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Schubert: Masses Nos. 1 & 3 / Schuldt-jensen, Immortal Bach Ensemble

Schubert / Schuldt-jensen / Immortal Bach Ens
Release Date: 09/28/2010 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8572279   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Franz Schubert
Performer:  Min Woo LimTrine Wilsberg LundDorothea CraxtonBettina Ranch,   ... 
Conductor:  Morten Schuldt-Jensen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Chamber OrchestraImmortal Bach Ensemble
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 58 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

It's impossible to connect the composer of Die schöne Müllerin (1823) and Die Winterreise (1827) with the creator of these Masses, which Schubert wrote in his late teens. The master melodist, the unsurpassed musical evocateur of German Romantic poetry is nowhere in evidence--and we may credit that to the fact that they are youthful works and that they are tailored for specific church ritual. Indeed, they are functional, faithful in form and style to conventions long-established for works in the genre by composers such as Haydn and Mozart. And yet, unlike Schubert, those latter geniuses usually found a way to infuse even such formalized liturgical creations with moments of characterful originality.

Schubert's Masses
Read more are conceptually straightforward--and in style, the music is very much of its time, exceptionally well crafted, refined and conservative in harmony and treatment of thematic ideas. And while there's nothing here to particularly challenge either experienced singers or attentive listeners, the music is nothing if not very pleasant, very easy on voices and ears, and happily for the church congregation, never boring.

It helps that Schubert adopts the technique of breaking up the Gloria and Credo movements into sections--and zips through the oft-dreaded Credo in both Masses without muss or fuss. There are several moments in the F major work that are more than a little reminiscent of Mozart's Requiem, and you might think of Haydn in the B-flat major Mass Kyrie--but Schubert also adds his own touches: a lilting dance at the beginning of the F major Mass Credo, a vigorous fugal opening to the Gloria--and overall devises a setting that's vibrant and uplifting and free of affectation.

The B-flat Mass shows deft use of soloists, who are not isolated but are skillfully integrated into the choral/orchestral structure. Again, there's not much of notable melodic interest or inventive thematic development, but the young composer's command of his material--listen to the exciting conclusion to the Gloria and continued momentum in the opening of the Credo--and his facility for keeping things moving is impressive.

Of course, these impressions are brought to us through the excellent performances of Morten Schuldt-Jensen and his Immortal Bach Ensemble and Leipzig orchestra. Schubert is fortunate to have such well-practiced, enthusiastic advocates for these rather minor works--their solid ensemble singing and richly-colored orchestral sound certainly give these Masses more substantial presence and expressive impact than we remember from other performances and recordings. I never was a fan of these works, but I have to say that I truly enjoyed this disc and these performances. Recommended.

--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Mass no 1 in F major, D 105 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Min Woo Lim (Tenor), Trine Wilsberg Lund (Soprano), Dorothea Craxton (Soprano),
Bettina Ranch (Alto), Andreas Karasiak (Tenor), Assaf Levitin (Bass)
Conductor:  Morten Schuldt-Jensen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Chamber Orchestra,  Immortal Bach Ensemble
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1814; Vienna, Austria 
Mass no 3 in B flat major, D 324/Op. 141 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Assaf Levitin (Bass), Min Woo Lim (Tenor), Trine Wilsberg Lund (Soprano),
Bettina Ranch (Alto)
Conductor:  Morten Schuldt-Jensen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Chamber Orchestra,  Immortal Bach Ensemble
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1815; Vienna, Austria 

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