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GRAMOPHONE (09/2001)
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Appréciation d'ensemble / Overall evaluation :

Reviewer: Mary Berry

More entertaining musical archaeology put to distinguished practice by Anonymous 4


This selection of 17 ballate by the blind 14th-century organist and composer Francesco Landini is brilliantly performed by Anonymous 4. Landini lost his sight after an attack of smallpox in childhood, yet the texts of his love songs, some of which may well be from his own pen, are full of rich imagery, of trees and flowers and of snow melting in the sunlight: they speak of ‘seeing', of ‘looking upon' beauty, and they display all the freshness of a childhood memory. Landini's musical creativity is matched by the singing, which is generally fast and light, with an unmistakable purity of tone that characterises this ensemble. Very rarely, the highest notes just miss perfection, but in general the tuning and timing are marvellously satisfying to the ear. I particularly enjoyed the ravishing Che cos'è quest'amor and also the charming La bionda treçça.

Well in keeping with the high quality of the performance is Susan Hellauer 's 46-page booklet. Scholarly and informative , it sets the composer in his century, which was also that of Dante's Divine Comedy, and throws light on how the group solved the problem of the untexted lines in the original source - by adding texts or by discreetly imitating through humming the gentle sound of instruments. Lavishly illustrated , with an attractive layout giving full references and translated into French , German and ltalian, it is a model of user-friendly insert notes.

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