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Franz Peter SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Sacred Music

1. Offertory Intende voci in B flat major for tenor, SATB chorus and orchestra, D.963 (1828)
2. Salve Regina in B flat major for SATB chorus, D.386 (1816)
3. Magnificat in C major for soprano, alto, tenor and baritone, SATB chorus, orchestra and organ, D.486 (1815)
4. Psalm 23 The Lord is my Shepherd , for 2 Sopranos and 2 Altos and piano, op. posth. D.706 (1820)
5. Salve Regina in B flat major for T, orchestra and organ, D.106 (1814)
6. Tantum ergo in E flat major for soprano, alto, tenor and baritone, SATB chorus and orchestra, D.962 (1828)
7. Offertory: Totus in corde langueo in C major for soprano, tenor, orchestra and organ, op.46 D.136 (1815)
8. Christ ist Erstanden D.440
9. Salve Regina, Mater Misericordiae, from Offertorium for soprano, orchestra and organ, op.47 D.223 (1815-23)
10. Gott in der nature, for female chorus with piano, op. posth 133 D.757 (1822)
11. Stabat Mater in G minor for SATB chorus, orchestra and organ, D.175 (1815)
12. Zum Sanctus: Heilig, Heilig, from Deutsche Masse for SATB chorus, orchestra and organ, D.872 (1827)
Rundfunkchor Berlin (1, 2, 6, 8, 10)
Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchestra, Berlin (1, 5, 6, 7, 9)
Dietrich Knothe, director (1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
Rias-Kammerchor (3, 11, 12)
Radio-Symphonie-Orchester, Berlin (3, 11, 12)
Marcus Creed, director (3, 11, 12)
Celina Lindsley, soprano (3)
Magdalena Hajossyov, soprano (7, 9)
Gabriele Schreckenbach, alt/contralto (3)
Peter Schreier, tenor (1, 5)
Werner Hollweg, tenor (3)
Walton Gronroos, bass (3)
Bernd Casper, piano
Recording venue and dates not provided DDD
CAPRICCIO SACD 71 050 [66:14]

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This Capriccio release includes twelve assorted pieces of sacred music; all complete works with the exception of the Zum Sanctus: Heilig, Heilig movement from the highly popular Deutsche Masse.

Schubert is not especially well known for his liturgical works. He did however produce this type of work consistently throughout his career, writing his first Mass in F major was he was only seventeen and his last Mass in E flat major in 1828, just a few months before his death.

Some of Schubertís early sacred works, which were very much influenced by Haydn, were performed at his local church and indeed were written specifically for performance there. However few of the later works were performed during his lifetime. Some of his sacred scores ran into trouble with Church authorities for inconsistencies in the word settings. Schubert never did set the words ĎI believe in one Catholic and Apostolic Churchí that were virtually compulsory and as such were not authorised by the Church for performance during services. Nevertheless, there are some wonderful settings amongst his six numbered Masses, the popular Deutsche Messe and the incomplete Easter Cantata: Lazarus, oder Die Feter der Auferstehung D.689 that was considered years ahead of its time.

The highlights of these Schubert scores include the opening work, the suitably reverent Offertory Intende voci in B flat major for Tenor, SATB chorus and orchestra, D.963 from 1828. At nine minutes this is the longest work on the release and displays Schubertís interesting use of woodwind. The featured tenor voice of Peter Schreier is in fine condition and at times reminded me of the quality of Peter Pears in full vocal maturity.

Itís almost beyond belief that Schubert wrote this beatific setting of the well-beloved Psalm 23, The Lord is my Shepherd op. posth. D.706 as an examination piece. Composed in 1820 at the request of Schubertís friend Anna Frolich, as a test piece for her vocal pupils. Written for two sopranos, two altos and piano the Psalm 23 has become a staple work in an arrangement for of womenís choirs. The exquisite harmonies of the piano prelude, the magical entry of the voices and the smooth writing for the female vocal quartet, who sing so excellently, make it so easy to understand the popularity of the work.

My favourite work on the disc is the superb version of Gott in der nature, in the arrangement for female chorus and piano accompaniment D.757 from 1822. The prominent piano part reminds me of Rossiniís Petite Messe Solennelle, which Schubert predates in this score by over forty years.

The sound quality from Capriccio is very natural and I played this SACD on my traditional CD player without any problems. The liner notes present difficulties as the annotation is uninteresting, often unclear, especially where the listing of soloists is concerned and very brief, in what is a rather poor effort. Information about the recording venue is unclear and the recording dates are not provided. The texts are provided in German but there are no English translations.

The performances of all concerned invites considerable praise and when combined with the integrity of Schubertís music this becomes a very desirable release.

Michael Cookson

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