Jean Daetwyler

Jean Daetwyler: Messe Valaisanne; Noël Valaisan

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AllMusic Review by

Jean Daetwyler (1907-1994), little known outside of his native Switzerland, was remarkably prolific, writing over 700 works. This disc includes two large-scale religious pieces, as well as three short anthems. Daetwyler's music comes across as accessible and old-fashioned because he deploys his modernist tricks with such subtlety, often sneaked in under a broadly lyrical melody; he's not a reactionary, but he doesn't fit into any recognizable school of composition. In any case, it's easy to imagine these liturgical works easily slipping into a post-Vatican II service of worship. Messe Valaisanne and the multimovement Noël Valaisanne prominently incorporate fifes and drums, the signature instruments of the Valais region of Switzerland. (The Mass also uses organ and brass in its accompaniment.) The rusticity of the instrumental ensemble (except for the organ) makes this sound very much like outdoor music, an impression that's heightened by Daetwyler's hearty and robust folk-like melodies. This genial music is full of charm and wit without coming across as simplistic or unsophisticated. Daetwyler's music exemplifies an intriguing and unique solution to the difficulty of writing modern liturgical music that's both intellectually engaging and within the capability of the average church choir. It's performed with obvious delight by a variety of Swiss choirs and orchestras, led with verve by the composer, with fine solo work by operatic tenor Eric Tappy. The sound is clear and atmospheric.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Messe Valaisanne, for chorus
1
4:14
2
2:06
3
3:46
4
1:02
5
1:20
6
0:32
7
1:21
8
2:57
9
1:55
10
0:42
11
1:30
12
0:34
13
1:31
14
1:42
15
0:32
16
1:24
17
1:00
18
5:18
19
4:07
20
4:16
Noël Valaisan, for chorus
21
2:29
22
2:33
23
3:31
24
2:32
25
1:56
26
1:05
27
1:57
28
3:29
29
2:11
30
1:17
31
1:52
32
0:56
33
2:48
34
1:59
blue highlight denotes track pick