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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning and uplifting, 21 Dec 2005
By 
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: An English Ladymass (Audio CD)
The Ladymass is a special votive mass dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary - most major cathedrals would have a daily mass in the Lady chapel (a smaller worship space within the cathedral), and some churches would have special masses in honour of the Virgin on Saturdays. According to Hellauer, 'Of the English polyphony preserved from this time, almost all of which is sacred, roughly two-thirds is in honour of the Virgin.' The work here does not occur in one set piece as it might have back in the medieval times, for no complete records of this sort have survived. The Anonymous 4 have pieced together elements including chants, motets, and other mass elements to complete the task.
The voices of the Anonymous 4 are markedly different from men-and-boys choirs or monks that are typically the recording artists of this kind of music. It is often forgotten that such music was sung by women and monastic communities of nuns in the medieval time, too. One critic remarked, 'There is a captivating simplicity and directness about their performance, which naturally avoids many of the pitfalls of an overstretched attempt at reconstruction.' This is certainly true in this recording, which is wonderful in tone.
There is a spirit to the music. It is remarkable that a group with three sopranos and an alto could give such breadth and depth to the music, but it certainly is true of their performances. This particular recording is the first of theirs done for Harmonia Mundi.
-- 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 Latin and in translation - all repeated in English, German, and French sections.
-- 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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Heavenly Sounds, 22 Feb 2014
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This review is from: An English Ladymass (Audio CD)
Wonderful CD that transports you immediately into medieval cloisters and vaulted ceiling with its unearthly sound. Just exquisite and from the brilliant group that brought us On Yoolis Night. An acquired taste but if you have it this is the most fabulous treat.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 16 Oct 2014
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Ida Marie Pedersen (Denmark) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: An English Ladymass (Audio CD)
Beautiful singing by a group of highly skilled musicians. Slightly monotonous, however; I'd recommend "On Yoolis Night" instead.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly enchanting, 6 Dec 2011
By 
Alex HB (Berkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: An English Ladymass (Audio CD)
I bought this album for my Mum's birthday and she absolutely loves it. Evokes the magic and tranquillity of the Medieval choir. Perfect for rainy winter afternoons with a mug of warm coffee and a magazine. I also think it is one of best albums by Anonymous 4.
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An English Ladymass
An English Ladymass by Anonymous (Audio CD - 1992)
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