Monday, April 23, 2012

Anonymous and Friends

I have been auditioning a recent release of early Renaissance music performed by the Ensemble Obsidienne. The featured composer on this disc is Josquin des Prez, but several of the selections are by anonymous composers. This was the case with the first track, a chanson entitled “Adieu mes amors.” This turned out to be a set of variations, some performed by instruments and others involving instruments and voice. It occurred to me that this performance may well have been a composite. The song was well known enough that a variety of versions ended up being documented, and there is no reason to believe that all of the versions were by the same composer. In other words the label of anonymity did not necessarily imply that this particular track was the coherent work of a single composer. Anonymous may well have had friends interested in the same chanson!

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