Anonymous 4 – Secret Voices: Chant and Polyphony from the Las Huelgas Codex (2011)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/88.2kHz  | Time – 58:16 minutes | 1,04 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | © harmonia mundi
Recorded: November, 2009 and April, 2011 at Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Indiana; and Skywalker Sound, a Lucasfilm Ltd Company, Marin County, California

Anonymous 4 revisit their favourite era in repertoire that illuminates medieval women’s affinity for the most complex polyphony of their time. Spanning the entire 13th century — from virtuosic motets and conductus to heartfelt laments and sacred songs—the remarkable Las Huelgas manuscript was compiled for a convent of aristocratic Castilian women who (in spite of a rule forbidding Cistercian nuns from singing polyphony) sang the most beautiful, advanced and demanding music from all across Gothic-era Europe.

There are elegant French love motets here, like Claustrum pudicicie/Virgo viget, which were retro-fitted with holy words for the sisters to sing. There are conductus, like Mater patris et filia, Ave maris stella and Parens patris natique, with unpredictable rhythms and lively hockets. There are also heartfelt laments, like O monialis conscio, written on the death of a beloved member of the sisterhood. The sisters had written or collected for them, virtuoso polyphony for the daily Mass as well, and we include several of these: the troped Kyrie Rex virginum and Gloria Spiritus et alme. We also get a glimpse into the musical dedication of the convent in a unique “solfeggio” exercise, Fa Fa Mi / Ut Re Mi, for the sister’s music lessons, where they practiced singing their hexachords under the watchful ear of the music mistress. The repertoire of the Las Huelgas manuscript provides the proof that Anonymous 4, far from singing ‘men’s music’, are following in the footsteps of their much-older sisters who had no difficulty (except from their male monastic superiors) in finding and performing the most virtuosic, avant-garde polyphonic music of their time. It’s time now for Anonymous 4 to bring them to life again.

‘The Las Huelgas Codex is a collection of sacred and secular music copied out at the beginning of the 1300s. It was created at the Cistercian convent in Burgos, Spain, and contains both monophonic (single voice) and polyphonic pieces. The nuns of the convent sang this glorious polyphony despite the rules of their order proscribing the performance of music with more than one part. These are the ‘secret voices’ of Anonymous 4’s new release; the group brings this distant era alive, assembling from the Codex a musical representation o f the sisters’ monastic day, from ‘First Light’ to ‘Night.’ Not all the music is devotional in tone. The ten-movement mass that forms the center of A4’s program (and, presumably, the nuns’ day) features a sunny, lilting motet ‘Salve virgo regia/Ave gloriosa mater,’ and later on we’re given the rollicking, round-like ”Benedicamus domino a 3′. Despite the passage of time, with only a single change in personnel in their 20- year recording history, the quartet sounds as fresh and pure in its ensemble sonority as ever. The unison chant is ravishing and the complex polvohonv is rendered with admirable transparency.’ (Andrew Quint, The Absolute Sound)

“There are many reasons why this is a superlative issue. First of course is the wonderful but rarely heard music of the Las Huelgas manuscript…And then there is the singing of Anonymous 4, who are hard to challenge in this kind of repertory. It is not just that their tuning is astonishing…It is also that they have four very distinctive voices that manage to blend perfectly and balance perfectly without at any point losing clarity.” (Gramophone)

Tracklist:
First Light
1 | Sequence: Virgines egregie 2’58
2 | Conductus: Ave maris stella 3’10
3 | Motet: Claustrum pudicicie / Virgo viget / FLOS FILIUS 2’18
Morning
4 | Discant: Fa fa mi / Ut re mi 1’23
5 | Conductus-Motet: O Maria virgo / O Maria maris stella / [IN VERITATE] 3’17
6 | Benedicamus domino: cum cantico 1’29
Mass
7 | Motet: Salve porta / Salve salus / Salve sancta parens 0’56
8 | Kirie: Rex virginum amator 4’19
9 | Gloria: Spiritus et alme 5’30
10 | Sequence: Verbum bonum et suave 2’46
11 | Motet: Salve virgo regia /Ave gloriosa mater / [DOMINO] 2’59
12 | Sanctus & Benedictus 1’39
13 | Motet: Gaude virgo nobilis / Verbum caro factum / ET VERITATE 2’42
14 | Agnus dei: Gloriosa spes reorum 3’27
15 | Planctus: O monialis conscio 3’06
16 | Benedicamus domino: Belial vocatur 1’57
Evening
17 | Sequence: In virgulto gracie 3’02
18 | Motet: Ave regina celorum / Alma redemptoris mater / [ALMA] 1’50
19 | Benedicamus domino à 3 (rondellus) 1’32
Night
20 | Song: Si vocatus ad nupcias 1’26
21 | Conductus: Mater patris et filia 4’22
22 | Benedicamus domino à 2 0’42
23 | Song: Omnium in te christe 1’35

Anonymous 4:
Ruth Cunningham
Marsha Genensky
Susan Hellauer
Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek

Download:

An0nym0us4SecretV0icesChantandP0lyph0nyfr0mtheLasHuelgasC0dex201188.224.part1.rar – 1024.0 MB
An0nym0us4SecretV0icesChantandP0lyph0nyfr0mtheLasHuelgasC0dex201188.224.part2.rar – 78.6 MB