Mstation Classical Reviews

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Mon, 27 Feb 2006

Medieval French Songs

The Unicorn – Medieval French Songs (Chants médiévaux franćais)
Anne Azéma, various artists
CD, Apex

I am very much a novice when it come to France, the French, and one would assume at this point with French literature. You would not be mistaken! I have never come across this music before, and although my first impression was one of doubt over whether I would like it, I was pleasantly surprised to find this album more than inviting.

One is presented with period instruments, and the earliest French literature of this kind known to date. Anne Azéma has a beautiful sweet voice that has no fear of expressing itself. The poems, (translated in the back for those like myself who are not so good with languages), express the deep desires of love and lust. The female voice can surely be the only true voice for this literature, with links as far back as the sixth century where women were condemned for their “lascivious songs”. This album would not have worked if men had performed it. With Anne, the French becomes a language we can all understand. You can see past the words, and feel the meaning all for yourself.

The album is put together with combinations of sung, spoken, and accompanied verse, with short instrumental interludes balancing the atmosphere perfectly. The quality of the performance is among the best of period recordings. The accompanying booklet is excellent, describing the history in a concise and practical way. Being new to this music, I found it enormously helpful.

Do invest in this beautiful recording, and enjoy at the start, and the end of the day.

(E Walton)

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