Anonymous 4 - Three Decades Of Anonymous 4

Published Saturday 10th September 2016
Anonymous 4 - Three Decades Of Anonymous 4
Anonymous 4 - Three Decades Of Anonymous 4

STYLE: Choral
RATING 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
LABEL: Harmonia Mundi HMU907570

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

This retrospective collection celebrates three decades of Anonymous 4 on the Harmonia Mundi label. From 1986 to 2016 Anonymous 4 released 23 albums with sales in excess of two million. Now the ladies have decided to call it a day and this compilation is a suitable send off. Narrowing down such an extensive back-catalogue to 22 tracks must have been a challenge but the end result is a satisfying cross-section of their musical journey. The programme is predominantly but not exclusively Early Music with some examples of their more recent excursions into Americana. Actually I was a little worried that the different genres on display would not sit comfortably together and was preparing to reprogramme the running order but I need not have worried. Whether they are singing 19th century Spirituals, such as "Wayfaring Stranger" (technically a "Religious Ballad") or the music of mysterious visionary Hildegard of Bingen from the 11th century matters not at all. The renowned purity and vocal blend of the four singers (there have been five members over the years but only four at one time) shows that the worship of God through the centuries remains the same, even if fashions in music come and go. While we may be tempted to visit our favourite download store and cherry pick tracks I would urge you to go for the whole package. The CD is beautifully presented with many pictures, full lyrics and an introduction to each piece to set it in context. The thrill of moving, as we do if we follow the approved running order, from the American Civil War song "The Faded Coat Of Blue" to Benjamin Britten's "A New Year Carol" and then an Offetory chant from Sant'Iago is an experience well worth the having. Ladies of Anonymous 4 we thank you.

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