Anonymous 4 - La Bele Marie

Published Thursday 6th August 2015
Anonymous 4 - La Bele Marie
Anonymous 4 - La Bele Marie

STYLE: Classical
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
LABEL: HM Gold HMG507312

This product is currently not available from Cross Rhythms Direct

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

Anonymous 4 is an all-female a cappella quartet that specialises in scholarly reconstructions of Medieval music although more recent ventures into Americana have proved popular. The singing and sound quality on this disc are numinous and one wonders how it would be possible to do it better. As a demonstration of vocal technique this is exquisite. The material is a collection of 13th century French songs to Mary, from the Latin clerical tradition as well as from the vernacular art song repertoire of the northern French wandering singers. The Latin pieces were all written as "conductus", a term to describe music used in processions. The French songs ("chansons") are mainly recycled folk songs with new words in honour of Mary. While the performance is above reproach I found myself wanting an instrumental interlude or accompaniment to add some variety although I confess that when I reached the end of the disc I was surprised to see it ran to 66 minutes, so clearly it did not drag. Personally I am more likely to return to the Anonymous 4 of Americana than Medieval France but if ever someone asks me about conductus and chansons then this is where I will direct them. One note of caution: this is a re-issue of a disc first released in 2002 in a different cover but, to end on a positive, the re-issue is competitively priced.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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