Tristan et Iseult, Boston Camerata,
(re-released on April 29, 2008)
Erato 2564 69634-0 | 68'47"
M. Gallaway, The Metropolis Case (2010)
What stands out to my ears now, some twenty years after hearing this recording for the first time, is its austerity. There are lengthy recitations from literary versions of the story: Gottfried von Strassburg (Middle High German, c. 1210) and Thomas de Bretagne (Old French, c. 1170), generally to instrumental music in the background. Other texts are set to medieval melodies, like Marie de France's Lai du Chèvrefeuille, and many other musical pieces related to the Tristan legend (very loosely so, in some cases, like the aubade Rei glorios) are woven together to give the basic outline of the story, rather than being an actual complete "telling" of it. The musical performances are generally pretty, especially the work of the two sopranos Anne Azéma and Ellen Hargis. This was also, tragically, the last recording of pioneering French countertenor Henri Ledroit, who died in 1988 (the cause was AIDS, and its progress devastatingly fast). The instrumental accompaniment often is little more than a few supporting chords from lute (Cohen) or medieval harp (Cheryl Ann Fulton), backed by drones from rebec or vieille, with some evocative flute and recorder lines.