Haydn: Missa ‘Sunt bona mixta malis’; Offertorium ‘Non nobis, Domine’; Salve Regina; Ave Regina; Kleine orgelmesse

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COMPOSERS: Haydn
LABELS: Sony Vivarte
WORKS: Missa ‘Sunt bona mixta malis’; Offertorium ‘Non nobis, Domine’; Salve Regina; Ave Regina; Kleine orgelmesse
PERFORMER: Marie-Claude Vallin (soprano)Ann Monoyios (soprano)Tölz Boys’ Choir, L’Archibudelli, Tafelmusik/Bruno Weil
CATALOGUE NO: SK 53368 DDD
Except for his final half-dozen Masses, Haydn’s church music has never been very highly regarded. This excellent new CD suggests such disdain is totally unwarranted. The chief part of the disc comprises three works in the familiar ‘operatic’ style of later 18th-century sacred music, with several passages of striking beauty for the solo voice. The earliest piece here, Ave Regina, has some captivating writing for solo soprano, but the slightly later Salve Regina (from 1756) is lovelier still and bolder too – ‘certainly the finest work of Haydn’s youth,’ as HC Robbins Landon affirms in his expert notes. The Little Organ Mass, from c1777, also has many exquisite touches, notably its delicate, hushed climax.

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A major attraction here for Haydn aficionados will be the inclusion of two previously unrecorded pieces – a recently discovered fragment of the otherwise lost Missa ‘Sunt bona mixta malis’ and the brief Offertorium ‘Non nobis, Domine’. Both works hark back to the older, contrapuntal style of church music practised by Palestrina. If their austere tone comes as a surprise – especially in contrast to the gentle spirituality of the other works above – their grandeur is still profoundly affecting.

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In short, all the music here is performed with breathtaking sensitivity and skill. Undoubtedly a magnificent release.