This is a 2-CD set of works composed by "Anonymous." The Naxos sleeve-notes humorously tell us that Anonymous was "The ultimate no-name composer [who] was, ironically, the most prolific, versatile, and long-lived [that] the world has ever not known." Sadly, this raises a key point about this CD set: Naxos's notes, usually excellent, leave listeners in the dark about who the performers are and upon what instruments they are playing. In unusual CDs like these, surely all but the most casual of listeners will want to know the names of the instruments, which sound highly unusual.
Vice their customary booklet, Naxos includes only a folded sheet of paper, of which half expounds, at great length, on the contributions over the centuries of many composers, both male and female, whose names remained undocumented. Of the remaining space, 1/4 is taken up with a blurry photograph of an unidentified building and Anonymous (the name of the CD set), while 3/4 is taken up with photos of previously issued Naxos CDs.
I therefore chose to do some research on a few of the more unusual songs. "Düdül" (CD 2, track 1), a traditional Turkish melody, was previously issued on 8.554064. "Jálla man" (CD 2, track 3) and "Keh Moshe" (CD 2, track 13) were previously issued on 8.557637. Several tracks were previously issued on 8.553617 ("Sephardic Romances"). Some of the Flemish dances were previously issued on 8.554425 ("At the Sign of the Crumhorn"). All of these CDs have helpful program notes about the music and the period instruments. I feel strongly that Naxos should have made an effort to include more information with this 2-CD set. One title is given incorrectly as "Den, hoboecken dans"; it is written correctly as "Den hoboecken dans" on CD 8.554425. I did not track down the other songs on this 2-CD set, but it would not surprise me to find that all of them were taken from previously issued Naxos CDs.
The CDs contain a remarkably wide range of songs, composed over a wide time-span, that have obviously been gathered from many different countries. I could say something about every track, but then this critique would be 6 pages long. To my ear, the performances and recorded sound are both excellent.
Summary: an enjoyable 2-CD set marred only by lack of informative program notes.
Naxos db 8.578044-45