ANONYMOUS 4, Libby Gardner Concert Hall, U. campus; Thursday evening, one performance only.

Early music isn't exactly everyone's idea of a good time. But for those who've never experienced it, as the old saying goes, they really don't know what they've been missing.Especially when the music is performed by a first-rate group such as Anonymous 4.

The four singers who make up Anonymous 4 -- Marsha Genensky, Susan Hellauer, Jacqueline Horner and Johanna Maria Rose -- are all experts when it comes to medieval and Renaissance music. They go straight to the source, transcribing most of the works they sing into modern notation themselves and thereby capturing the essence and spirit of early music.

Anonymous 4 returned to Salt Lake City Thursday evening and gave a surprisingly vivid and stunning concert of 14th century music. Titled "The Second Circle: Love Songs of Francesco Landini," the program mixed the music of Landini with spoken text from Dante's "Vita Nuova." And since Landini and Dante's texts deal with the courtly love that was all the rage in Europe in the 1300s, they both complemented each other and set each other in relief.

Landini's songs are simple, beautiful, lyrical and at times quite poignant. There is a lot of variation in these songs as they explore the various aspects of love -- not unlike the passages from Dante that were read aloud. And Anonymous 4 sang these pieces expressively and gave them depth and life.

Of the 16 songs on the program, only half were sung by all four members of Anonymous 4. And since vocal music from the 14th century is mainly written in two or three parts, that meant that one or two lines had to be doubled. As to the remaining pieces, the singers alternated in performing them, and this gave the music an ever-changing timbre. The four performers have distinctive voices, but they blend naturally together to form a unique sound, which fills these songs with character and dimension.

According to Hellauer, the group's researcher, the songs represented on Thursday's program come from Landini's entire creative output, and all are delightful.

One of the most charming pieces on the program was the final song, "Echo la primavera" ("Behold the springtime"). Dealing as it does with spring, it's written in a high tessitura, and you can almost feel the warmth of the spring sun in this effectively bright piece.