songlist: Holy Manna (Brethren we have met to worship), Abbeville (Come, Holy Spirit, come), Wondrous Love (What wondrous love is this!), Sweet Hour of Prayer, Jewett (Amazing grace, how sweet the sound), The Morning Trumpet (O when shall I see Jesus), Resignation (My shepherd will supply my need), Poland (God of my life, look gently down), Wayfaring Stranger (I am a poor, wayfaring stranger), Sweet By and By (There's a land that is fairer than day), Blooming Vale (O, were I like a feathered dove), Idumea (I) (And am I born to die), Idumea (II) (My God, my life, my love), Sweet Prospect (On Jordan's stormy banks I stand), Shall We Gather at the River, Amanda (Death, like an overflowing stream), Invitation (Hark! I hear the harps eternal), Parting Hand (My Christian friends, in bonds of love), Angel Band (My latest sun is sinking fast)
Review: Here is a record to dispel the old myth that chant and early polyphony are really uniquely the province of male voices, men and boys. It is often forgotten that communities of nuns, within the walls of their enclosure, sang exactly the same liturgical repertoire as the monks, their male counterparts. Individual names of female singers do, in fact, emerge from time to time: the noble Blesilla in the fourth century, for example, commended by St Jerome for her excellent singing of the Alleluia, or Abbess Hildegard in the twelfth century, who composed ravishingly beautiful hymns and sequences. In our own century we have some good recordings of nuns' choirs, Argentan in Normandy is one, and St Cecilia's, on the Isle of Wight, another. But this disc represents something quite new: here is a professional all-female vocal quartet uniquely devoted to the performance of chant and early polyphony. Anonymous 4, whose very title recalls the authorship of a famous medieval music treatise, have brought to the early-music scene a new approach and a refreshingly new sound. They sing with clean, unpretentious voices a programme of music that follows the basic structure of the Lady Mass, once so popular in England. They fill it out with a well-chosen selection of thirteenth- and fourteenth-century pieces in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary: chants and polyphonic items, mainly in Latin, but including two items in the vernacular, namely the charming early strophic song Edi beo thu and the gentle sequence Jesu Christes milde moder. There is a captivating simplicity and directness about their performance, which naturally avoids many of the pitfalls of an overstretched attempt at reconstruction.
Songlist: Prosa: Gaude virgo salutata (chant), Polyphonic song: Edi beo thu hevene quene, Introit: Salve mater redemptoris/ Salve lux langentium/ Salve sine spina/, Salve sancta parens, Motet: Lux polis refulgens/ Lux et gloria, Kyrie: Kyria christifera, Gloria, Motet: Spiritus et alme/ Gaude virgo salutata, Song: Miro genere, Gradual: Benedicta et venerabilis, Alleluia: Alme iam ad gaudia/ Alme matris dei/ Alleluya per te dei, Sequence: Missus Gabriel de celis, Prosa: Gaude virgo gratiosa (chant), Polyphonic song: Salve virgo virginum, Offertory: Felix namque (chant), Sanctus and Benedictus, Sequence/Song: Jesu Cristes milde moder, Agnus dei: Virtute numinis, Communion: Beata viscera (chant and song), Rondellus: Flos regalis, Chant setting: Ite missa est, Hymn: Ave maria stella
Review: Ruth Cunningham, Marsha Genensky, Susan Hellauer and Johanna Maria Rose are the acclaimed, prolific a cappella group, Anonymous 4, and the beautiful polyphonic music in this CD almost didn't make it to us because of the invasion of Hungary by the Turks in 1541. The iconoclastic Turks destroyed artworks in all forms, including liturgical manuscripts. Fortunately some of the manuscripts were copied or carried away by fleeing monks, nuns and clerics. These plainchants are remarkably consistent, part of a major effort towards liturgical and musical uniformity. Ethereal, hauntingly beautiful, one can close one's eyes and be in the cathedral where the choir sent this perfect, sacred music heavenward - as prayerful, meditative and joyful for the singers as for the worshippers. 20 sublime pieces.
Songlist: Ave Spes Nostra, Mi Atyank Atya Isten, Veni Dommine, O Mundi Domina, Fuit Virgo, Vox Clara, Ecce, Intonat, Omnes Unanimiter, Dum Medium Silentium, Primo Tempore Alleviata, Speciosus Forma, Novum Decus Oritur, Letentur Celi, Salvator Noster, Az Idvozitot Regenten, Novus Annus Adiit, Exulta Filia Syon, Liber Generationis, Exordium Quadruplate, Lsten, Teged
Review: For those who love the purity of chant, for the audiences who are discovering chant (or returning to it) as listeners or as singers, and also for those who are new to the work of Anonymous 4, the celebrated vocal quartet presents a stellar collection of some of the greatest medieval chants culled from its many acclaimed recordings. This special mid-priced release documenting the history of chant, presented in deluxe packaging with in-depth liner notes, would make a perfect holiday gift selection.
Songlist: Prosa: Gaude virgo gratiosa, Offertory: Felix namque, Hymn: Ave Maris Stella, Processional Hymn: O gloriosa domina, Sequence: Stabat iuxta Christi crucem, Antiphon: Ave regina celorum, Te Deum: Isten, teged, Responsory: Spritui sancto, Antiphon: Que est ista, Hymn: O quam glorifica, Offertory: Recordare virgo mater/ Trope: Mater patris et filia, Responsory: Ex eius tumba/ Prosa: Sospitati dedit egros, Processional hymn: Judicii signum, Vespers hymn: O lux beata trinitas, Alleluia: Quinque prudentes virgines, Sequence: O ignis spiritus paracliti, Hymn: Beata nobis gaudia
I'm On My Journey Home
Review: On the heels of their successful hit album American Angels, the four-woman vocal group Anonymous 4 sets off on another musical journey into the rich songbook of traditional American folk music on the stunning new album Gloryland. Conceived as a collaboration between A4 and new-grass stars Darol Anger and Mike Marshall, Gloryland layers together lyric folk songs, religious ballads, shape-note tunes, and spiritual and gospel hymns into a musical tapestry that shimmers with joy and creativity.
Songlist: I'm On My Journey Home, An Address For All, Wayfaring Stranger, Where We'll Never Grow Old, Ecstacy, The Wagoner's Lad, Mercy-Sat, Return Again, The Lost Girl, Palmetto, Pleading Saviour, Merrick, The Shining Shore , Saint's Delight, Just Over In The Glory Land, You Fair And Pretty Ladies, Parting Friends / Wayfaring Stranger, Green Pastures
Review: The four beautiful, talented women who call themselves Anonymous 4 stun usonce again with a soaring collection of a cappella choral music from the early Christian church. One of the most respected and prolific choral groups(we like to think of them as an institution) performing today, Anon 4 discovers the timeless choral works that otherwise might never be heard, or heard by only a few, and brings them to us in perfect, bell-like tones and harmonies--an unexpected gift from centuries past. There are 17 songs here, all in Latin, and an amazing, comprehensive set of illustrated liner notes that tell us everything we want to know about the music. Put this CD on a really good music system, sit back and let the music of the angels wash over you.
Songlist: O maria o felix puerpera, Pia mater gratie, De la mere au sauveor, O maria virginei, Verbuym bonum et suave, Ave salus hominum, Mainte chancon ai fait, Ave maria gracia plena, Beata viscera, Mundum renovavit, Je te pri de cuer par amors, Salve sancta parens, Serena virginum, De la tres douce Marie, Ave virgo virginum, Mater patris et filia, Ave nobilis venerabilis
Review: 1999 recording, celebrating the legend of St. Nicholas ('Jolly St Nick,' or 'Santa Claus'); as with most folk heroes, the actual biography of Nicholas, born in Turkey somewhere around 300 A.D., is much removed from present day interpretation. The New-York based classical women's quartet Anonymous 4, whose focus is medieval chant and polyphony, enliven these motets, hymns and conductus (medieval setting of Latin text) with an attention to historical realism that brings them very much to life. As the function of these chants was in the context of Catholic liturgy, they are by definition, an embodiment of all that is divine; neither rhythmically or harmonically complex, their appeal is their quiet beauty and distinctive texture.
Songlist: intonent hodie, exultemus et letemur, gaudens in domino, seint nicholas was borne in the citee of patras, confessor dei nicholaus, cantu mirro, summa laude, sainte nicholaes, whanne the bisshop of the citee of myre deied, nicholai presulis, cum quidam fluctuantia, novus presul prodiit, sainte nicholaes, all the province of seint nicholas suffered..., plaudat letitia, salve cleri speculum/ salve iubar presulum, sainte nicholaes, a worschipfull man hadde thre doughtres virgines, fulget nicolaus, ex eius tumba/ sospitati dedit egros, gaudens in domino, and whanne oure lorde lust to take seint nicholas..., psallar chorus/ eximie pater/ (aptatur), nicholae presulum, micholaus pontifex
Review: One could easily imagine that a programme such as this, of 29 thirteenth-century motets, all composed around the same theme of fin amours and all sung unaccompanied by an all-female vocal ensemble, might end by becoming wearisome on the ear. Anonymous 4 have proved conclusively in this recording that this need not be so, that, in any case, there is already an infinite variety of mood and style among the songs-compare, for example, No. 14 (Joliement/Quant voi la florete/Je sui joliete) with No. 18 (Ne m'oubliez mie)-and that it is possible further to vary them in performance, using no other means than the voices themselves.The directness of the group's approach is always refreshing: their tone is unaffected, their pitch secure. The songs are presented with simplicity in a clear acoustic. There is a total absence of any improvised doodling on reconstructed medieval instruments, which is rather a relief. One gets a sense of quiet satisfaction and enjoyment from the singers themselves. I also get the feeling that the singers are trying to teach us something about the music, the mechanics of the motet and how it works, almost as if they were demonstrating to a class of music students. They sometimes go out of their way to sing a single part and then to repeat it with another part added, and then finally to give us a polished rendering of the whole motet, complete with all its parts. Occasionally they add a drone-once with a doubling at the fifth above.
Songlist: Plus bele que flor/ Quant revient/ L'autrier joer/ FLOS FILIUS (Mo 21), Puisque bele dame m'eime/ FLOS FILIUS (Mo 231), Amours mi font souffrir/ En mai/ FLOS FILIUS (Mo 111), Ne sai, que je die/ IOHANNE (Mo 185), Se je chante/ Bien doi amer/ ET SPERABIT (Mo 311), Or ne sai je que devenir/ P uisque d'amer/ KYRIELEYSON (Mo 267), He Dieus, de si haut si bas/ Maubatus/ CUMQUE (Mo 92), Celui en qui/ La bele estoile/ La bele, en qui/ IOHANNE (Mo 20), Qui d'amours se plaint/ LUX MAGNA (Mo 215), Amours, dont je sui/ L'autrier, au douz mois/ Chose Tassin (Mo 270), Au cuer ai un mal/ Ja ne m'en repentirai/ Jolietement (Mo 260), Quant voi la fleur/ ET TENUERUNT (Mo 241), Quant se depart/ Onques ne sai amer/ DOCEBIT OMNEM (Mo 131), Joliement/ Quant voi la florete/ Je sui joliete/ APTATUR (Mo 34), Amor potest conqueri/ Ad amorem sequitur (Mo328), Ce que je tieng/ Certes mout/ Bone compaignie/ MANERE (Mo 33), J'ai si bien mon cuer assiz/ Aucun m'ont/ ANGELUS (Mo 128), Ne m'oubliez mie/ DOMINO (Mo 236), Blanchete/ Quant je pens/ VALARE (Mo 168), Dame, que je n'os noumer/ Amis donc est/ Lonc tans a (Mo 337), Li savours de mon desir/ Li grant desir/ Non veul mari (Mo 323), Entre Copin/ Je me cuidoie/ Bele Ysabelos (Mo 256), S'on me regarde/ Prennes i gardee/ He, mi enfant (Mo 256), Quant yver l a bise ameine/ IN SECULUM (Mo 223), Ne m'a pas oublie/ IN SECULUM (Mo 207), On doit fin(e) Amor/ La biaute/ IN SECULUM (Mo 134), Ja n'amerai autre que cele/IN SECULUM (Mo 3) , Quant je parti de m'amie/ TUO (Mo 200)
Review: Susan Hellauer's lucid introduction to the contents of Jacobus, the Liber Sancti Iacobi (the Codex Calixtinus) makes fascinating reading. Following Christopher Hohler, she points out that this extraordinary collection of liturgical items, non-liturgical pilgrim songs, sermons, chants and lessons in honour of St James, was originally destined for the use of French schoolboys, presumably with voix blanches. That being so, this recording by a group of high female voices may be easily vindicated: Anonymous 4 bring to their performance that smooth, unsophisticated vocal blend we have come to expect from them. It is a lovely sound, and their intelligent and imaginative approach sticks resolutely to middle ground, avoiding excesses of orientation and extremes of interpretative theory.
Songlist: Venite Omnes Cristicole, Salve Festa Dies, Voc Nostra Resonet, Nostra Phalanx Plaudat Leta, Ad Sepulcreum Beati Iacobi, Ad Superni Regis Decus, Iacobe Servorum, Benedicamus Domino, In Hac Die Laudes, Cunctipotens Genitor, Psallat Chorus Celestuim, Alleluia: Gratulemur Et Letemur, Ascendens Ihesus In Montem, Qui Pius Ac Mitis, Gratulantes Celebremus Festum, Iacobe SancteTuum, O Aditor Omnium Seculorum, Portum In Ultimo, Congaudeant Catholici, Clemens Servulorum
Hodie Christus natus est
Review: The four female members of Anonymous 4 are dedicated to the preservation of Gregorian chant from medieval times, and this holiday selection of English plainchant, songs, motets and carols are all derived from this period. As one might expect, the texts are often sacred in nature, to be performed during religious rites and devotions, such as Advent (hymn, 'Vox Clara, Ecce, intonat'). Carols often use the multiple verse and refrain format, that was a typical form ('Ther Is No Rose Of Swych Vertu,' and others). Much more could be said about the historical and musical context of these works - and is, in the extensive liner notes - but this background, though fascinating, is not necessary to simply appreciate the supple grace and open sound of these gentle voices, which is more than enough.
Songlist: Hodie Christus natus est, O nobilis nativitas"/"O mira dei"/"Odecus virgineum"/"Appruit, Lux de luce, Alleluya: A nywe werke, Verbum supernun prodiens, Balaam de quo vaticianas, Ave Maria, Gabriel, fram heven-king, Lullay: I saw a swete semly syght, Prolis eterne genitor"/"Psallat mater gracie, Vox clara, ecce, intonat, De supernis sedibus, Qmnes de Saba, Puellare gremium, Lullay, ullay: Als I lay on Yoolis night, Tria sunt munera, Orto sole serene"/"Origo viri"/"Virga Iesse, Peperit virgo, Ecce quod natura, A solis ortus cardine, Ther is no rose of swych vertu, Videntes stellam, Owt of your slepe aryse
Review: The culmination of a variety of skills and training, Anonymous 4 is one of the world's finest medieval singing groups. This CD celebrates the success of several of their recordings. Excerpts are taken from Miracles of Sant' Iago, The Lily & the Lamb, A Star in the East, Love's Illusion, An English Ladymass, On Yoolis Night and 11,000 Virgins. Their exquisite singing blends together the original spiritual intent with the modern artistic view of these ancient pieces. You will be moved by their breathtaking sounds.
Songlist: Venite Omnes Cristicole, Ad Superni Regis Decus, Portum In Ultimo, O Maria Stella Maris, Stabat Iuxta Christi Crucem, Stillat In Stellam Raduim, Primo Tempore Alleviata, Speciousus Forma, Mi Atyank Atya Isten, Puisque Bele Dame M'eime/FLOS FILIUS, Ne Sai, Que Je Die/IOHANNE, Amor Potest Conqueri/Ad Amorem Sequitur, Quant Yver La Bise Ameine/IN SECULUM, On Doit Fin(e) Amor/La Biaute/IN SECULUM, Edi Beo Thu Hevene Quene, Ave Maris Stella, Salve Virgo Virginum, Ther Is No Rose Of Swych Vertu, Prolis Eterne Genitor/Psallat Mater Gracie, Ecce Quod Natura, Spiritui Sancto
Review: The women of Anonymous 4 revisit their favorite era with repertoire from the Codex Las Huelgas. Spanning the entire 13th century - from virtuosic motets and conductus to heartfelt laments, plainchants and sacred songs - this important manuscript was compiled for a convent of aristocratic Castilian women who (in spite of a rule forbidding Cistercian nuns from singing polyphony) sang the most beautiful and demanding music from all across Gothic-era Europe.
Songlist: Virgines egregie, Ave maris stella, Claustrum Pudicicie / Virgo Viget / Flos Filius, Fa fa mi / Ut re mi, O Maria Virgo / O Maria Maris Stella , Benedicamus domino: cum cantico, Salve porta / Salve salus / Salve sancta parens, Kirie: Rex virginum amator, Gloria: Spiritus et alme, Verbum bonum et suave, Salve Virgo Regia / Ave Gloriosa Mater , Sanctus & Benedictus, Gaude Virgo Nobilis / Verbum Caro Factum / Et Veritate, Agnus dei: Gloriosa spes reorum, O monialis conscio, Benedicamus domino: Belial vocatur, In virgulto gracie, Ave Regina Celorum / Alma Redemptoris Mater, Benedicamus domino a 3, Si vocatus ad nupcias, Mater patris et filia, Benedicamus domino a 2, Omnium in te christe
Review: This offering from Anonymous 4 is a selection of pieces dedicated to the Virgin Mary from medieval England. These span some 200 years from the thirteenth century to the early fifteenth. During this period, celebration of the Virgin increased with a gathering impetus until the Marian cult dominated devotional worship, and this is reflected in an outpouring of verse, in Latin and the vernacular, much of which was set to music. Many of the verses are glosses on established liturgical texts such as the Stabat mater or Salve regina, and it is the image of the grieving mother at the foot of the Cross which prevails here, hence the symbolism of the title: the virginal lily and the sacrificial lamb. Much of the poetry - and the music - is very fine, and fans of Anonymous 4's previous discs will not be disappointed. Their distinctive, all-female sound is as pure and clear as ever and exerts a powerful attraction, especially if one is plunged into it by hearing a track or two in isolation: very refreshing.
Songlist: O Gloriosa Domina, Pe Milde Lomb Isprad O Rode, Ave Maria Gracia Plena, Oh Maria Stella Maris, Stabat Iuxta Christi Crucem, Stillat In Stellam Radium, Salve Virgo Singularis, Stond Wel, Moder, Under Roode, Oh Maria Virgo Pia, In Ti Concipitur, Jesu Cristes Milde Moder, Veni Mater Gracie/ Dou Way, Robin, O Mors Moreris/ O Vita Vera/Mors, Salve Virgo Tonantis Solium, Miserere Miseris, Ave Maria Salus Hominum, Memor Esto Tuorum, Ave Regina Celorum
Review: 'Origin' is the 16th recording by the four angel-voiced women of Anonymous 4, of music by 12th century German abbess and mystic Hildegard of Bingen. Hildegard's intensely emotional chants and visions (including the monumental hymn 'O ignee spiritus' and some of her finest antiphons) are performed here framed by hymns and sequences that she and her convent sisters would have heard and sung every day. 17 songs, the hymns 'Veni creator spiritus' and 'Beata nobis gaudia,' ' the antiphon 'O quam mirabilis est,' the vision 'The fire of creation,' the sequences 'Veni spiritus eternorum' and 'Oignis spiritus paracliti,' and the responsory 'O felix anima' are particularly wonderful, but we are deeply touched throughout this recording by the spirit and power of this music, hauntingly and perfectly performed by the stunningly talented Anonymous 4.
Songlist: Veni creator spiritus, Veni spiritus eternorum, O quam mirabilis est, The fire of creation, O ignis spiritus paracliti, Wisdom and her sisters, O felix anima, The fiery spirit, O ignee spiritus, Love, Caritas habundat in omnia, O eterne deus, Beata nobis gaudia
Review: 'Second Circle' is the latest release from the acclaimed and prolific Anonymous 4, who are Johanna Maria Rose, Marsha Genensky, Jacqueline Horner and Susan Hellauer. These are 14th century Italian love songs by Francesco Landini, an early 'renaissance man,' left blind by smallpox, who became a master musician, composer and poet, becoming the chief musician at the church of San Lorenzo in Florence. Anon4 gives us 18 of his beautiful songs, and to deepen our appreciation of them, there is one of the most lovely and extensive liner notes we have seen, actually a 46-page full-color booklet with a number of incredible paintings from the period. Much more than a group of lovely, obscure songs, we are treated to a short course in music appreciation and art history of the composer and his fascinating times!
Songlist: Echo La Primavera, Angelica Bilta, Che Chos'e Quest' amor, Nella Partita, Non Do La Colp' a te, Quanto Piu Caro Faj, Se Pronto Non Sara , Lasso! Per Mie Fortuna , Ochi Dolenti Mie, Muort' Oramai, Per Allegreca, Nella Mi Vita, Abbonda Di Virtur, Non Ara Ma' Pieta, La Bionda Trecca, Cara Mie Donna , Gran Piant' Agli Ochi, Echo La Primavera
A God and Yet A Man
Review: Andrew Lawrence-King's virtuoso harp joins the voices of Anonymous 4 in a wealth of Yuletide music, favourite and rare, from the British Isles. Juxtaposing pagan and Christian traditions, the programme interweaves English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh ballads and carols with well-loved pieces by John Tavener (The Lamb), Benjamin Britten, and a newly commissioned work by Peter Maxwell Davies. Andrew Lawrence-King adds special colour playing a variety of instruments: psaltery, Baroque harp, and a remarkable Irish 'Queen Mary' harp which sounds as if it contains its own peal of heavenly bells.
Songlist: Awake and join the cheerful choir, Good people all, The seven rejoices of Mary, The Lamb, A Scots Lilt, Balulalow, Balulalow (Richard Rodney Bennett), The holly and the ivy, The Reel of Tullochgorum, I saw three ships, A Calendar of Kings (Peter Maxwell Davies), Air: La fuar geimhreadh, An teicheadh go hEigipt, A God, and yet a man? (Geoffrey Burgon), Grene growith the holy (Henry VIII), Wel, dyma'r borau gorau, The Cherry Tree Carol, Can wassel, A New Year Carol (Benjamin Britten)
Review: American Angels is the diary of Anonymous 4's first journey to the roots of Anglo-American spiritual vocal music. It includes 18th-century psalm settings and fuging tunes from rural New England, 19th century folk hymns and camp revival songs from the rural South, and gospel songs originating in the Northeastern cities and adopted in the late 19th Century by rural Southerners. Here are the charts from some of their recording.
Songlist: Grace, Crossing, Journey, Parting