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GRAMOPHONE (04/1996)
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Harmonia Mundi
HMG 507156

Code-barres / Barcode : 0794881852727

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Susan Hellauer's lucid introduction to the contents of Jacobus , the Liber Sancti Jacobi (the Codex Calixtinus) makes fascinating reading. Following Christopher Hohler, she points out that this extraordinary collection of liturgical items, non-liturgical pilgrim songs, sermons, chants and lessons in honour of St James, was originally destined for the use of French schoolboys, presumably with voix blanches. That being so, this recording by a group of high female voices may be easily vindicated: Anonymous 4 bring to their performance that smooth, unsophisticated vocal blend we have come to expect from them. It is a lovely sound, and their intelligent and imaginative approach sticks resolutely to middle ground, avoiding excesses of orientation and extremes of interpretative theory.


A few pieces, such as the Salve festa dies, are partly measured , others, such as the Offertory, Ascendens Ihesus, follow a more 'plain chant' approach . I think the balance of rhythmic styles works well almost throughout, one exception being the troped Kyrie Cunctipotens genitor , where the purely chant passages could have had a little more vigour pumped into them. I know there are only four performers, but some clear distinction between solo and group for the verse sections seemed to be lacking.

Mary Berry


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