Saturday, August 22, 2009

I used to think there was only one song called Ave Maria and that was the one by Schubert. Then I started getting educated about these things and found out, of course, that there are lots of Ave Marias.
I have a sweet album from Zurich, Switzerland, recorded by the Zurcher Sangerknaben and the title of the album is Ave Maria. They have one version of this song by Charles Gounod which uses a portion of a song by Bach as its base. This is a great version, sung with intense feeling and some really high notes.

It’s interesting that Franz Schubert’s Ellens Dritter Gesang is often misidentified as "Schubert's Ave Maria" because it opens with the greeting "Ave Maria", even though it is not a setting of the traditional Ave Maria prayer. The original text of Schubert's song is from Sir Walter Scott’s The Lady of the Lake.

Anton Bruckner has an Ave Maria and so do Cesar Franck, Francesco Paolo Tosti, Jakob Ardadelt, Camille Saint Saens and, of course, Schubert. They are all on this CD along with Franck’s Panis Angelicus and Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus, and a few others. There is even a Verdi number Laudi Alla Virgine Maria (which I believe is another way of saying Ave Maria) from his opera Otello.

There are some men’s voices helping out in here but mostly it’s the boys who make it such a pretty recording. The cover mentions Daniel Perret and Arian Hohn as sopranos and Roy Egger as alto.

Alphons von Aarburg directs The Zurich Boys Choir which he founded in 1960. More than 130 youngsters from all backgrounds belong to the various groups that make up the choir. Choir members who come from the greater Zurich area rehearse two to three times a week. They also spend two or three weeks at the choir's singing camp in Burgundy (France) during spring and summer holidays. This ’camp’ is at a beautiful castle on a private lake and is far from the rustic image that’s suggested by the term ’camp’. Lucky kids.

Seven and eight year-old boys receive their first training at the Singschule (singing school) and their education culminates in being part of the concert choir. Older boys are given the chance to perform with the men's choruses. The Zurich Boys Choir has toured extensively in Europe and the US and perform also in the Zurich Opera.


  1. man i love that ave maria, always have

  2. Think just about every classical composer did at least one "Ave Maria," and some are absolutely gorgeous. My personal favorite, though, is set to the Intermezzo from Mascagni's "Cavalleria rusticana," as the melody itself is simply glorious. Can't find a recording of a boy-choir doing it, unfortunately...on YouTube, there are a few videos of it...the best is probably the version done by Norwegian mezzo-soprano, Sissel...I can just imagine a really good mixed men-and-boy choir doing it, though!

  3. David, that sounds like something I need to hear. I'm going to YouTube now. Thanks for the tip.