Collection: On the Banks of the Seine

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Anonymous,Bodel,d’Amiens,King of Navarre Thibault IV,López
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Music of the Trouvères
PERFORMER: Dufay Collective
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9544

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Since its formation in 1987 the Dufay Collective has specialised in colourful, themed recordings – often with a touch of the nudge-nudge, wink-wink about them (Johnny, Cock Thy Beaver; Miri It Is, etc). So 13th-century Paris, with its bawdy mix of persons of all kinds, is natural ground for this group.

But not everything is treated as slapstick: the songs by Adam de la Halle and some other pieces are touchingly rendered by a delightful trio of male voices in the latest scholarly fashion (without instruments), and this seems right even in the famous ‘On parole’, a motet with street cries woven in: this work is really an academic parody of the popular style. With the ‘minstrel’ dances and song arrangements we are led into a kind of musical toyshop where bagpipes and many other instruments abound.

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The trouvère solo chansons are sung by Vivien Ellis, whose sweet voice captivates in the archly simple ‘Voulez vous’, but sounds empty and strained in the more complex ‘La douçours’. This is a fun disc but with slightly too much decorum for the truly bawdy (or the dramatically aware), and not quite enough for the purists. Anthony Pryer