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A Star in the East: Medieval Hungarian Christmas Music
Anonymous 4
A Star in the East: Medieval Hungarian Christmas Music
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (20) - Disc #1

Anonymous 4 has explored some pretty unusual repertoire over the years, but medieval Hungarian Christmas music has to be one of the more exotic regions and one of the least familiar to Western audiences. And yet, on clos...  more »

      
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CD Details

All Artists: Anonymous 4
Title: A Star in the East: Medieval Hungarian Christmas Music
Members Wishing: 4
Total Copies: 0
Label: Harmonia Mundi Fr.
Release Date: 8/27/1996
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
Styles: Holiday & Wedding, Opera & Classical Vocal, Historical Periods, Early Music
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 093046713928, 093046713942

Synopsis

Amazon.com essential recording
Anonymous 4 has explored some pretty unusual repertoire over the years, but medieval Hungarian Christmas music has to be one of the more exotic regions and one of the least familiar to Western audiences. And yet, on closer inspection this music has close ties to Christian chant that flourished in France, Germany, and Italy--distinguished by later alterations and embellishments inspired by local influences. Gradually, a specific Hungarian character emerged in this music, which can clearly be discerned in the repertoire on this program. Indeed, we can hear variations on traditional Latin chants such as the Advent hymn "Verbum supernum prodiens" as well as the application of different words to standard chant melodies. Ultimately, this music invokes the same spiritual precepts and representational images of the Christmas story experienced by more distant European congregations. And these performances bear the mark of Anonymous 4's established standard of excellence. --David Vernier

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CD Reviews

Familar but not quite
M. J. Smith | Seattle, WA USA | 09/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The history of the destruction of much of the Hungarian Christian repetoire gives interesting insights into why this variant of plainsong is essential unknown. Because of the limited survival of polyphonic pieces, this performance is less varied than On Yoolis Night. There is one, and only one, motet.The notes describe the identifying characteristics of Hungarian chant as "wide intervallic leaps, pentatonic tendencies and extended cadences". I'll take their word for the technical description.If you like plainsong or polyphony, you will enjoy this cd. The chant is just enough different to add variety to your listening and just similar enough to not require new listening skills.As usual, the Anonymous 4 have done us the favor of bringing unfamilar music to our attention and performing it excellently so that we can come to share their enthusiasm for it."
Hauntingly Beautiful
Judy Judd | New York | 10/31/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This CD has become a Christmas time staple in my house. It, along with On Yoolis Night, warms up my holidays."
Usual High Quality of Performance and Recording. Not best fo
B. Marold | Bethlehem, PA United States | 11/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"'Legends of St. Nicholas' and 'A Star in the East' are both collections of medieval Christmas music. Both are based heavily on Latin chants. The first has some old English lyrics and the second is based on both original Hungarian material and material imported into Hungary from Greece and other centers of Eastern Christianity.

If you are considering one or the other, I find the 'Legends of St. Nicholas' to be the more diverse of the two, as it has chant, polyphony, and even some solo voices. The Hungarian selection seems just a bit too much like all the other material done by Anonymous 4.

To be sure, both are done with a typically exceptional high quality voice and recording technique, so you will not go wrong with either recording.

Both are highly recommended!"