an Erato CD, # 98482
Formerly issued as: Erato 75528
Recorded September 1987

 on CD:


Henri Ledroit (countertenor)
Anne Azéma (soprano)
Ellen Hargis (soprano)
Richard Morrison (baritone)
William Hite (tenor)
Joel Cohen (lute, percussion)
Cheryl Ann Fulton (harp)
David Douglass (rebec, vielle)
Carol Lewis (rebec, vielle)
Jesse Lepkoff (flute, recorder)
Steven Lundahl (slide trumpet, recorder)
Dan Stillman (shawm)
Andrea von Ramm (narrator)

Camerata's most honored production....

"Tristan and Iseult," Camerata's most honored production of recent seasons, was originally conceived as a recording project. At the request of Erato records, intense literary and musical research took place during winter and spring 1987. The recording sessions were held in September, 1987 at the Church of the Covenant, Boston.

The world première performance, with staging by Pierre-Jean San Bartolomé, took place at New York's Merkin Hall in February, 1988, followed by Boston-area performances a few days later. These were the final public appearances of the gifted French countertenor, the late Henri Ledroit, the production's original Tristan.

In June, 1988, the Camerata gave two performances of "Tristan" at the Singapore Arts Festival. Further performances followed in June and July in Europe: Alsace (for the millenary of the city of Strasbourg), Lisbon, and Vaison-la-Romaine.

The recording was released in January 1989, and won the French Grand Prix du Disque just a few weeks after its appearance. International critical response to the recording has been extensive and enthusiastic (see below).

In America, "Tristan" has toured in California, Chicago, Washington D.C., and the South. In a new staging by Patrick Swanson, "Tristan" played to a week of sold-out houses during the 1990 Spoleto (USA) festival.

Camerata's début appearances at the prestigious Utrecht (Holland) Early Music Festival took place in September, 1990 with two performances of the "Tristan" program. A second invitation to the Utrecht festival came in 1991.

A grant from the Nakamichi Foundation brought "Tristan" to audiences in Quebec and England (York Festival). The York festival production was broadcast in full by the BBC. Camerata's debut 1995 performances in Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto, Maebashi) were made with the "Tristan" program. . Camerata's " Tristan" at the 1996 Bergen (Norway) festival marked its first performances ever in Scandinavia.

A second Erato edition of the original recording (musical content unchanged, but packaging redesigned) appeared in 1995. This is the CD currently available to record buyers.

Future performances of "Tristan" are planned for Germany in 1998 (Dresden, Regensburg).

  1. Anon: Prologue
  2. Anon: Le lai du chevrefeuille
  3. Anon: Lai mortel
  4. Jean Bodel (d.1210): Les un pin verdoyant
  5. Anon: Gottes namen varen wir
  6. Anon: La u jou fui dedans la mer
  7. Contessa de Dia (fl.c.1200): Estat ai en grei cossirer
  8. Gottfried: Dô wir zwô vuoren
  9. Anon (Carmina Burana): Bache bene veritas
  10. Guiraut de Borneilh (d.c.1215): Reis Glorios
  11. Anon: Interlude
  12. Conon de Béthune (c.1150-1220): Se rage et derverie
  13. Guiraut Riquier (c.1230-c.1300): Jesu Crist
  14. Anon: Pange melos lacrimosum
    Anon: D'une fausse ypocrisie / Lux magna
    Anon: Alleluia, salva nos, Christe salvator
    Anon: Alle, psallite cum luya
  15. Anon: Gaite de la Tor
  16. Conon de Béthune: Se rage et derverie
  17. Anon: Lonc tans a que
  18. Thomas de Bretagne: Ysolt, bele amie
  19. Anon: A vous, Tristran, amis verai
  20. Marie de France: Le lai du Chèvrefeuille
  21. Thomas de Bretagne: Senz aïe m'estut murir
  22. Anon: Ja fis canchonnetes et lais
  23. Anon: Li solaus luist
  24. Thomas de Bretagne: Epilogue

Academie Charles Cros, Paris

  • A masterpiece.
    Audiophile (Paris)
  • A model of its kind.
    Le Meridional (Marseilles)
  • I find this recording indescribably beautiful.
    Alte Musik Aktuell (Germany)
  • Eloquently recited...fearlessly and brightly sung...admirable.
    The New Yorker, May 29 1989
  • An intensity of emotion that, in a different way, matches anything in the Wagnerian tradition.
    BBC Record Review
  • Nothing sounds false, nothing is overdone...the late Henri Ledroit is a touching Tristan and Anne Azema a luminous Iseult. A breath of fresh air.
    Lyon Figaro (Lyon)
  • A superb recording.
    Panorama (Paris)
  • Lively, captivating, and very moving...a precious recording.
    Courrier français (Paris)
  • Joel Cohen is a magician of medieval music...all the pieces are pearls that form a necklace of enchantment...contributing are the superbly pure voices of Henri Ledroit, Anne Azema, and Ellen Hargis...Here is the potion -- go ahead and drink it to excess...
    Present (Paris)
  • Joel Cohen's vision moves us by its straightforwardness, its total simplicity, its direct feeling...Incomparable music, performed with sheer musicality, passion, and profound tenderness. Le Bien Public
  • The death of Tristan, sung by Ledroit with profond interiority, will endure as a miraculous moment of emotion...
    Lu (Paris)
  • A masterpiece!
    Dernières Nouvelles (Strasbourg)
  • Wonderful, sensitive performances.
    De Volkskrant (Amsterdam)
  • One can only rejoice on hearing a true success, the fruit of discipline and careful research, but also -- and perhaps above all -- of a faithful commitment to preserving our musical roots in the full integrity of their structures... We are unquestionably in the presence of authoritative specialists of this music from the beginning of time. But to what avail specialisation when it is not transfigured, as is the case here, by the grace of communication. In other words, the power to transmit the music simply and naturally so that, instead of falling into boring archaism, it seems more modern than ever!
    La Montagne (Clermont)
  • New life from old sources...a remarkable achievement.
    Neue Zuricher Zeitung (Zurich)
  • Le Choc du Monde de la Musique (highest, exceptional category) Certain passages recorded here are absolutely sublime. This voyage into the interior of our memory is endlessly fascinating, both for what it reveals and what it hides. Who could doubt, on hearing so much beauty, the religious essence of Man?
    Le Monde de la Musique (Paris)
  • "A legend of the Middle Ages in poetry and music." Thus Joel Cohen has given us the key to his work: to recreate the narrative tradition of the Celtic countries, to tell us this most famous, most profound myth of Western Europe in the style of the jongleurs, mixing song with speech, in a freely expressive mode close to improvisation... The recording captivates and seduces by its poetic fantasy...To Joel Cohen, of course, is to the praise for the musical collage, whose intention is to recreate, insofar as possible, the conditions under which German and French people of the time might have heard the original story. Blending with felicity intuition and scholarship (and a typically American sense of humor), the music director has rewritten dialogues and texts to make a living link with the songs; these are skillfully retouched for the modern public, but without ever betraying the originals...The instrumental accompaniments...successfully attempt to create the mood of a waking dream...and the performers are astonishing: narrator Andrea von Ramm, whose "golden age" delivery is unbelievably good; the passionate Iseult of Anne Azema; and of course the Tristan -- by turns noble, nostalgic, and tragic -- of Henri Ledroit, the prematurely departed prince of countertenors, to whom this moving recreation, more poetry than musicology, is dedicated.
    Diapason (Paris)
  • Thanks to his tenacious scholarly research, Joel Cohen has succeeded in bringing to light these creations of medieval music...a recording that brings us face to face with the incomparable force of the original legend...The interpretation, directed by Joel Cohen himself, is extraordinarily, unusually perfect.
    Cahier du Disque (Paris)
  • This poetic and musical reconstitution is to be welcomed with joy..a discovery that makes us appreciate all the transparency and purity of the legend.
    Opera International (Paris)
  • 10 de Repertoire (highest, exceptional category) ; Record of the month. Once again, the exceptional quality of the Boston Camerata is evident in this repertoire...The instruments...sound forth with fullness, brilliance, and flair. Their melodic approach is subtle and precise. Remarkably intelligent nuances, never mannered, lend a delightful savor to the music, bathed with a feeling of medieval mysticism. Certain instrumental passages, some of them heart-rending (flute solos that evoke Japanese music) awaken a multitude of poetic images of the sort found in medieval illuminations. The singers are admirable; each note sounds with passion and taste, each phrase is fully realised...Ledroit suggests the impenetrable mystery of the Tristan legend, Anne Azema recreates with fresh energy the adored Lady of the troubadors...Everything is bathed in light, seductive, full of life...a feast! and the perfect harmony among singers and instrumentalists allows us to appreciate to the fullest this strange, magical medieval universe. In short, everything has come together to make this disc, magnificently recorded (the only defect is a small amount of tape hiss) a cornerstone of any medieval record collection.
    Repertoire du Compact (Paris)
  • A delight from beginning to end, music of an astounding modernity, and an interpretation that cannot be bettered.
    La Marseillaise (Marseilles)
  • Admirable! Since the great recordings of Clemencic and, more recently, of Sequentia, such a beautiful immersion into the poetic mysteries of the Middle Ages has not been heard. These original fragments of the Tristan legend bring intense happiness...the vocal passages are so beautiful (and the late Henri Ledroit sings with such purety) that this recording is to be recommended without reservation to all those who are enamoured of the Tristan story and the courtly Middle Ages.
    Centre Presse
  • Ineffable beauty, unearthly music, an incredible adventure...
    Vendredi (Paris)
  • Superb and very moving...
    Le Progres (Lyon)
  • Tender poetry in the company of the famous Boston Camerata...
    Le Point (Paris)
  • Record of the month...
  • The tragic destiny of the two lovers, later glorified by Wagner, is even more moving as we return to the very sources of the myth of eternal, redeeming love...with Joel Cohen's restitution, we are submerged in the refinement of courtly love: instrumentalists -- outstanding -- and singers (including the late Henri Ledroit, to whom the recording is dedicated) perform with touching devotion, and the texts read by our old acquaintance Andrea von Ramm bring us in their forgotten tongues a seductive exoticism...This reconstitution of a medieval work is a happy surprise.
    Compact (Paris)
  • We rediscover the radiant beauty of the original sources...spellbinding, there is no other word.
    France Culture