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Machaut: Remede De Fortune

Machaut: Remede De Fortune

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A New Yorker Notable Recording of 2022!

A feast of poetry, song, and visual art animated by a surprisingly Zen-like philosophy, Guillaume de Machaut’s Remede de Fortune tells the tale of a woebegone lover who is counseled by Lady Hope on how to be happy and persevere in the face of the ups and downs dished out by Fortune and her Wheel.

Machaut was at once the greatest poet and composer of 14th-century Europe, and the Remede is a narrative poem or dit, around 4000 lines long, with interpolated lyrics set to music. This live recording of a concert production of the Remede—a collaboration between two outstanding American ensembles, Blue Heron and Les Délices—includes all seven musical items from the Remede as well as a selection of other motets, songs, and dances, which take the place of the narration, express the emotions and thoughts of the Lover, and convey Hope’s teachings in lyric form.

Four singers are joined by a delightful ensemble of medieval instruments (recorder, douçaine, fiddle, lute, harp, hurdy-gurdy, and percussion) in performances which are both spirited and deeply informed by the study of historical performance practices. The album booklet contains complete texts and translations, an interspersed synopsis of the story, and numerous full-color reproductions of the pictures that grace the lavishly illustrated first manuscript copy of the Remede, prepared c. 1350 under Machaut’s supervision.


What is “Remede de Fortune?” Nothing less than a multi-media work of art – created in 1350. Guillaume de Machaut was one of the greatest poets of his time. And one of the greatest composers. But Remede is more than just a combination of Machaut’s words and music. Machaut personally supervised the creation of an illuminated book.

The early music vocal group Blue Heron staged a live performance of “Remede” with Les Délices. Their performance includes all the music contained in the story. The narration was replaced with motets, songs, and dances of the period. It’s a great performance and one that can be enjoyed on several levels. I first listened to the recording cold. The recording works as a pure listening experience. There’s enough variety between the combination of instruments and voices to hold interest.

Blue Heron is still one of the finest vocal ensembles around, and they didn’t disappoint. The music was sung with pure, clear tones of incredible expressive beauty. Les Délices provided subtle accompaniment, supporting the vocalists without detracting from them. The release comes with the complete text for Remede (and thankfully English translation). It also includes several full-color reproductions of the artwork. So one could, as in Machaut’s time, follow along with the text and art as the music played.

It was an extraordinary work of art, and it’s an extraordinary realization. Highly recommended.

-- WTJU 91.1 FM

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Product Description:

  • Release Date: November 04, 2022

  • UPC: 645312499663

  • Catalog Number: BHCD1012

  • Label: Blue Heron

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Period: Medieval

  • Composer: Guillaume de Machaut, Jehan de Lescurel

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Blue Heron, Les Delices

  • Performer: Debra Nagy, Scott Metcalfe