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Ultimate Schubert: The Essential Masterpieces [Box Set]
     

Ultimate Schubert: The Essential Masterpieces [Box Set]

 
Among top-tier classical composers, Franz Schubert may well have left the most impressive showing in terms of sheer productivity within his rather limited range of time; though active only about 18 years, Schubert produced some 1,100 works -- one does not know when he must have slept; perhaps he didn't. In the budget category, Decca has produced the five-CD set

Overview

Among top-tier classical composers, Franz Schubert may well have left the most impressive showing in terms of sheer productivity within his rather limited range of time; though active only about 18 years, Schubert produced some 1,100 works -- one does not know when he must have slept; perhaps he didn't. In the budget category, Decca has produced the five-CD set Ultimate Schubert, which contains just 11 works -- one one-hundredth of his output -- in decent, mostly older, stereo recordings. The performances chosen are excellent ones; here we have the "Great C major" symphony with the Vienna Philharmonic under István Kertész, the Quartetto Italiano in the "Death and the Maiden Quartet," and Clifford Curzon in a selection of piano music. That's all very nice, but something described as "ultimate" and pertaining to Franz Schubert must at least contain something of his vocal music; he is probably the "ultimate" composer of lieder, and one cannot grasp his style at even a basic level without at least considering some of his art songs. Moreover, it is not as if Decca has no recordings of Schubert lieder in its catalog from which to choose. Although the discs are well filled, CD 4 contains just Schubert's C major quintet and quartet movement in C minor, adding up to just short of 60 minutes; the inclusion of two or three lied would've really added some value in the otherwise blank remainder. In addition, one wonders why the whole of the "Rosamunde" music was included; the overture, certainly, is among Schubert's best-known orchestral works, but the rest of the incidental music is rather third-tier in comparison with other possible options, such as the "Symphony No. 3," the "Sonata D. 960," not to mention some lieder. If the artists here are appealing -- certainly the Beaux Arts Trio, Kertész, and Curzon would be -- and one does not already have them in performances of these works, then Ultimate Schubert might be an option; certainly the asking price is none too dear for a five-disc set. Nevertheless, as a basic guide to what's the best and most important music of Schubert, which Ultimate Schubert seems to want to be as it is subtitled "the essential masterpieces," it cannot be recommended as such. While his instrumental music is superb, Schubert's melodic voice is found in the lied and it is the driving force behind his more ambitious projects. In Ultimate Schubert, Decca has managed to provide the cart without the horse.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/11/2007
Label:
Decca
UPC:
0028947585428
catalogNumber:
000972602
Rank:
87558

Tracks

  1. Rosamunde, Fürstin von Cypern, incidental music, D. 797 (Op. 26)
  2. Symphony No. 8 in B minor ("Unfinished"), D. 759
  3. Symphony No. 5 in B flat major, D. 485
  4. Symphony No. 9 in C major ("The Great"), D. 944
  5. String Quartet No. 14 in D minor ("Death and the Maiden"), D. 810
  6. Quintet for piano, violin, viola, cello & double bass in A major ("Trout"), D. 667 (Op. posth. 114)
  7. Quintet for 2 violins, viola & 2 cellos in C major, D. 956 (Op. posth. 163)
  8. String Quartet No. 12 in C minor ("Quartettsatz"), D. 703
  9. Piano Sonata No. 17 in D major ("Gasteiner"), D. 850 (Op. 53)
  10. Impromptu for piano in G flat major, D. 899/3 (Op. 90/3)
  11. Impromptu for piano in A flat major, D. 899/4 (Op. 90/4)
  12. Moments musicaux (6) for piano, D. 780 (Op. 94)

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