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Comment: Comes Complete in original Cardboard Shell, containing a booklet and Complete Jewel Case, no cracks and very minimal wear to outer cardboard!
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Love's Illusion: Music from the Montpellier Codex 13th Century Import

4.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, August 23, 1994
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How's this for a concept: "True love may exist only outside of marriage, and a man must subject himself totally to the will of his beloved, whether or not her requests seem rational." If you think these ideas strange, be glad you weren't looking for love in France in the Middle Ages. These precepts course through thousands of song lyrics and love poetry during the 12th and 13th centuries and some of them appear on this exceptional recording by Anonymous 4. Specifically, these four women perform 13th century French motets found in an important manuscript known as the Montpellier Codex. These polyphonic works span the entire century and thus express a variety of styles. Sometimes the use of texts is striking, as when a love song, a diatribe against hypocrisy, and a rousing drinking song are sung simultaneously. Not bad, if you can get away with it. Anonymous 4 can-and does. --David Vernier
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Product Details

  • Performer: Ruth Cunningham, Susan Hellauer, Johanna Rose
  • Audio CD (August 23, 1994)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Harmonia Mundi
  • ASIN: B0000007E5
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #167,805 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
`Love's Illusion' is the third album done by the medieval vocal quartet, `Anonymous 4' and the first recording for them of secular motets, although it is important to note that to my relatively uneducated ear, I find it hard to discern the difference between these French love songs and their renditions of medieval church music.

This is not to say I have a totally tin ear but rather to indicate that there is as strong or stronger connection between these secular songs and the liturgical music of the day as there is between Aretha Franklin's soul singing and Southern Baptist church songs. One would be foolish to think that church music influenced secular music for the first time in 1956.

The text for these songs is based on the Montpellier Codex from the 13th century and, as I said, are all in what I believe is an early version of French. The accompanying booklet gives all the French lyrics, plus translations of these lyrics into English and German (since the record company, harmonia mundi, is, I believe, headquartered in Germany and the recording is manufactured in Germany.

While this is the first album I have reviewed by this group (named after an anonymous 13th century English writer on music who lived and worked in Paris and wrote about the music done) I have been listening to their recordings for several years now and I decided to start with this one and leave some of the liturgical works for later, closer to the Christmas season.

On a purely visceral level, I like this recording very much. On an intellectual level, I believe this is as good or better than any other medieval pieces, and most other Renaissance vocal pieces I have heard, except for some works with larger choruses such as Guillaume Du Fay's Mass for St.
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This is a wonderful collection of chansons, or songs, from medieval France. It is different from many Anonymous 4 collections in that this is a piece of secular songs, primarily dealing with courtly love; the songs are particularly influenced by the Arthurian romances, very much in vogue at that time. This is a collection of motets - a musical style that came out of polyphony and is an important bridge between chant and modern song styling.

The Montpellier Codex has over 300 different motets (not including duplications), including many double motets, where the tenor piece is based on a plainchant, and different voices have their own texts. These 'fin amours' songs were most likely performed mostly in private entertainment settings, and song have argued that certain parts should be done by instruments rather than voices. Of course, the Anonymous 4 is an a capella group, so that idea does not come into practice here.

This is a playful and fun recording, full of lovely songs that reach the heart in strong ways.

-- Liner Notes --

This text accompaniment to this disc is very full, so much so that the booklet is not contained within the jewel case, but rather within a slipcover in which both the CD/jewel case and the booklet reside. The liner notes include a description of the work, a brief piece about the quartet, and the lyrics of the songs both in original language and in translation - all repeated in English, German, and French sections (however, the French lyrics are in the older French language; a modern translation would be helpful). The cover art is a section of the lovely Tapestry, Lady and the Unicorn, Atelier of the Loire Valley, 'mille fleurs', fifteen century in the Museum of Cluny, France.
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Format: Audio CD
This one belongs on your short "desert island" list. It is extremely well recorded (you could mistake it for an LP, it is so liquid and sweet), and just hauntingly beautiful.
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Listening to the ensemble Anonymous 4 one can't help but notice their exquisite vocal form. In my opinion this is the finest recording of thirteenth-century polyphony available.
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This is an excellent recording of some of the most beautiful music from the 13th Century. The vocal quartet "Anonymous 4" does a superb job, especially considering the entire CD is sung in Old French. This may well be the most peaceful and reaxing CD you will ever own.
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