Tölzer Knabenchor was formed by Gerhard Schmidt-Gaden in
1956. It takes its name from Bad Tölz in Bavaria where the
choir was founded. Since then the group has become an important
resource in the early music movement providing boys for treble
and alto lines - the choir uses boy altos rather than men
- in innumerable recordings. It has a life of its own and
has produced a number of recordings.
six-part Missa Tu es Petrus - he also wrote a twelve-part
mass - does not seem to do well in the CD catalogue at the
moment. It is a lovely mass, imbibing as it does the rich
six-part texture of the Tu es Petrus motet on which
it is based. As with most of his parody masses, Palestrina
takes parts of the motet and uses them as starting points
for further development in the mass.
such I was rather looking forward to hearing this performance
and was prepared to allow for some signs of age in the recording
and performing style. Presumably the record company chose
to re-issue this disc as part of the choir’s 50th anniversary,
though the CD booklet gives no information about the choir
and unfortunately they are not shown up at their best.
I associate the Tölzer Knabenchor with a rich, rather vibrant
continental-type sound, more focused and throatier than the
classic English treble sound, though of course the emulation
of the continental model at Westminster and other places
means that the distinction is now harder to make. This normally
results in a vivid, passionate sound that can, at times,
be rather thrilling.
on this disc the results simply sound a little too rough
and ready and at times rather coarse. I felt that the differentiation
between the vocal parts lacked clarity but it is tricky to
tell if this is a fault of the choir, the recording or the
uses unnamed soloists for some passages. These also sound
a little weak and lacking in the control and sophistication
that I would have liked.
disc does not make it clear who is singing the lower parts.
The choir’s current web-site gives details of their male
voice group, made up of young men from the choir whose voices
have broken. If these were the type of young voices used
on this disc then it would go some way to explain the recording.
I am being too harsh on a thirty odd year old recording made
by boys. But I have to say that, unusual though the repertoire
is the disc is not one that I will be returning to.
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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