In the much-beloved miracle ballad, The Cherry Tree Carol, Joseph doubts the divine origin of Mary’s pregnancy; but to his astonishment, and to his shame, Jesus speaks from within Mary’s womb, causing a cherry tree to bend its branches and offer his mother its fruit. This ballad originates in medieval England; we know that it was spoken or sung during the Coventry Plays for the Feast of Corpus Christi, around 1400. The Cherry Tree Carol was passed on from singer to singer in the British Isles for hundreds of years, and eventually established roots in America, as well. The cherry tree story also made its way into medieval British carols of the mid-fifteenth century. On this recording, The Cherry Tree, we sing an American version of The Cherry Tree Carol, some of its medieval carol ancestors, and other medieval British carols and British-rooted American tunes.
Early in the thirteenth century, Franciscan missionaries traveled to the British Isles, preaching a return to a simple, selfless form of Christianity. As in Italy, where Franciscans composed or inspired the composition of numerous laude spirituali (sacred refrain songs in Italian, based on popular models), Franciscans in Britain set in motion a wave of religious poetry and song in English, the language of the common people.
The medieval English carol is a product of this same vernacular-religious song tradition. We now associate the word carol with Christmas, but this was not the rule in the fifteenth century, when carols were written to celebrate other feasts, saints and occasions, or to teach a moral lesson. The origin of the medieval British carol has been the subject of musicological debate in the twentieth century: were these carols composed to accompany liturgical processions, or were they church-sanctioned alternatives to rude and rowdy dance songs with pagan roots? If it was the latter case, it stands to reason that many of these songs would be appropriate to the Christmas season, which was, since ancient and pagan times, a season of riotous festivity and unruly celebration. Fifteenth-century
Total time: 00:58:30
|Original Recording Format|
Robina G. Young
Skywalker Sound, Marin County California
|Recording Type & Bit Rate|
|Release Date||August 15, 2014|
Multichannel or stereo remains a personal option…
Anonymous 4 – The Cherry Tree: Songs Carols Ballads For Christmas
Music that is performed after hundreds of years, coming from a spiritual age, transcends fashion and permeates deep down, our emotional and spiritual roots.
Especially music stripped down to its essence, with such grace and care.
The whole Cherry Tree album is magic and purity; a progression of voices, poliphony, tone, mood, time of origin that create an outworldly harmony, at first, and then touches one’s core.
From carol to carol, in a fractal-like fashion, one feels each tune, each verse and word with a clarity and purity as if being there, in a medieval church, in the middle ages.
All this is possible thanks to history, the singers of Anonymous 4, Harmonia Mundi, Skywalker Sound (which, just like Anonymous 4, sounds outworldly), digital transfer, its availability – in my case through Native DSD Music – your audio equipment, and (also important) your taking the time and peace of mind to listen.
I like surround sound – to me multiple speakers fill the room with music a lot more than two speakers, and I do not play it loud. This may sound simplistic; perhaps it is.
Some people cannot conceive listening to surround music. “How can I listen to music coming from all around me? As if I am in the middle of the orchestra… No way, music comes from up front, that’s where the singers are!”
Or, speaking about digital music: “This sound is too pure for me. When I listen to a vinyl jazz record, I am in that smokey bar, listening through smoke and chatter.”
Multichannel or stereo remains a personal option, of course.
To me being enveloped by music from everywhere is elevating. Just like listening to an orchestra from the front speakers, while the sound reverberating from the church walls comes from the back.
The Cherry Tree album is no exception. The recording is flawless, either stereo or multichannel. I do not use this word lightly, but yes, it’s flawless.
The multichannel version has no Low Frequency Effects channel (bass), but with these heavenly voices, it’s perfect.
Music envelops you from all the active speakers alike.
All in all, a pristine creation. And to be able to get it in DSD format is having an album (with medieval music) for the future.
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