- Magnificat for soloists, chorus, orchestra & organ in C major, D. 486
- Mass for soloists, chorus, orchestra & organ in A flat major (Missa Solemnis), D. 678
The Immortal Bach Ensemble of Leipzig is a chamber choir associated with the Gewandhaus concert hall; it takes its name from a work by composer Knut Nystedt and is not especially oriented toward Baroque music. The group, together with the Leipzig Chamber Orchestra, has released a series of delicate, moderate-sized performances of Schubert's masses, some of them a bit idiosyncratic but all well worth trying out. Danish conductor Morten Schuldt-Jensen forges distinctive readings throughout of the "Mass No. 5 in A flat major, D. 678," the composer's personal favorite among his mass settings, and one to which he later returned to make revisions, something he very rarely did. As elsewhere in the series, Schuldt-Jensen avoids the warm melodic lyricism that some prize in Schubert's masses (and Schubert in general), but he replaces it with a sort of precise grace that's very appealing. All four of the soloists are excellent, with German alto Bettina Ranch a real standout -- she has a blast furnace of a voice that nevertheless blends beautifully with the others in the work's numerous quartet ensembles. Another point in this recording's favor is the presence of the rarely heard "Magnficat in C major, D. 486," which sets the text only through the Gloria Patri. It's a simple, sunny work that would be enjoyable for amateur choirs, and it's worthwhile to have a clean recording of it in circulation. The sonic environment of Leipzig's Paul-Gerhardtkirche is very nicely exploited by local engineer Thomas Wieber, and the balances among the choir, the strings, and the gently lyrical brasses are excellent.