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A Lammas Ladymass: 13th and 14th Century English Chant and Polyphony
Genres: Pop, Classical
The huge success of Anonymous 4--four women who sing nothing but chant and polyphony from the Middle Ages--is one of the remarkable musical phenomena of the '90s. What this ensemble has proved is that, when it comes to mus... more »
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The huge success of Anonymous 4--four women who sing nothing but chant and polyphony from the Middle Ages--is one of the remarkable musical phenomena of the '90s. What this ensemble has proved is that, when it comes to music, time is insignificant and arbitrary. Art, and certainly that which is spiritual, is timeless and transcendent. Humans relate to the elemental forces of music the same today as they did last year or last millenium. This latest release is a return to the musical sources featured on the group's first, sensational recording, An English Ladymass. Here are chants and polyphonic pieces from 13th- and 14th-century England, selected and arranged to "create a Ladymass for the summer portion of the church year, as it might have been sung around the feast of Mary's Assumption in August." It's beautiful; it's sublime; it's otherworldly; and it's timeless. --David Vernier
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Medieval chants in honour of Our Lady
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This compilation of english chants from the 13th and 14th centuries in honour of Our Lady is really sublime, depicting an hipotethical Mass similar to those that could be sung in praise of God's Mother, in the afore-mentioned period. Anonymous 4 sing beautifully, and where the male medieval chant is determined, decided, firm and strong in the affirmation of religious faith, the female chant, like this one I am reviewing now, is subtle, kind, sweet and tender, almost angelical, but without lose any efectiveness in the expression of that same religious faith. It is an enormous pleasure to listen such a record, an authentic rest to the soul, and I obviously must recommend it. Finally, a last word to eulogize the visual presentation of the record made by Harmonia Mundi: the booklet, as usual on that label, is wonderfully illustrated."
Windy Welly | New Zealand | 04/19/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't understand a word of the lyrics but then music is so universal and this is no exception. I just love listening to it especially in the evening after a hard day's work and need to unwind. Very relaxing and with a good sound system puts you in another dimension."
English Ladymass at its best
FrKurt Messick | Bloomington, IN USA | 10/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The music on this disc comes from the tradition of special masses done in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a very popular figure in medieval Europe - in some languages, more than half the music that survives from this period was written dedicated to her. The Ladymass was often performed weekly, and in larger communities and cathedrals, daily, in the Lady Chapels.
The Anonymous 4 have arranged this disc around a mass sequence, using a Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus dei. They have also incorporated other pieces - motets, an Alleluia setting, and other pieces such as the conductus (several voices declaiming the same text together), are incorporated to fill out the programme. These would not have been performed in this kind of sequence and number in a proper worship service, but most would have been appropriate in worship settings during a Ladymass.
For this disc, these pieces of polyphony and chant come from the English tradition. Thus, many things that on the continent might have been in polyphonic setting, the Anonymous 4 have simplified and set in conductus style, which was often the case in English churches.
The music here is beautiful, in full flower of the spirit of the composition, the subject, and the power of the Anonymous 4 to bring such music to life.
-- Liner Notes --
This text accompaniment to this disc is very full, so much so that the booklet is not contained within the jewel case, but rather within a slipcover in which both the CD/jewel case and the booklet reside. The liner notes include a description of the work, a brief piece about the quartet, and the lyrics of the songs both in original language and in translation - all repeated in English, German, and French sections. The cover art comes from 'Coronation of the Virgin' from a Book of Hours, from France and Belgium, circa 1480. There are other details from this book and from other manuscripts found in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, throughout this booklet.
-- Anonymous 4 --
Contrary to the implication of their name, the Anonymous 4 are not anonymous. This is a vocal quartet made up of Ruth Cunningham, Marsha Genensky, Susan Hellauer, and Johanna Rose at the time of this recording (Ruth Cunningham will later go on to a solo career early, and another member will join - Jacqueline Horner). They came together as a formal group in 1986, and have been ensemble-in-residence at St. Michael's Church in New York City, giving concert series in New York as well as throughout North America. They have been featured a number of times on national media in North America as well as Germany. They then went on to yet more success, eventually performing more that 1000 concerts worldwide.
Their specialty is working with chant, monophonic and polyphonic music, and working with medieval texts. According to one source, 'The group takes its name from an anonymous music theorist of the late 13th century, Anonymous IV, who is the principal source on the two famous composers of the Notre Dame school, Léonin and Pérotin.'
The group ended a touring career of nearly two decades in 2004.