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Schubert: Mass In A Flat, Etc / Gardiner, Monteverdi Choir


Release Date: 05/11/1999 
Label:  Philips   Catalog #: 456578   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Franz Schubert
Performer:  Deborah YorkSally Bruce-PayneMichael GeorgeNeill Archer,   ... 
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi ChoirOrchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 13 Mins. 

Special Order: This CD requires additional production time and ships within 2-3 weeks.  

This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Gardiner’s interpretation of Schubert’s great, often visionary A flat Mass, the work that absorbed him longer than any other, stands somewhere between the generously moulded, romantically inclined Sawallisch and the fresh, guileless reading from Bruno Weil using an all-male choir and boy soloists. Where Gardiner immediately scores is in the sheer poise and refinement of his performance: neither of the other choirs sings with such effortless blend, such perfect dynamic control or such precise intonation – a crucial advantage in, say, the tortuous chromaticism of the ‘Crucifixus’. Equally predictably, the orchestral playing is superb, with a ravishing contribution from the woodwind, who throughout the Mass are favoured with some of Schubert’s Read more most poetic writing.

Gardiner is straighter, more abstemious with rubato, than Sawallisch, though he usually allows the music more breathing space than the brisk, exuberant Weil. His minute care for Schubert’s phrasing and dynamic marks (making you aware, for example, how much of the writing is marked pp or even ppp) and the fabulous control of his singers and players often make for deeply satisfying results – as in the gentle, luminous Kyrie, where Gardiner shows a typically acute feel for harmonic flux and the curve of the Schubertian line. The opening of the Gloria has a torrential energy, and Gardiner is not one to miss a trick in, say, the cataclysmic drama of the ‘Crucifixus’ or the long, smouldering crescendos and awesome modulations of the Sanctus. Occasionally, though, the very polish and precision of the music-making can seem a shade studied: the clipped, no-nonsense opening of the Credo, for instance, sounds almost like an elocution lesson; and Gardiner favours a smart pace and emphatic, martial accents in the Dona nobis pacem, stressing the regular four-bar phraseology, where Sawallisch, at a slower tempo, finds altogether more breadth and nobility.

Gardiner’s soloists, led by the plangent, boyish tones of Deborah York, use their relatively limited opportunities well: the ‘Gratias’ trio, sung with chamber-musical delicacy, is one of the highlights of the performance. Ever musicologically aware, Gardiner interestingly opts for the original, less gargantuan version of the ‘Cum sancto spiritu’ fugue, the most problematic and least personal section of the Mass; and as an appendix he gives us the original draft of the ‘Et incarnatus est’, with several significant differences, including lighter scoring (no trombones, for instance), from the final version.

The additional items, none of them over-familiar, are well contrasted. Two are late works: the rapt Hymn to the Holy Ghost and the solemn, declamatory Psalm 92, set to the Hebrew text for the famous Jewish cantor Salomon Sulzer and sung here in German translation. Even less well known is Schubert’s 1815 setting of the first four verses of the Stabat mater, a poignant and, at times, intensely dramatic little piece. Performances of all three are first-rate, with Colin Campbell firm and resonant in the cantor’s role in Psalm 92. The recorded sound is perfectly acceptable, though – an all-too-familiar litany – the balance favours the orchestra, especially the violins, over the chorus and even at times the soloists. Confined to a single version of the A flat Mass I would still go for Sawallisch, a Schubertian of vast experience and innate sympathy. But quite apart from the very considerable merits of this new version, the enterprisingly chosen smaller items could well make Gardiner a first choice for many.'

-- Richard Wigmore, Gramophone [10/1999]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Mass no 5 in A flat major, D 678 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Deborah York (Soprano), Sally Bruce-Payne (Mezzo Soprano), Michael George (Bass),
Neill Archer (Tenor)
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi Choir,  Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1822; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 02/1997 
Venue:  Live  Megaron Concert Hall, Athens, Greece 
Length: 42 Minutes 29 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
2.
Hymnus an den Heiligen Geist, D 948b/Op. 154 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Robert Burt (Tenor), Robert McDonald (Bass), Neill Archer (Tenor),
Colin Campbell (Baritone)
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi Choir,  Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1828; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 02/1997 
Venue:  Megaron Concert Hall, Athens, Greece 
Length: 8 Minutes 32 Secs. 
Language: German 
3.
Psalm 92, D 953 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Lynette Alcantara (Alto), Robert Burt (Tenor), Robert McDonald (Bass),
Colin Campbell (Baritone), Mhairi Lawson (Soprano)
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi Choir,  Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1828; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 02/1997 
Venue:  Megaron Concert Hall, Athens, Greece 
Length: 5 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Language: German 
4.
Stabat Mater in G minor, D 175 by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi Choir,  Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1815; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 02/1997 
Venue:  Megaron Concert Hall, Athens, Greece 
Length: 6 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
5.
Mass no 5 in A flat major, D 678: Credo by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Michael George (Bass), Neill Archer (Tenor), Sally Bruce-Payne (Mezzo Soprano),
Deborah York (Soprano)
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi Choir,  Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1822; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 02/1997 
Venue:  Megaron Concert Hall, Athens, Greece 
Length: 9 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
Notes: This recording features Schubert's earliest version of the "Et incarnatus est" section of the Credo. 

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