Monday, March 12, 2012


YEAR: 1996

LABEL: Harmonia Mundi

TRACK LISTING: Invitatory: Venite omnes cristicole, Processional: Salve festa dies, Benedicamus trope: Vox nostra resonet, Invitatory: Regem Regum Dominum, Benedicamus trope: Nostra phalanx plaudat leta, Antiphon: Ad sepulcrum beati Iacobi, Benedicamus trope: Ad superni regis decus, Brief responsory: Iacobe servorum, Benedicamus Domino, Conductus: In hac die laudes, Kyrie trope: Cunctipotens genitor, Hymn: Psallat chorus celestium, Prose: Alleluia - Gratulemur et letemur, Offertory: Ascendens Ihesus in montem, Agnus dei trope: Qui pius ac mitis, Benedicamus trope: Gratulantes celebremus festum, Conductus: Iacobe sancte tuum, Responsory: O adiutor omnium seculorum, Prosa: Portum in ultimo, Benedicamus trope: Congaudeant catholici, Prosa: Clemens servulorum

IMPRESSIONS: Since I've been obsessing lately about el Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James pilgrimage), I thought it would be rather appropriate to select this Anonymous 4 album which features music taken from the Codex Calixtinus: the original "tour guide" for the pilgrimage trail. When I say "obsessed", I mean that I've gone so far as to consult the American website to apply for the "credentials" or "pilgrim's passport" one needs before embarking on the camino. I've looked . . . I haven't signed up. But that doesn't mean I don't want to. Having said that, I think this album would be one of the most appropriate to have on one's ipod earbuds during the walk from France to Spain. I have always been a fan of medieval music, chants and polyphony, and have gotten several of Anonymous 4's albums over the years. But this is the one I'm listening to a lot at the moment after seeing Emilio Estevez's startlingly good film "THE WAY" as well as Luis Bunuel's "THE MILKY WAY" (which also takes place on the camino) and then fairly heavily researching the pilgrimage and buying two books on the subject. Hey, when I go overboard, I GO OVERBOARD!

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: I view this album as more of a piece so I guess all of 'em.

FACT SHEET: MIRACLES OF SANT'IAGO is Anonymous 4's sixth album. The Codex Calixtinus (aka "JACOBUS" or "LIBER SANCTI JACOBI") consists of five books containing sermons on St. James, chants and lessons for his feasts, accounts of the legends and miracles attributed to St. James, an epic featuring Charlemagne in Spain, a "travel guide" to the pilgrimage routes through France and Spain and a circa 12th century supplement of polyphonic music. Since the 12th century, this Codex has resided at the destination of the pilgrimage: the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. About 90 percent of the music is plainchant for St. James feast days (July 25 & December 30) while only about 10 percent of the music is polyphonic; however it is the later which commands most attention and is featured in this album because it represents some of the first known examples of polyphony we have in written form. The remains of St. James (the first apostle and first to be martyred) are entombed at the Cathedral and became one of the three major pilgrimage destinations (Jerusalem and Rome being the other two) since the medieval period and el Camino de Santiago still attracts scores of pilgrims every year. New York City's female a cappella quartet Anonymous 4 consists of Marsha Genesky, Susan Hellauer, Jacqueline Horner and Ruth Cunningham; they specialize in recording medieval music but also have performed modern composers' work including John Taverner. The name "Anonymous 4" is a pun on the anonymous 13th century English music theorist known only as "Anonymous IV" who is the principal source of two famous composers of the Notre Dame school: Perotin and Leonin.

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