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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Uncle Dave Lewis
What a novel idea! Under the aegis of Naxos producer Colin J. Rae and annotator Dean Brierly, here is a two-disc compilation dedicated to the works of the most prolific composer of all time: Anonymous. There are lots of reasons why musical works come down through history without attribution; in the earliest days of notation, sacred compositions themselves were viewed as being the result of a collective for a collective purpose, and it was rare for a composer -- or even a scribe -- to affix his or her name to such a production. As musical works became associated more definitively with the hands that crafted them, the names gradually began to appear, though it was a long...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Uncle Dave Lewis
What a novel idea! Under the aegis of Naxos producer Colin J. Rae and annotator Dean Brierly, here is a two-disc compilation dedicated to the works of the most prolific composer of all time: Anonymous. There are lots of reasons why musical works come down through history without attribution; in the earliest days of notation, sacred compositions themselves were viewed as being the result of a collective for a collective purpose, and it was rare for a composer -- or even a scribe -- to affix his or her name to such a production. As musical works became associated more definitively with the hands that crafted them, the names gradually began to appear, though it was a long process and Anonymous works are still relatively common into the seventeenth century; it took a long time for the cult of the composer in Western music to become truly established. Music publishing had an important effect on this development because it was discovered that a work attached to a composer's name -- particularly that of a successful composer -- was more commercial than one that didn't have a composer at all. This led to a cottage industry of Anonymous music attributed to big name composers -- Franz Joseph Haydn was a frequent victim of the practice -- who had never seen the scores appearing under their names. But in this release, Naxos doesn't take the story quite so far; electing to end its survey of Anonymous at about 1700, and indeed, by this time the named composer was pretty much the rule of law; in manuscript copies a name was supplied to works -- often wrongly -- even if there was no name known. By virtue of restricting to such compass -- mainly the Medieval and Renaissance eras -- Naxos is able to showcase its wide variety of outstanding offerings in regard to music of these periods. The sequencing of the 48 Anonymous works presented is pleasant and easy to follow, and the performers represented are for the most part truly great ones -- Tonus Peregrinus, Ensemble Unicorn, Oni Wytars Ensemble, Rose Consort of Viols, and so forth. The only real shortcomings of the modest package -- which fetches a price point of two for the cost of a disc and a half -- is that we are not informed which albums the tracks are taken from, and the detailed tracklisting on the back of the jewel case is printed in a very small typeface that's hard to read. The titles and timings listing on the back of the outer slipcase is a little easier to read, but that of course doesn't tell us who is performing what; nevertheless, this time it didn't have to be cluttered up with a lot of composer names! An amusing liner note, provided by Brierly, posits a "biography" for Anonymous in a slightly tongue-in-cheek manner that is delightful and amusing. While we may never know who wrote the music on Naxos' Anonymous, it serves its purpose well as a quirky yet comprehensive collection of Naxos' early music recordings and is a bounty of music to boot.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 7/28/2009
  • Label: Naxos
  • UPC: 747313804474
  • Catalog Number: 8578044-45
  • Sales rank: 326,311


Disc 1
  1. 1 Avrix mi galanica (Let Me In, My Love) - Lord Byron & Sephardic Traditional (3:19)
  2. 2 Ich tät mir auserwählen (I chose for myself) - Bernhard Böhm & Anonymous, German (2:09)
  3. 3 Se grasse / Cum venerint / Ite missa est, motet - Lord Byron & Anonymous, French (1:31)
  4. 4 Cueurs desolez, song for 5 parts - Josquin Des Prez & Lord Byron (3:46)
  5. 5 Bog se rodi va Betleme - Lord Byron & Croatian Traditional (3:58)
  6. 6 Biance flour - Lord Byron & Anonymous, Italian (3:31)
  7. 7 Plus oultre, for 2 lutes - Nicolas Gombert & Lord Byron (2:39)
  8. 8 Work(s): Cantiga de Santa Maria No. 77 & 119 - Lord Byron & Alfonso X (el Sabio) (2:21)
  9. 9 Den III. ende - VI. Ronde - Quatre Branles, for ensemble ("Inden Cromhorn") - Lord Byron & Anonymous, Dutch (2:53)
  10. 10 Eya Martyr Stephane, carol for 2 voices - Lord Byron & Anonymous, English Polyphony (2:35)
  11. 11 Sancta Maria wohn uns bei, hymn - Lord Byron & Anonymous, German (2:35)
  12. 12 Pascha Nostrum, alleluia in mode 7 (Mass for Easter Sunday) (GR 197) - Aurora Surgit & Gregorian Chant (2:33)
  13. 13 Der Gestreifft Danntz - der Gassenhauer darauff, for lute - Bernhard Böhm & Anonymous, German (2:01)
  14. 14 Untitled work, for ensemble (from D-Mbs Mus. Ms. 3154) - Lord Byron & Anonymous, German (1:43)
  15. 15 Clauso chronos, CB 73 - Lord Byron & Anonymous, Carmina Burana (3:10)
  16. 16 Esta montaña d'enfrente (This Mountain in Front) - Lord Byron & Sephardic Traditional (3:31)
  17. 17 Greensleeves, folk song - Lord Byron & English Traditional (1:14)
  18. 18 Agnus Dei - Anonymous & Lord Byron (1:39)
  19. 19 Venite, benedicti patris mei, introit - Lord Byron & Ambrosian Chant (1:43)
  20. 20 Sa'dâwî - Lord Byron & Sephardic Traditional (2:08)
  21. 21 Mein Herz in hohen Freuden ist, hymn - Lord Byron & Anonymous, German (2:34)
  22. 22 Den I, II. ende - III. Gaillarde, for ensemble ("Inden Cromhorn") - Lord Byron & Anonymous, Dutch (2:00)
  23. 23 Si quis sermonem, psallenda - Lord Byron & Ambrosian Chant (1:28)
  24. 24 Apud Dominum (antiphona) - Psalmus 129 - Anonymous & Aurora Surgit (4:20)
  25. 25 Bujo (instrumental) - Peire Cardenal & Lord Byron (2:43)
  26. 26 Robin Hood & Maid Marian - Lord Byron & English Traditional (4:27)
  27. 27 Tourdion - Bernhard Böhm & Anonymous, French (1:21)
Disc 2
  1. 1 Düdül - Lord Byron & Turkish Traditional (2:37)
  2. 2 Untitled (Codex Faenza) - Lord Byron & Anonymous, Codex Faenza (2:20)
  3. 3 Jalla man, hymn - Lord Byron & Traditional Arabic-Andalusian (4:10)
  4. 4 Bacche, bene venies, CB 200 - Lord Byron & Anonymous, Carmina Burana (5:57)
  5. 5 Alma Redemptoris Mater - Lord Byron & Gregorian Chant (6:23)
  6. 6 Alma chorus / O du arme Judas, motet - Lord Byron & Anonymous, German (2:14)
  7. 7 Den hoboecken dans - Anonymous & Lord Byron (1:46)
  8. 8 Nevestinko oro - Lord Byron & Macedonian Traditional (3:16)
  9. 9 In nomine - Anonymous & Lord Byron (3:47)
  10. 10 Requiem aeternam (introitus) - Kyrie - Anonymous & Aurora Surgit (3:51)
  11. 11 Kyrie Eleison - Anonymous & Lord Byron (3:20)
  12. 12 Quant voi la florette, Motet - Anonymous & Lord Byron (4:00)
  13. 13 Keh Moshe, chant - Lord Byron & Jewish Traditional (1:48)
  14. 14 Aurora Lucis, hymn for Easter - Aurora Surgit & Gregorian Chant (2:26)
  15. 15 Domna, pos vos ay chausida - Lord Byron & Anonymous, Troubadour (2:24)
  16. 16 Den III., I. ende - VI. Ronde, for ensemble ("Inden Cromhorn") - Lord Byron & Anonymous, Dutch (2:27)
  17. 17 Jay grant espoir - Anonymous & Lord Byron (2:47)
  18. 18 Greensleeves (Balcarres Lute Book) - Anonymous & Lord Byron (2:23)
  19. 19 Basse Danse "La Magdalena" - Pierre Attaingnant & Bernhard Böhm (2:48)
  20. 20 O Deathe, Rock Me A-Sleepe - Anonymous & Lord Byron (4:19)
  21. 21 Partos trocados (Babes Exchanged) - Lord Byron & Sephardic Traditional (5:53)
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    We Are Gathered for Anonymous Reasons

    For listeners fascinated with early music, Naxos' new 2-CD compilation album of music by Anonymous, the most prolific composer in music history, might offer great value. For listeners with broader tastes in classical music, it's a slightly excessive compilation featuring a broad spectrum of vocal and instrumental works from the 15th-17th centuries. The collection might have been more effective if edited down to a single disc with more historical notes about the music and its effect on music history. For example, one version of Greensleeves, perhaps one of the most famous Anonymous tunes, seemed adequate. The second version included on disc 2 wasn't so distinctively unique to warrant a second track. Throughout the series, one can enjoy fascinating glimpses of almost all the seeds of Western music history: examples of sacred and secular choral forms, the evolution of polyphony, dances and chamber music, the progression of art song, and even use of dissonance and atonality. All very interesting, however in smaller doses.

    The brief essay included in the attractive packaging seems written to simply arouse curiosity about the elusive and mysterious Anonymous as an important figure in Western music history. The package lacks any further musical explanation about each piece. But with 48 tracks, it would have been more costly to produce a more substantial booklet of information. Perhaps the collection's most disappointing flaw is a lack of translations of the vocal texts.

    The performances themselves do seem well chosen from some of the world's finest early music artistes and ensembles; but listening to this voluminous collection is much like taking a cursory stroll through a rather packed museum without learning a whole lot about the art inside. If you are producing an interesting play, scoring an artistic film, teaching a music history course, or simply curious about early Anonymous music, you might find this set useful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Who was that composer?

    Consider the case of Anonymous, one of the most prolific of all creative artists. A poet, playwright, painter and composer, Anonymous has been published in dozens of volumes, Anonymous' art has been displayed in museums (and on cave walls and the sides of subway trains) across the world. Anonymous is buried in cemeteries everywhere.

    The Anonymous this recording celebrates is the musical Anonymous, a composer who flourished in the Middle Ages and early Renaissance and who composed in many genres. Obviously we are not speaking of one composer but one of many who wrote some highly engaging music. If you put the witty conceit aside and take the recording at face value, what we have is a very well chosen compilation of early music drawn from over a dozen Naxos recordings. What makes this work is the sheer variety of musical styles. There's lots of chant from the East and West, troubadour songs, selections from the Medieval Carmina Burana, English songs and consort music and. You name it and it is here. This kind of compilation might be too disjointed for early music purists who want to hear all of their Carmina Burana in one sequence; all of their consort music is one set, etc. No matter, it's an interesting mix of repertoire and certainly works as a solid introduction to early music.

    One small cavil - it would have been a bit more user-friendly if there was something that identified the original album from which each selection was drawn but there is only so much space in liner notes. Perhaps the somewhat cute at all costs liner notes could have been trimmed some? Rest assured though, musically this is a top-notch package. The performances are all outstanding and there is plenty of music on the two discs. Perhaps not the set for a detailed exploration of a particular genre, but it is ideal if you want to enjoy Medieval Times in your living room. Wait a minute; there were no CDs in Medieval Times.Get this one anyway!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    "Anonymous" two-CD set

    This is a 2-CD set of works composed by "Anonymous." The Naxos sleeve-notes humorously tell us that Anonymous was "The ultimate no-name composer [who] was, ironically, the most prolific, versatile, and long-lived [that] the world has ever not known." Sadly, this raises a key point about this CD set: Naxos's notes, usually excellent, leave listeners in the dark about who the performers are and upon what instruments they are playing. In unusual CDs like these, surely all but the most casual of listeners will want to know the names of the instruments, which sound highly unusual.
    Vice their customary booklet, Naxos includes only a folded sheet of paper, of which half expounds, at great length, on the contributions over the centuries of many composers, both male and female, whose names remained undocumented. Of the remaining space, 1/4 is taken up with a blurry photograph of an unidentified building and Anonymous (the name of the CD set), while 3/4 is taken up with photos of previously issued Naxos CDs.
    I therefore chose to do some research on a few of the more unusual songs. "Düdül" (CD 2, track 1), a traditional Turkish melody, was previously issued on 8.554064. "Jálla man" (CD 2, track 3) and "Keh Moshe" (CD 2, track 13) were previously issued on 8.557637. Several tracks were previously issued on 8.553617 ("Sephardic Romances"). Some of the Flemish dances were previously issued on 8.554425 ("At the Sign of the Crumhorn"). All of these CDs have helpful program notes about the music and the period instruments. I feel strongly that Naxos should have made an effort to include more information with this 2-CD set. One title is given incorrectly as "Den, hoboecken dans"; it is written correctly as "Den hoboecken dans" on CD 8.554425. I did not track down the other songs on this 2-CD set, but it would not surprise me to find that all of them were taken from previously issued Naxos CDs.
    The CDs contain a remarkably wide range of songs, composed over a wide time-span, that have obviously been gathered from many different countries. I could say something about every track, but then this critique would be 6 pages long. To my ear, the performances and recorded sound are both excellent.
    Summary: an enjoyable 2-CD set marred only by lack of informative program notes.
    Naxos db 8.578044-45

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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