Michael Haydn Choral Works hold their own

Let’s be clear. Michael Haydn was not a bad composer. He was a very good one. Just not as great as his brother, Franz Joseph. But even Franz Joseph thought Michael was the better choral composer of the two.

This album helps make that case with a set of unusual works. All three compositions are for upper register voices. In some cases, these may have been boys instead of female singers. For this recording, it’s the St. Albans Cathedral Girls Choir.

I’ve heard enough female choir pieces by second and third-tier composers to understand the challenge. How do you provide contrast and variety when all the voices are clumped together?

Haydn had the answers. His choruses have a full sound, expanding out to the extremes of the registers. And without male voices, these choruses have an ethereal quality as well. He also uses soprano and mezzo-soprano solo voices effectively. They provide a clear contrast with the choral accompaniment.

The result is an album of engagingly beautiful choral works. Director Tom Winpenny keeps the music moving along. In some cases giving rapid passages a dance-like quality.

I think brother Franz may have a point. Based on this release, I’m now curious to hear more of Michael Haydn’s sacred compositions.

Michael Haydn: Missa Sancti Nicolai Tabentini
Vesperae Pro Festo Sancti Innocentium, Anima Nostra
Jenni Harper, Emily Owen, sopranos; Helen Charlston, mezzo-soprano
Marko Sever, organ
St. Albans Cathedral Girls Choir; Lawes Baroque Players; Tom Winpenny, conductor
Naxos 8.574163

More Recent Posts

  • This Saturday: WTJU live broadcasts from the Community Chalkboard rededication

    Earlier this year, The Bridge PAI became the owner and caretaker of the Community Chalkboard on Charlottesville’s downtown mall. All this week, The Bridge is celebrating a rededication of the community chalkboard with art and performances of all kinds. This Saturday, September 18th, WTJU will air two live music performances from the Community Chalkboard. At […]

  • Tune in and donate to WTJU’s Jazz Marathon, Oct 4 – 10

    WTJU Jazz connects you to our community and transcendent music. We need your support to keep WTJU going! WTJU is different. We’re a free public service dedicated to sharing the transcendent experience of jazz & blues – while counting on listeners like you to provide the funding to make it possible. Every note of every song […]

  • Listen to this show with legendary underground artist Lydia Lunch

    The legendary Lydia Lunch joined WTJU host Erin O on September 14 for a special edition of Ye Olde Tuesday Afternoon Rocke Show. Listen up: wtju · Lydia Lunch on WTJU’s “Ye Olde Tuesday Afternoon Rocke Show” You don’t want to miss this interview with punk performance provocateur as you ready for Wednesday’s free show at Champion Brewing […]

  • Christopher Gunning Symphony 5 and String Quartet 1 an interesting pairing

    Tags: , , ,

    Signum Classics continues their survey of Christopher Gunning’s music with a mix. This release features an orchestral and a chamber work. But there is a connection. Both works show Gunning’s growth as a composer. And they show his willingness to challenge himself. Gunning composed his fifth symphony as his sister’s health declined. She was to […]

  • New Jazz & Blues News – 9/14/2021

    New Jazz & Blues News – 9/14/2021 New Jazz Releases: Bill Banfield’s Jazzurban 2 – ..Hey, holla when you hear me.. (Jazz Urbane): “The Jazz Urbane Is A Contemporary Recording/Performing Collective Which Embraces And Is Infused With Great R&B Song Writing, Melodies, Band Grooves And Style. Not Really A “New Movement”, Just A New Configuration […]