Johann Michael Haydn Messe für Frauenchor Gudrun SchröfelJohann Michael Haydn
Missa Sancti Aloisi, Missa sub titulo Sancti Leopoldi

Hans Kössler
Missa in F

Mädchenchor Hannover

Ulfert Smidt, organ

Il gioco col suono
Gudrun Schröfel, conductor

Carus, 2013

Three masses are joined under the title Messe für Frauenchor: the first two (Missa Sancti Aloisi and Missa sub titulo Sancti Leopoldi) were composed on the occasion of the Day of the Holy Innocents by the younger and unjustly neglected brother of the “inventor of the string quartet”, Johann Michael Haydn. The third composition is the world premiere recording of the Mass in F by Hans Kössler, composer, organist, conductor and teacher lived in a later period (1853-1926), of whom one appreciates more the technical rigour that the originality in composition and whom approaches Brahms in terms of style.

The three works were composed originally for boys choirs, therefore, smattering of German, I cannot comprehend why the album was titled Messe für Frauenchor, that is, “Mass for women’s choir” – certainly this is a simplification, since the Mädchenchor Hannover chosen for this recording is a female choir, as its name suggests, but the fact remains that the title is misleading and the damage is even greater, when you consider that these are little-known works. Because of that title, those who do not want to study the history of the compositions or forget that in Haydn’s time women were forbidden to sing in church, might get the wrong idea about the origin and destination of these works.

This clarification is the worst thing I can say about Messe für Frauenchor, which proved to be a very good recording, although not exceptional. The Mädchenchor Hannover sings with great harmony and intensity, giving each composition an ethereal and not very deep nature, and solemnity, but an extremely delicate one, that would fit very well to a light baroque church. The solo voice that sometimes accompanies the choir belongs to a soprano with a clear and very timid voice, with all the weaknesses that this can generate. Her part is very short, however, and does not affect too much the result.

It is certain that the masses of J. M. Haydn do not reach a mysticism comparable to that of the elder brother or of Mozart and that Kössler does not stand out for originality, but they are nevertheless small, interesting and nice gems.