As far as the performances alone on this CD go, I can only quote a reviewer from the American Record Guide: 'This is quite simply the best recording ever of the Trouvère literature.' Both fans of and newcomers to Gothic Voices will be delighted by these interpretations, where 5 singers each take it in turn to perform examples, mostly unaccompanied, of the various Trouvère genres. Particularly noteworthy are the contributions from Rogers Covey-Crump, who is at his most sensuous on this disc, and Margaret Philpot, who ranges from the wistful to the declamatory. Similarly, you will be hard-pressed to find more intelligent and competent renderings of the estampies (MS du Roi), here played by Pavlo Beznosiuk (solo fiddle).
As always with Gothic Voices, the musicological justification for these performances is very strong. Yet whilst every performance decision here could be substantiated with evidence, it has to be said that the overall result is not entirely honest. Whereas the sparsity of documents referring to 'singing and playing' in 'High Style' Troubadour repertory (chansons, planhs, etc) enabled Christopher Page to adopt a rigid 'discontinuity' disclaimer (i.e. is the 'playing' simultaneous with, or subsequent to, the 'singing'...? Voices and Instruments of the Middle Ages: Instrumental Practice and Songs in France 1100-1300, London, 1987, p.19]), the larger frequency of such references to 'singing and playing' in Trouvère repertory forced him to concede that, in all likelihood, Trouvère 'High Style' chansons (grand chants) were sometimes accompanied by vielle/fiddle (p.30ff). So could we not have had just one 'High Style' chanson accompanied as such by Pavlo Beznosiuk...? Similarly, the overwhelming majority of descriptions of 'Lower Style' genres primarily as accompanied songs (by Page's own admission) leaves me wondering why he directed "a cappella" performances of a descort (track 12), a chanson de toile (track 18) and a pastourelle (track 15), especially as the first two of these (tracks 12 and 18) are the only examples of their respective genres on this recording, and the pastourelle (track 15) not only mentions a flute ('frestel') but also singing and playing ('chantoit et notoit').
So in short, this recording must be warmly recommended, but with the proviso that the listener realises this is not the complete picture of Trouvère song. Alongside other equally engaging performances, however, (with Trouvère High Style songs sometimes accompanied by one harp or vielle, e.g. Lo Gai Saber - Camerata Mediterranea / Joel Cohen [Erato 2292-45647-2] or The Unicorn - Anne Azema [Erato 4509-94830-2]), it is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of how this repertory might have sounded.