Haydn The American Boychoir - Mass and Vespers for the Feast of Holy Innocents - The Daily Telegraph

From the Middle Ages onward, the Feast of the Holy Innocents (December 28) was the day when children reigned supreme, even in church. In Austrian cities such as Salzburg, where Michael Haydn spent most of his working life, the services were sung by boy's voices only, and this delightful disc presents a vivid reconstruction - almost complete and practically solecism-free - of Mass and Vespers as they might have been heard on Innocent's Day 1805, the occasion for which this Missa S. Leopoldi was written.

All the music is scored for three high voices and an orchestra of two horns and strings, a texture that perfectly complements the full, rounded tone of this excellent choir. The compact single-movement settings, with their free-flowing mixture of solo and tutti passages, are richly inventive, and in these performances convey an impression of childlike innocence and exuberance. They also work perfectly as liturgical music, and the disc recaptures remarkably well the flavour of traditional Mass and Vespers.

05 February 2001