GMCD 7308 – God Be In My Head – Sacred & Secular Treble Solos

Freddy de Rivaz – Treble Solo, Nicholas Robinson – Piano & Chamber Organ

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Church Music Quarterly June

Freddy de Rivaz, who is now fifteen, was a treble at St Albans Abbey from 1999 until 2006 (the year this CD was recorded). Freddy’s treble voice was very beautiful: clear, pure and expressive, without sounding in any way prissy or affected. On this disc he sings an attractive programme of music by Walford Davies (God be in my head), Richard Rodney Bennet, Lallouette, Richard Shepherd, Pelham Humphrey (A hymn to God the Father), Warlock (Balulalow), Caldara, Jeremiah Clarke, Bach/Gounod (Ave Maria), Peter Hurford (Litany to the Holy Spirit), Britten, Fauré (Pie Jesu), Evelyn Sharpe, Mendelssohn (Hear my prayer), and Orff (In trutina from Carmina Burana). In each item Freddy is musically accompanied by Messers Robinson, Davy and Johnson; and the work of the music staff at St Albans should not be forgotten in nurturing so appropriately so fine a voice. My only criticism is the quality of the recording of the piano on some of the tracks and a slight amount of background hiss more noticeable on some tracks than on others. While the listener will find a disc packed with lovely Performances, the highlight for me is a spine-tingling rendition of Richard Rodney Bennett’s The birds’ lament, to which I have returned again and again. While I am sometimes left cold by recordings of star trebles, this was one voice certainly worth capturing before nature took its course.

American Record Guide, July/August 2007

It would be such a shame to allow the fleeting glory of an exceptional boy treble’s voice to go unrecorded before nature turns it into some­thing entirely different. The clarity and inno­cent sweetness of a gifted treble can be irre­sistible, especially when there is musicality to match. Thus we are blessed to have this pleas­ant little survey of sacred and secular pieces sang by Freddy de Rivaz, a star chorister in the Cathedral Choir at St Alban’s Abbey for seven years.

Master Freddy’s impressive instrument encompasses mach of both the alto and sopra­no ranges, with exceptional vocal consistency and juicy depth of tone from top to bottom. He supports his sustained notes beautifully, and he knows how to use his youthful vibrato to add contrast to his rock-steady straight tones. He further offers an exceptional sense of pitch and more than his fair share of precocious musicianship.

His program includes a few of the usual sacred boy-soprano Standards, including Fau­re’s ‘Pie Jesu’ and Mendelssohn’s ‘Hear my Prayer’. There’s the Bach-Gounod ‘Ave Maria’ and a four-century range of mostly familiar pieces from English composers. At the secular end are an English folksong or two and an Orff excerpt.

De Rivaz offers a nice contrast to the last solo chorister I covered: Aled Jones (J/F 2006, p 277), who had a range that was more restricted to the soprano end and a more piercing sound. He is nicely partnered at the organ, though one of the pianos used sounds rather clunky (in the Bach-Gounod). Guild records the pro­ceedings well and offers an acceptable booklet. Despite only 38 minutes of music, the boy tre­ble crowd should be very happy with this one.