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Ave Maria / Aarburg, Lang, Clement, Zurcher Sangerknaben


Release Date: 11/08/2005 
Label:  Tudor Records   Catalog #: 7029   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Charles GounodAnton BrucknerCésar FranckGiuseppe Verdi,   ... 
Performer:  Frieder LangPraxedis RüttiAlain ClémentDaniel Winiger,   ... 
Conductor:  Alphons Von Aarburg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich Boys' Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 53 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A quiet, contemplative collection of Marian pieces, well sung and atmospheric.

We learn from the booklet accompanying this disc that the Zurich Boys’ Choir was founded in 1960 by its present conductor, Alphons von Aarburg. It is not attached to any church or school, but the boys meet to rehearse several times each week as well as participating in a “singing camp” during the school holidays. The disc was recorded some fifteen years ago, but the choir is still going strong, and indeed celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year, still with the same conductor.

A glance at the programme will confirm that this is a collection of contemplative music. There is a certain sameness of atmosphere as the programme
Read more progresses, and the attentive listener will probably wish for a bit more variety. I hesitate to recommend it as background listening, so let me say instead that the mood it creates is more suited to quiet reflection than to undivided attention.

The programme is an interesting and inventive mix of well known and lesser known pieces. It opens with one of the best known of all, the famous Bach and Gounod joint effort. The notes seem to be suggesting that Gounod’s original adaptation of Bach’s Prelude was scored for harp, organ and solo violin, and though this was news to me there seems little reason to doubt it. The present performance adds a solo cello and two vocal parts, and may be a later version by Gounod himself, or indeed a hybrid concoction by the present performers. Either way, the opening notes from the harp come as a surprise, as do the two string soloists when they get in on the act. The soloist, Daniel Perrer, is excellent, and the choir sings perfectly well, but the scoring adds extra sweetener to an already sugary exercise. The cello and harp put in another appearance in Franck’s Panis angelicus, along with the organ, and whilst this may be a bona fide composer’s version - the choir in several parts in the canonic second verse - the effect is romantic and indulgent in a piece which can be very affecting when given simply.

Panis angelicus features some very pleasing solo tenor singing from Frieder Lang, and indeed his presence is one of the strong points of this collection. He is ably supported by the children in Franck’s rather lovely Ave Maria, and he turns in a most sensitive performance of an Ave Maria by Tosti. Another solo Ave Maria, by Arcadelt this time, is certainly beautifully sung, though the authentic performance purists might quibble at one or two stylistic points. I think they might not be totally satisfied with Schütz from Zurich either, at least not in 1995, rhythmically stolid and altogether too smooth for comfort.

The programme features a masterpiece or two, not least the two sublime Bruckner motets. Ave Maria is given a good performance, as is Virgo Jesse, though to my ears the boys do not supply anything like the passion in the soprano line that both pieces require. Most adult choirs find it easier to provide this, and a group such as the Westminster Cathedral Choir manage to find both passion and restraint, a heady mixture. There are one or two slightly uncertain attacks in the upper register here too, and, for this listener, some unpleasant staccato and accented final syllables on the word “hallelujah”. In the Verdi piece, and judged by the standards of the finest children’s choirs, intonation is not always spot-on.

Reger’s lullaby, given in a two-part version unfamiliar to me, and again accompanied by the harp, is a particular pleasure. The Mozart, at a reasonably flowing tempo, goes as far as most performances in avoiding the morose atmosphere which can so easily invade this glorious piece. The harp appears again, along with the organ, in Schubert’s Ave Maria. The young Daniel Perrer again sings beautifully, but this really doesn’t sound much like Schubert. Then, that’s not the point of the disc, which will bring much pleasure to those who enjoy this kind of programme.

-- William Hedley, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1. Ave Maria by Charles Gounod
Performer:  Frieder Lang (Tenor), Praxedis Rütti (Harp), Alain Clément (Bass),
Daniel Winiger (Organ), Andrej Lütschg (Violin), Daniel Perret (Boy Soprano)
Conductor:  Alphons Von Aarburg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich Boys' Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; France 
Language: Latin 
2. Ave Maria by Anton Bruckner
Conductor:  Alphons Von Aarburg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich Boys' Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: Austria 
Language: Latin 
3. Virga Jesse floruit in E minor, WAB 52 by Anton Bruckner
Conductor:  Alphons Von Aarburg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich Boys' Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1885; Vienna, Austria 
Language: Latin 
4. Panis angelicus by César Franck
Performer:  Daniel Winiger (Organ), Praxedis Rütti (Harp)
Conductor:  Alphons Von Aarburg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich Boys' Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1872; France 
Language: Latin 
5. Ave Maria, M 62 by César Franck
Performer:  Daniel Perret (Boy Soprano), Frieder Lang (Tenor), Daniel Winiger (Organ),
Alain Clément (Bass)
Conductor:  Alphons Von Aarburg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich Boys' Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863; France 
Language: Latin 
6. Quattro pezzi sacri: Laudi alla Vergine Maria by Giuseppe Verdi
Conductor:  Alphons Von Aarburg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich Boys' Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1890; Italy 
7. Schlichte Weisen (60), Op. 76: no 52, Maria Wiegenlied by Max Reger
Performer:  Roy Egger (Boy Alto)
Conductor:  Alphons Von Aarburg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich Boys' Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1903-1912; Germany 
8. Ave Maria by Jacques Arcadelt
Conductor:  Alphons Von Aarburg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich Boys' Choir
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century 
9. Psalms of David, Op. 2: Lobe den Herren, meine Seele, SWV 39 by Heinrich Schütz
Performer:  Roy Egger (Boy Alto), Adrian Höhn (Boy Soprano)
Conductor:  Alphons Von Aarburg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich Boys' Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1619; Germany 
Language: German 
10. Ave Maria by Francesco Paolo Tosti
Conductor:  Alphons Von Aarburg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich Boys' Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1881; England 
11. Ave verum corpus in D major, K 618 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Daniel Winiger (Organ)
Conductor:  Alphons Von Aarburg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich Boys' Choir
Period: Classical 
Written: 1791; Austria 
Language: Latin 
12. Ave Maria for Soprano and Organ in B flat major by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Daniel Winiger (Organ)
Conductor:  Alphons Von Aarburg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich Boys' Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1859; France 
Language: Latin 
13. Ellens Gesang III, D 839/Op. 52 no 6 "Ave Maria" by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Alphons Von Aarburg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich Boys' Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1825; Vienna, Austria 
Language: German 
14. Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147: Jesu bleibet meine Freude "Jesu, joy of man's desiring" by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Alphons Von Aarburg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich Boys' Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1723; Leipzig, Germany 
Language: German 

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