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Posted October 1, 2010
To those comparing the Masses of Franz Schubert to say, Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, one may be disappointed at the relative lack of virtuoso display and fire, for lack of a better word. A complete set of Schu- bert's Masses conducted by Wolfgang Sawallisch was reissued by EMI a few years ago. As well done as that set is, one notices that there is much music that is shall we say, less than inspiring. However,in the
present release Robert Shaw has picked two of Schubert's most popular Masses - the Nos. 2 and 6 which contrast nicely in mood and subse- quently make a winning combination, especially for one hearing these works for the first time.
The Mass No. 2 is the shorter and more familiar of the two. It is a great favorite among countless choral groups due to its engaging, flowing lyricism and the relatively easy demands on its performers. Shaw and the Atlantans rightly gives the lyricism its due and give a warm, convincing performance.
The Mass no.6 is much longer and more demanding both in its choral writing and orchestration. Indeed, comparisons to Bruckner have been
made and rightly so. However, among the massive and powerful movements
are sections of much lyrical beauty. In this Mass the vocal soloists are used both in alternation with the chorus and in their own solos as opposed to the Mass No. 2 where the soloists have their own differen- tiated sections as in Mozart or Haydn. Again, Shaw and his forces are to be commended for bringing this Mass to life just as sucessfully as its shorter counterpart above.
Once again, all the performers are first-rate, the choruses' diction is
clear thrughout and the recorded sound is warm and spacious. A great in-
troduction to a body of work which should be heard and performed more
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Posted October 19, 2010
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