Music and Vision homepage

Record Box


Christmas carols and chants played by Anonymous 4,
enjoyed by

harmonia mundi    HMX 2907411.14

Noël - Carols and Chants for Christmas. Anonymous 4. © 1993, 1996, 1999, 2003, 2005 harmonia mundi usa

One of the radiant joys of the commercial production of CD box sets is the steady issue from musically dedicated companies of priceless material [listen -- CD1 track 22, 0:01-0:51]. It rests on the choice, perhaps, of a single composer, or, in this case, an anthology. Yes, there's also a pop side to this market which can scoop up lashings of general favourites in a box set for gift hunters.

In this case, however, the purpose is essentially musical: a discerning collection of 'Carols and Chants for Christmas' [listen -- CD4 track 20, 5:00-5:57] exquisitely presented by a celebrated group (Anonymous 4). The presentation is scholarly, inclusive of a 150 page book which contains all the original texts (plus translations) with extensive and illustrated notes.

Anonymous 4. Photo © Christian Steiner
Anonymous 4. Photo © Christian Steiner

Maybe I'm a simpleton amongst dedicated bargain hunters, but I still feel elated with such care [listen -- CD3 track 10, 0:02-1:06] lavished on something utterly musical in an area specifically so adventurous. The purchaser receives a treasure chest [listen -- CD2 track 18, 1:39-2:44]. One might add, after endless tub-thumping, that readers hopefully remember before rushing to place an order -- this production forms a dedicated service to Music, completely free of any commercial inducement. The realisation of 'Carols and Chants for Christmas' is exclusively from medieval sources. To me a welcome accomplishment, to others, sadly, a little austere for a joyful occasion.

Copyright © 30 November 2005 Basil Ramsey, Yorkshire UK


Noël - Carols and Chants for Christmas - Anonymous 4

HMX 2907411.14 Stereo REISSUE (4 CDs) 69'46"/66'27"/68'03"/68'20" - TT 272'36" 1993, 1996, 1999, 2003, 2005 harmonia mundi usa

Anonymous 4: Ruth Cunningham (CD1, 3 and 4); Marsha Genensky; Susan Hellauer; Jacqueline Horner (CD2); Johanna Maria Rose; with Andrew Lawrence-King (CD2), Irish harp, baroque harp, psaltery

CD1: Legends of St Nicholas - Medieval European Chant and Polyphony; CD2: Wolcum Yule - Celtic and British Songs and Carols; CD3: On Yoolis Night - Medieval Carols and Motets; CD4: A Star in the East - Medieval Hungarian Christmas Music




 << Music & Vision home      Recent CD reviews       Rameau >>

Download a free realplayer 

For help listening to the sound extracts here,
please refer to our questions & answers page.

Record Box is Music & Vision's regular series of shorter CD reviews