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ADAM DE LA HALLE: Le Jeu de Robin et de Marion (Antony Pitts/ Tonus Peregrinus) (Naxos: 8.557337)



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Adam de la Halle (13th century): LeJeu de Robin et de Marion

(alternativetitles: Li Gieus de Robin et de Marion, Li Jeus du Berger et de laBergiere, Mariage de Robin et de Marote)TONUS PEREGRINUS


Mary Remnant, bells,drum, fiddle, gittern / citole, harp, pipe and tabor, rebec, shawm, symphony,copy of Whitecastle pipe


Adam li Bochus / Pilgrim / Narrator - John Crook, voices


Aubert li Chevaliers / Sir Albert - Alexander Hickey, tenor


Baudons / Baldwin - Richard Eteson, tenor, coconuts


Gautiers li Testus / Walter the Mule - Francis Brett, bass


Huars / Howard - Joanna Forbes, soprano


Marion - Kathryn Oswald, alto


Peronnelle - Rebecca Hickey, soprano


Robin - Alexander L'Estrange, countertenor, tambourine


Rogaus / Roger - Antony Pitts, bagpipe drone, copy of Billingsgatetrumpet, cowhorns, portative organ, tambourine, directorMusic by Adam de la Halle, edited and arranged by AntonyPitts


(except for Motet II, edited by Rebecca A. Baltzer with additional alterationsby TONUS PEREGRINUS)


English versions of Li Jus du Pelerin and Li Gieus de Robin et deMarion by Rosemary Pitts and Antony Pitts, directed by Joanna Forbes andAntony PittsThe 13th-century trouv?¿re Adam de la Halle was also known asAdam d'Arras and Adam le Bossu, thus giving us both the place of his birth in Northern France and the striking nickname/surname "the Hunchback", although Adamhimself claimed that it was a name not a description. Adam was both composerand poet, a blending of metiers most famously seen in his compatriot ofthe following century, Guillaume de Machaut. As well as numerous chansons, jeux-partis, motets([Track 23], [40]) and rondeaux

([12], [23], [31]), Adam wrote a small number of plays of whichLe Jeu de Robin et de Marion is perhaps the earliest survivingcombination of music and secular drama: the first opera, no less, coming acentury or so after Hildegard of Bingen's sacred music-drama Ordo virtutum.

Adam de la Halle moved in courtly circles, including the company of Robert II,Count of Artois (his traditional peasant hero Robin, diminutive both in nameand in courage, may have been taken as a droll reference to his patron); andlike the Pilgrim of our Prologue Adam travelled long and far from his native Arras.



Le Jeu de Robin et de Marion
was written in the later part of the13th century and the various titles in the manuscript sources (Li Gieus deRobin et de Marion, Li Jeus du Berger et de la Bergiere, Mariagede Robin et de Marote) tell us something more of thesubject matter, shepherds and love, and that the work survived in different dialectsof mediaeval French. Robin et Marion itself is a slightly forcedmarriage of two different but related pastoral traditions, the first of whichpresents a potentially amorous encounter between a knight and a shepherdess,while the second recounts in detail the antics and horseplay of peasants andshepherds. So the first half of Robin et Marion ([3] - [32]) is full ofdramatic action and many solo songs for the main protagonists, while the secondhalf ([33] - [44]) is a riotous romp through various party games and food-relatedjokes. Whether a lord and lady being read to by the trouv?¿re himself, or anoble company having fun dressing up and pretending to be peasants, Adam'saudience would have been familiar with both types of play and would haveappreciated the local and personal references with which he embellished theirstock comic situations, including, perhaps, the political tension surroundingthe French Angevin court at Naples where it is thought Robin et Marion was first performed in the late 1280s. They would probably also have beenfamiliar with the tune of Robins m'aime, Marion's first song ([3]), andset by someone, if not by Adam himself, in a polyphonic version ([1], [25], [45]).

The customary love-story, outlined in the track-listing, tells itself, but inAdam's version it is the shepherdess Marion who comes across as the strongestcharacter, able both to fend off the Knight's unwelcome advances and to twisther fiance Robin round her ring finger.

Much has changed in the last three-quarters of a millennium,but perhaps the most readily-felt areas of development, even for thearistocratic audience cultivated by Adam de la Halle, are in home improvementand home entertainment: we now take central heating and television for granted,whether or not we submit to their comforts. Performing Robin et Marion fora multi-cultural audience listening to a compact disc in the privacy of a caror living-room presents a number of challenges that were not present for thelate 13th-century trouv?¿re or troubadour. The original play as it survives ismostly (spoken) text with an uneven spread of simple, unaccompanied melodies.

The text itself is recognizable as a cousin of modern French, but hard even fora native French speaker to follow in its entirety. The music is memorable butlimited in range and without any written-down counterpoint or harmony. Our approachto the music has been to glean instrumental references from the story, and toaccompany the melodies with as "live" and improvised a feel aspossible. Our approach to the text has been from two angles: that of the single,professional narrator (initially probably Adam himself) employed to wile awaylong dark evenings huddled close to the fire; and that of a group of educated friendsand members of the patron's household enjoying themselves immensely in thesending up of country folk, perhaps with the lord himself as the Knight or asRobin. For a modern audience used to assimilating information simultaneouslyfrom many different sources, this multilayered approach seems both legitimateand appropriate, but it is also possible to adjust dramatically the left-right balanceof the stereo mix in order to listen to this recording in different ways: the "authentic"voice of the Narrator tells the story in the original French dialect to theleft of the mix (stage-right), while the singers rattle off a modern-day Englishinterpretation to the right of the mix (stage-left); in the middle and acrossthe stereo mix are the songs, each tracked separately for convenience. TheNarrator is heard close to, while the individual characters in their21st-century English outfits inhabit a modern aristocratic hall with its woodenpanelling and distant hounds.

As regards the pronunciation our Narrator, John Crook explains:"We will never know exactly what Adam le Bossu's French sounded like,particularly as the oldest manuscripts of the play are at least two stages fromhis original. The earliest are probably late thirteenth-century, from Picardy, and are thus close to Adam both in time and place; they contain severalcharacteristics of northern French pronunciation (such as 'pour coi chestecanchon cantes' - modern 'pourquoicette chanson [tu] chantes'). By the date of Robin et Marion spelling was beginningto become formalised and it is no longer safe to assume that all consonantswere pronounced; furthermore, the pronunciation of diphthongs remains a matterof scholarly debate. In speaking the text I have attempted above all to be consistent;I hope at least that my rendering would have been comprehensible to an audienceof Adam's day."The Play of the Pilgrim (Li Jus du Pelerin) on which wehave based our introductory tableau ([2]) refers specifically to Adam, and maybe one of his literary self-references, a h
Facts
Item number 8557337
Barcode 747313233724
Release date 03/04/2006
Category Vocal
Label Naxos Classics | Naxos Records
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Performers
Composers Adam de la Halle
Conductors Antony Pitts
Orchestras Tonus Peregrinus
Disc: 1
Mout me fu grief li departir / Robin m'aime / Port
1 Mout me fu grief li departir / Robin m'aime / Port
Pilgrim’s Prologue (after Li jus du Pelerin)
2 Pilgrim’s Prologue (after Li jus du Pelerin)
Le jeu de Robin et de Marion (The Play of Robin an
3 Scene I: Marion is happily minding her own busines
4 Scene I: Je me repairoie (Knight)
5 Scene I: He Robin (Marion)
6 Scene I: ...when along comes a Knight on the looko
7 Scene I: Vous perdes vo paine (Marion)
8 Scene I: ...but Marion means no when she says so..
9 Scene I: Bergeronnete sui (Marion)
10 Scene I: ...and the Knight leaves empty-handed.
11 Scene I: Trairi deluriau (Marion, Knight)
12 Scene I: Rondeau II: Li dous regars
13 Scene I: Rondeau XV: Tant con je vivrai
14 Scene II: He Robechon leure leure va (Marion, Robi
15 Scene II: ...and tastes some of her fare...
16 Scene II: Vous l’orres bien dire (Robin)
17 Scene II: ...and tests her fidelity...
18 Scene II: Bergeronnete douche baisselete (Robin, M
19 Scene II: ...and she tests his dancing prowess...
20 Scene II: Robin par l’ame (Marion, Robin)
21 Scene II: ...and Robin goes for reinforcements...
22 Scene II: ...his manly cousins.
23 Motet II: De ma dame / Dieus / Omnes
24 Scene III: Robin rounds up guests for the party.
25 Motet: Mout me fu grief li departir / Robin m'aime
26 Scene IV: The Knight returns to find his bird...
27 Scene IV: J’oi Robin flagoler (Marion)
28 Scene IV: ...beats up Robin and kidnaps Marion...
29 Scene IV: He resveille toi Robin (Gautiers li Test
30 Scene IV: ...but Robin is aroused to the point of
31 Scene IV: Rondeau III: Hareu
32 Scene V: Marion sees off the Knight, her friends r
33 Scene V: Aveuc tele compaignie (tous)
34 Scene V: ...and it’s time for all kinds of party g
35 Scene VI: Robin rescues a sheep, declares his love
36 Scene VI: J’ai encore un tel paste (Robin)
37 Scene VI: ...and promises some delicacies of his o
38 Scene VI: Que jou ai un tel capon (Robin)
39 Scene VI: ...when he returns.
40 Scene VI: A Dieu (Adam / Super)
41 Scene VII: Robin brings a pair of horns to the par
42 Scene VII: Audigier (Gautiers li Testus)
43 Scene VII: ...gets over his jealousy and gets ever
44 Scene VII: Venes apres moi (Robin et al)
45 Motet: Mout me fu grief li departir / Robin m'aime
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