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  • American Angels - Songs of Hope, Redemption, & Glory
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American Angels - Songs of Hope, Redemption, & Glory Import


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Audio CD, Import, February 10, 2004
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American Angels - Songs of Hope, Redemption, & Glory + Gloryland + The Cherry Tree - Songs, Carols & Ballads for Christmas
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 10, 2004)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: harmonia mundi
  • ASIN: B0001ADB4Q
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,118 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Holy Manna
2. Abbeville
3. Wondrous Love
4. Sweet Hour Of Prayer
5. Jewett
6. Dunlap's Creek
7. New Britain
8. The Morning Trumpet
9. Resignation
10. Poland
11. Wayfaring Stranger
12. Sweet By And By
13. Blooming Vale
14. Idumea (I)/Idumea (II)
15. Sweet Prospect
16. Shall We Gather At The River
17. Amanda
18. Invitation
19. Parting Hand
20. Angel Band

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Amazon.com

This, Anonymous 4's final recording, is a break from their usual "early music" periods and locations; it presents American music, religious in nature, from the 18th and 19th centuries. And it's absolutely beautiful from start to finish. Their normal, exquisite technique and purity here blend to sound the way we imagined the ladies' choir in church meetings in America past might have sounded: sweet, sincere, and with harmonies recognizable yet somehow fresh. Some of the songs begin with the women singing "fa, so la" exercises, which was called "shape note" singing because some places taught singing with notes as shapes--circle, rectangle, diamond, triangle. But it's the music that counts, and there are treasures here. They include two versions of "Amazing Grace," one familiar, one with an unusual melody and a piece called "Blooming Vale" which is as sophisticated as anything on their previous albums. "Shall We Gather at the River" is performed with a clarity and loveliness that makes us forget that it's normally sung as background to movies about the Great Depression. The foursome sometimes sing in rich harmonies and occasionally alone or in pairs or trios. This is glorious Americana and highly recommended. --Robert Levine

Customer Reviews

Enjoy, it's great music.
E. Z. Cullen
Harmony is just a basic fundamental of music that makes it sound beautiful and gorgeous.
Callie
I will say that I listen to American Angels more than any other A4 CD I own.
Diana Lewis-Chun

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Luke on October 7, 2004
Format: Audio CD
This has to be my favorite Anonymous 4 album. True, it is not Hildegard von Bingen or Tavener, but this music has a beauty of its own. It is able to be both obtainable and transcendent. Talk about a paradox. It floods my heart with memories of my earthly home, while sending my soul in flight to my heavenly one.

I do not mean to put down others' opinions, but I really must object to two. First,whoever says that this music is all about the melody has obviously never heard the sound of a Primitive Church Song Meeting. IT'S ALL ABOUT THE HARMONY! Many, many times the melody, which is in the men's tenor, is almost drowned out by the ladies' treble. Singing your part out is encouraged whether you have the melody or not, and since our ear naturally hears the higher part louder, it's not unusual to lose the melody. I actually find it SO much easier to hear the melodies on this album, than in an actual meeting.

Also, those claiming that this music is not Southern are mistaken. The style may have originated in 18th cent. New England, and many of the tunes were composed by New Englanders, but since the mid-nineteenth cent. and the "Better Music" movement, these songs have been almost exclusively confined to the rural South. The most prominent of the VERY few reasons the tradition survives to this day is that it has been zealously upheld by the Old Order and other small Calvinist-Baptist sects of the Southern hills. If it was not originally Southern, it has now become so. And this recording is no where near Dixie Chicks. With this you have a wonderous reverence, with DC a 'honky-tonkism'.

I would like to say that the other major reason I love this album is because it kind of makes this music legitimate.
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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful By John Smith on March 2, 2004
Format: Audio CD
The critics of "American Angels" are correct in one sense: this disc is very atypical for an Anonymous 4 recording. But there is good reason for this: the songs are from an era hundreds of years later than their typical choices. So before you read any further, I should warn you that if you desire a selection of medieval or Renaissance vocal stylings, then this disc is not for you.
But after over a dozen Early Music recordings, the Anonymous 4 can be forgiven for attempting something new with their swan song disc (they have since disbanded), and they did: this recording consists entirely of American spiritual music from the 18th and 19th centuries. And the results are unspeakably beautiful. In my estimation, these are some of the most beautiful recordings of American religious music ever recorded. All Anonymous 4 recordings will produce vocal music of unparalleled technical brilliance, but on this disc, their always-sonorous voices grant these traditional American hymns a rare and beautiful elegance. Please, listen to the clips and decide for yourself: I am sure you will find "American Angels" to be an absolute revelation.
I know what some of you are thinking: but is this "classical music"? Well, I don't know. Perhaps this recording doesn't have a place next to your Dufay and Machaut CDs, but whatever you want to call it, I, for one, sure think it's beautiful.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Callie on December 29, 2004
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Now everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I really disagree with that review that complained about too much harmony. Harmony is just a basic fundamental of music that makes it sound beautiful and gorgeous. So why is harmony so terrible? Anonymous 4 is very harmonious and knows how to enhance the music performance. They are not absent of melody. These tunes stood out to me. Besides, if a I wanted an exact replica of how these songs sounded 150 years ago, I could have gotten a CD of a performance of by a Baptist choir. But I chose this CD because from the time I first heard this ensemble perform these songs on public radio, I was enchanted. They perform songs that are very meaningful to me, such as "Sweet Hour of Prayer" a hymn that I have treasured in my church for ages. I was very inspired by such songs as "Holy Manna" and "Amazing Grace" because they make me imagine the spiritual pioneer experience. Other meaningful treasures are "Wayfaring Stranger" and "Angel Band". I really fell in love with "Invitation"(Hark! I hear the harps eternal). They sing so beautifully and clearly that they deliver such inspirational insights in each song. It's not too different from their medieval/Renaissance albums. They are portraying the same spiritual longings just as they did with chants and motets, only in a different place and time period. Anyone who complains about this CD needs to take time to not just listen, but feel the music. Feel the way that each singer speaks from the heart. Feel the way that each singer expresses the longing fo the writer. They sing these words and tunes so sincerely.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Michael Lima VINE VOICE on September 26, 2004
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
American Angels is yet another outstanding recording in the Anonymous 4 catalog. The record displays all the qualities that have made Anonymous 4 famous: heavenly voices, innovative arrangements, and superb production. These qualities are best heard on a deeply spiritual version of Angel Band.

Beyond the technical characteristics, this recording has two interesting subtexts that become apparent when viewed in the context of Anonymous 4's body of work. First, the recording of American music by a group that has made a career out of recording European music leaves the listener with the impression that these hymns are as important on a musical and historical level as all the other recordings Anonymous 4 have made. Thus, Anonymous 4 have elevated the importance of songs that may have been taken for granted up to now. Second, the members of Anonymous 4 are both metaphorically and musically "coming home" by choosing American music, instead of European music, for their last recording. This subtext adds a poignancy to the songs that otherwise would not have been present.

While it's sad that Anonymous 4 do not plan to record any more, they have left an impressive legacy to enjoy. Their recordings have shed light on previously obscure musical genres, thus reminding everyone of both the timelessness of song and the ability of the voice to convey spirituality. These same reminders are present in American Angels. If this truly is the last recording for this group, then it is a fitting conclusion to their career.
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