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Anonymous 4 have long been synonymous with searing, pure performances of music from medieval Europe, most notably that from England and English manuscripts. Now, having announced that the 2015–16 season will be their last, they have also released their final studio recording, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the end of the American Civil War through music connected to that conflict. (The disc completes the trilogy of recordings focusing on music from the United States – the earlier two, ‘American Angels’ and ‘Gloryland’ are also well worth seeking out.) Rather than overtly militaristic songs, however, the programme consists of more personal accounts of the war and its effects – there are a number of old favourites here, including ‘Abide with me’ and ‘Shall we gather at the river?’, but also songs which have slipped into obscurity somewhat. It’s all very sentimental, and movingly sung by the group (Molsky adds his baritone to a number of the tracks, but features primarily as an instrumentalist), and the whole disc is suffused with mellowness and a gentle melancholy. This is an understated, yet heartfelt, way to signal the end of 30 years of glorious music-making – exactly the qualities that have distinguished Anonymous 4 since the beginning.

Adrian Horsewood Read the full review on Agora Classica


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