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Adam de la HALLE (13th century)
Le Jeu de Robin et de Marion

(see end of review for track listing)
Tonus Peregrinus (Mary Remnant (bells, drum, fiddle, gittern, harp, pipe, tabor, rebec, shawm, symphony); John Crook (voices / narrator); Alexander Hickey (tenor); Richard Eteson (tenor); Francis Brett (bass); Joanna Forbes (soprano); Rebecca Hickey (soprano); Kathryn Oswald (alto); Alexander L’Estrange (counter-tenor, tambourine))/Anthony Pitts (director, percussion, bagpipes)
rec. 22-23 September, 3 October 2003, Sedgwick Park, West Sussex
NAXOS 8.557337 [74:02]



Adam de la Halle was a thirteenth century trouvère from Northern France, a composer and a poet, who travelled widely and moved in courtly circles. He wrote both words and music for his drama Le Jeu de Robin, and, as such, it is one of the earliest extant examples of a secular play set to music.
 
Not much survives of the original play - mostly spoken texts with some unaccompanied melodies. This reconstruction is an attempt to make the recording as authentic as possible through the combination of the existing texts of the play along with plainchant, motets and rondeaux of the period. These components might have formed part of such an entertainment and, in any case, would have been common sounds to de la Halle’s audience. Cleverly, this includes the text spoken in the original French dialect, which is to be heard on the left speaker, while the songs (in French) and English dialogue emerges from your right. This is an interesting method which works extremely well; much fun to be had playing with balances! The whole result is one of spontaneity and improvised freedom, which is very appropriate.
 
The play, about an amorous knight who makes a play for a shepherdess despite her affection for her lover, is very much based in pastoral tradition. It is full of references to bucolic life, including such aspects as peasant party games and food-related jokes. Consequently, the spirit of the whole piece is rather “silly”, but it is none the worse for this, and, as a reconstruction of a mediaeval “musical comedy”, is both entertaining and fascinating from a historical point of view.
 
The performances cannot be criticised – full of brilliant and often amusing characterisations, with top-quality and expressive singing from all, as I have come to expect from Tonus Peregrinus.
 
Em Marshall

 

Track Listing
PORTARE

Motet: Robins m'aime [1:03]
after Li Jus Du PELERIN
Pilgrim's Prologue [2:46]
Li Gieus de Robin et de Marion:
Robins m'aime [3:02]
Je me repairoie [0:39]
He Robin [0:22]
...when along comes a Knight on the lookout... [4:33]
Vous perdes vo paine [0:22]
...but Marion means no when she says so... [0:30]
Bergeronnete sui [0:22]
...and the Knight leaves empty-handed [0:12]
Trairi deluriau [2:07]
Rondeau II: Li dous regars [1:04]
Rondeau XV: Tant con je vivrai [1:40]
He Robechon leure leure va [1:09]
...and tastes some of her fare... [3:13]
Vous Torres bien dire [0:13]
...and tests her fidelity... [0:39]
Bergeronnete douche baisselete [1:48]
...and she tests his dancing prowess... [0:17]
Robin par l’ame [1:11]
...and Robin goes for reinforcements... [1:29]
… his manly cousins [0:54]
Motet II: De ma dame [3:13]
Robin rounds up guests for the party [1:54]
PORTARE
Motet: Robins m'aime [1:02]
The Knight returns to find his bird...  [2:09]
J'oi Robin flagoler [0:21]
...beats up Robin and kidnaps Marion... [2:35]
He resveille toi Robin [0:37]
...but Robin is aroused to the point of valour [1:03]
Rondeau III: Hareu     [0:41]
Marion sees off the Knight, her friends roll up... [3:54]
Aveuc tele compaignie [1:01]
...and it's time for all kinds of party games [10:21]
Robin rescues a sheep, declares his love… [4:54]
J'ai encore un tel paste [0:29]
...and promises some delicacies of his own...  [0:07]
Que jou ai un tel capon [0:27]
...when he returns [0:32]
Motet I: A Dieu [2:00]
Robin brings a pair of horns to the party... [2:40]
Audigier [0:07]
...gets over his jealousy and gets everyone on their feet [1:48]
Venes apres moi [1:31]
PORTARE Motet: Robins m'aime [1:26]

 


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