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The Origin Of Fire - Hildegard Von Bingen / Anonymous 4


Release Date: 02/08/2005 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 907327   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Hildegard of BingenAnonymous
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 6 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews


Critique or tribute? Now that we bid farewell to Anonymous 4--this is the famed foursome's last recording--we realize that it's been 18 years and 15 or so discs since four unknown young singers decided that (whatever were they thinking?) it would be a cool idea for four women to sing medieval chant and polyphony, for audiences, no less(!) when no one had ever before dared imagine such a thing. And who could have predicted the 1990s world-wide craze for all things chant or the effect of Anonymous 4's appearance on an NPR show--and how lucky they were to have been "picked up" by a label with the sharp A & R instincts and staunch commitment to its artists--not to mention the high
Read more production standards--of Harmonia Mundi USA.


Besides reviewing every one of Anonymous 4's recordings for several international publications (including this one), I also wrote articles about the activities of the ensemble, sat in on a recording session, and attended numerous live performances, from Keene, New Hampshire to New York City to Saint Riquier, France. (I even wrote a parody review for Classicstoday.com of their first CD, An English Ladymass, titled "An English Girlymass"--and they posted it on their website!) Remarkably, the quality of performance never varied; the sincerity and personal commitment of the singers never faltered. The focus, the mission, the group's purpose--to sing medieval chant and polyphony--never wavered.


The fact is, these women didn't just sing chant better than anyone else on the planet; they diligently researched and intelligently programmed it, presenting a purposeful, informative package in high-quality recordings that captivated all who listened with the group's amazing, ethereal purity of sound, as if emanating from one heavenly voice. And unlike some other early-music groups, who seemed to regard detached, emotionless interpretations as a badge of "authenticity", Anonymous 4's performances invariably conveyed the joy of singing that these women obviously felt--and breathed and lived for all those years.


As for the present recording--actually completed in the fall of 2003--the group returns to music of Hildegard von Bingen, which they more or less introduced to masses of new listeners on their 1997 disc titled 11,000 Virgins, which focused on chants for the Feast of St. Ursula. This time the theme is the Holy Spirit, particularly Hildegard's visions and their powerful imagery, where fire and light held an important place. Hildegard's own chants are interspersed with selected excerpts from four of these visions--The fire of creation; Wisdom and her sisters; The fiery spirit; Love--which Anonymous 4 has set to hymns and sequences drawn "from medieval German sources".


If you're a fan of chant--and especially if you are an experienced listener--you will be impressed with the sophistication and sheer beauty of Hildegard's work; and if you're a fan of sublime singing, well, you'll find it here, as we always have, performed to perfection by the uniquely gifted, phenomenal, Anonymous 4. So, this turned out to be more tribute than review. But to a group who has maintained such high musical and performance values and has delivered such a distinguished body of work for the last decade-and-a half, they deserve it. Farewell, "girls". We'll miss you. [For information on what's next for these singers, check out their website, www.anonymous4.com.] [1/7/2005]
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1. O ignee Spiritus by Hildegard of Bingen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
Period: Medieval 
Written: 12th Century; Germany 
Date of Recording: 10/2003 
Venue:  Christian Brothers Center, Napa, CA 
Length: 10 Minutes 2 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
Notes: This selection is a multichannel recording. 
2. O quam mirabilis est by Hildegard of Bingen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
Period: Medieval 
Written: 12th Century; Germany 
Date of Recording: 10/2003 
Venue:  Christian Brothers Center, Napa, CA 
Length: 3 Minutes 26 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
3. O ignis spiritus Paracliti by Hildegard of Bingen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
Period: Medieval 
Written: 12th Century; Germany 
Date of Recording: 10/2003 
Venue:  Christian Brothers Center, Napa, CA 
Length: 7 Minutes 50 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
4. O felix anima by Hildegard of Bingen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
Period: Medieval 
Written: 12th Century; Germany 
Date of Recording: 10/2003 
Venue:  Christian Brothers Center, Napa, CA 
Length: 6 Minutes 33 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
5. O eterne Deus by Hildegard of Bingen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
Period: Medieval 
Written: 12th Century; Germany 
Date of Recording: 10/2003 
Venue:  Christian Brothers Center, Napa, CA 
Length: 2 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
6. Caritas abundat in omnia by Hildegard of Bingen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
Period: Medieval 
Written: 12th Century; Germany 
Date of Recording: 10/2003 
Venue:  Christian Brothers Center, Napa, CA 
Length: 2 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
7. Veni creator by Anonymous
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
Period: Medieval 
Date of Recording: 10/2003 
Venue:  Christian Brothers Center, Napa, CA 
Length: 4 Minutes 26 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
8. Veni spiritus eternorum by Anonymous
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
Period: Medieval 
Written: by 12th Century 
Date of Recording: 10/2003 
Venue:  Christian Brothers Center, Napa, CA 
Length: 2 Minutes 37 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
9. Karlsruhe manuscript Aug. 60: Invitatory tone 4D by Anonymous
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
Period: Medieval 
Date of Recording: 10/2003 
Venue:  Christian Brothers Center, Napa, CA 
Length: 1 Minutes 46 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
10. Christmas Matins: Consurge by Anonymous
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
Period: Medieval 
Date of Recording: 10/2003 
Venue:  Christian Brothers Center, Napa, CA 
Length: 3 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
11. Christmas Matins: Primo tempore alleviata by Anonymous
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
Period: Medieval 
Date of Recording: 10/2003 
Venue:  Christian Brothers Center, Napa, CA 
Length: 3 Minutes 18 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
Notes: Version: British Museum Add. 28598 
12. Karlsruhe manuscript Aug. 60: Obsolete simple invitatory tone by Anonymous
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
Period: Medieval 
Date of Recording: 10/2003 
Venue:  Christian Brothers Center, Napa, CA 
Length: 2 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
13. Christmas Matins: Una cunctis leticie by Anonymous
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
Period: Medieval 
Date of Recording: 10/2003 
Venue:  Christian Brothers Center, Napa, CA 
Length: 4 Minutes 54 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
14. Karlsruhe manuscript Aug. 60: Invitatory tone 2 by Anonymous
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
Period: Medieval 
Date of Recording: 10/2003 
Venue:  Christian Brothers Center, Napa, CA 
Length: 2 Minutes 6 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
15. Beata nobis gaudia by Anonymous
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
Period: Medieval 
Date of Recording: 10/2003 
Venue:  Christian Brothers Center, Napa, CA 
Length: 2 Minutes 47 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
16. Karlsruhe manuscript Aug. 60: Invitatory tone 4E by Anonymous
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
Period: Medieval 
Date of Recording: 10/2003 
Venue:  Christian Brothers Center, Napa, CA 
Length: 2 Minutes 22 Secs. 
Language: Latin 

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