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Sacred Vocal Music from 18th Century Switzerland.
Franciscus Josef Leonti MAYER (1720-1789), Hymno Ambrosiano: Te Deum laudamus (1763).
Johann(es) SCHMIDLIN (1722-1772). Gloria in excelsis Deo (1758), Magnificat anima mea Dominum (1758).
Johann Jacob WALDER (1750-1817)/Johann Heinrich EGLI (1742-1810), Drittes Morgen-Lied. Solo: Auf meines Gottes treu
Johann Casper BACHOFEN (1693-1755), Trio: Christi Todes, des Todes Tod, Wo ist Jesus meine Liebe? Arie à due: Schafelin wo bleibst du doch? Sonata and second, unnamed, Arie à due all undated.
The Choir of Gonville and Caius College Cambridge/Director Geoffrey Webber
The Cambridge Baroque Camerata/Director, Jonathan Hellyer Jones.
Recorded in the Chapel of Queens College Cambridge, 10th-12th December 2001
GUILD GMCD 7248 [60.20]


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In reviewing ‘Voices of Africa’ for this site, I suggested that Guild, which already enjoys an enviable reputation amongst specialist collectors of cathedral choral music, was spreading its net ever wider to encompass a varied and eclectic repertoire. This is furthered on this very enjoyable and stimulating disc financed with the help of the ‘Zentralbibliothek Zurich; Switzerland being also Guild’s home base. The disc and its companion (GMCD 7255) adds to a previous duo of Swiss music issued by Guild (GMCD 7175 and GMCD 7177).

Sacred Vocal Music, has works set to both Latin text and German words. The Latin setting by Schmidlin, ‘Gloria’ (tr 2) and ‘Magnificat’ (tr 9) are, to my ears, much leaner in musical invention than, for example, Bachofen’s ‘Trio’ (tr 6), and particularly ‘Aria à due’ (tr 8) that I found particularly enjoyable. In the latter piece Jennifer Dunford and Catherine Bell match each other, phrase by phrase, with pure tone and legato line including delightful ‘sotto voce’ singing - nearly eight minutes of vocal and musical delight! Indeed it is the vocal strength of the four soloists in Schmidlin’s long ‘Magnificat’ (tr 9) that distracts from the lack of musical invention in the piece. Enjoyable too is Bachofen’s other ‘Arie à due’ included here (tr 3) albeit the melodic invention is leaner than on track 8 and the voices are soprano and bass. The soprano, Abigail Boreham sings with eloquence although I would have enjoyed a more graceful ending to some phrases, whilst the bass (more baritone in timbre) has clear abbreviated staccato passages early in the piece his tone is rather dry later on.

The ‘Hymno Ambrosiano’ by Meyer (tr 1) betrays a warm, vibrant, Latin influence probably related to the composers training in Milan and being Lucerne-based rather than Zurich. The two sopranos sing here with admirably pure tone. The sleeve-note suggests that it is music that owes much to the contemporary South German Catholic tradition. The choir singing here, and indeed throughout, is of a high standard with excellent balance and articulation.

The recording catches the voices, soloists and choir in a clear and warm, but not over-resonant acoustic, whilst the contributions of the Cambridge Camerata and the organ continuo are supportive not intrusive. The sleeve-note by John Reed Coulter of the University of Pretoria could gainfully have been somewhat more informative and discursive. All texts are given with English translation.

The supporters of Guild’s eclectic repertoire will find much to enjoy in this disc.

Robert J Farr



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