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GRAMOPHONE ( Awards 2021 - 11/2021)
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Reviewer: David Fallows

The basis of this album lies in the Geneva Psalter, published in 1562 with metrical translations by Clément Marot and Théodore de Bèze. This had monophonic melodies for each psalm, some of which the musicians of Lamaraviglia sing here. Otherwise they present the dull homophonic settings by Claude Goudimel and the marvellously resourceful ones by Sweelinck. But the actual springboard is that a set of handwritten partbooks from the Engadine village of Zuoz has the Sweelinck settings with texts not in his French but in the fourth ‘official’ language of Switzerland (since 1938), namely Romansch. So we have performances of these psalms in all four languages, including Italian translations by the Bergell priest Andrea Planta (1740), German translations by Ambrosius Lobwasser printed in Zurich (1749) and Romansch translations by Lurainz Wietzel (1661).

This is the first recording from the voices-only Ensemble Lamaraviglia, based in Basel though comprising many nationalities; and they sing beautifully throughout, with impeccable intonation and crystal-clear balance. The only problem is that most of the music is so deadly: thank goodness that they usually sing only a single stanza of each psalm. But that same dutiful dullness appears to have infected their Sweelinck performances. For those glorious works there are fortunately other recordings, all far more lively and of course with Sweelinck’s original French texts.

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