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Posted October 1, 2010
On this first volume of ¿Perceval: The Quest for the Grail¿, La Nef does not perform medieval music per se, but rather, uses period instruments to play traditional and original melodies in the accompaniment of singers telling a story. While probably stunning as a theatrical performance, ¿Perceval¿s¿ strength as an audio recording lies in the wonderful way in which arranger/lutenist Sylvain Bergeron has chosen or constructed melodic themes for each character so that they flow together, and at key points, function as motets--all layered, one upon another. Track #s 8, 17, 22 and 23 are particularly beautiful and compelling examples of this technique. According to the program notes, ¿La Nef is now proposing its own version of the myth of the Grail, a somewhat original `collage¿, which incorporates elements borrowed from Medieval Play, Baroque Opera, and more contemporary styles¿ An important part of the musical material is drawn from the traditional repertory of the British Isles.¿ The language sung is French, adapted from the text of 12th century writer Chretien de Troyes. The story is a coming of age tale, but the insert points out that ¿Perceval is [not] a typical hero of chivalry¿[He] follows his impulses without a thought for the consequences, abandons his mother, then [his love] Blancheflor, gets within inches of the Grail without noticing anything and is presumptuous enough to leave the court of King Arthur because he finds it overrated¿(!) Nevertheless, the music is overflowing with youthful innocence and charm, enhanced by countertenor Daniel Taylor¿s enchanting performance as Perceval. While this concept is not something that would have grabbed my attention when reading about it, the resulting music is remarkably moving. Don¿t miss an opportunity to purchase this recording! La Nef continues the story of Perceval in ¿Perceval: The Quest for the Grail, Volume 2¿.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.