Adam de la Halle

COMPOSERS: Adam de la Halle
LABELS: Naxos
ALBUM TITLE: Adam de la Halle
WORKS: Le jeu de Robin et de Marion
PERFORMER: John Crook, Alexander Hickey, Richard Eteson, Francis Brett, Joanna Forbes, Kathryn Oswald, Rebecca Hickey, Alexander L’Estrange; Mary Remnant (harp, pipe, rebec, shawm, fiddle, percussion); Tonus Peregrinus/Antony Pitts
CATALOGUE NO: 8.557337
This is a story of a shepherdess and her lover whose bliss is briefly interrupted by a randy, passing knight. Composed circa 1286 for

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the (then) French court in Naples,

it has 30 little tunes, but is otherwise mostly dialogue, resembling a musical more than an opera.

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There have been other recordings of this piece in France (Perceval Ensemble, 2002; Zig Zag Territoires, 2004) but they do little with the music and concentrate on dramatic effect. Here, the approach is more complex. Out of your left speaker comes the orginal French text spoken by John Crook and, out of your right, the songs are in French and the play is acted out in English. Owing to excellent recording techniques, this is not as confusing as it suggests. Characters are portrayed simply but with dramatic flair. Kathryn Oswald gives us an almost Julie Andrews-like Marion and Alexander L’Estrange is perfect as silly Robin. Bare melodies are prettily decked out with percussion and strings and we get some extra motets and songs for good measure. It would be hard to present this medieval entertainment in a more winning manner.