Peter Schreier

Schubert: Gestliche Musik

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The small sacred pieces recorded here may qualify as unusual even for Schubert lovers, for when Schubert's sacred music is recorded at all it is usually the masses that get the spotlight. Composed at different times in Schubert's career for varying occasions and forces, they make up something of a grab bag, and that quality carries over to this disc. Potential buyers ought to note that the great German tenor Peter Schreier, billed as a primary artist on the cover, actually is heard on only two tracks, the Offertory in B flat major for tenor and chorus, D. 963, which was almost the last thing Schubert wrote (track 1), and the Salve Regina in B flat major for tenor and orchestra, D. 106, which dates from Schubert's youth (track 5). The other pieces that involve soloists feature a collection of lesser known singers. A couple of piano-accompanied pieces seem to come out of nowhere, and the inclusion of the song Gott in der Natur, D. 757, which is hardly a sacred piece, seems designed to pad out a skimpy program. The booklet notes are choppy, delivering a few lines on each piece in a disconnected fashion, and texts (whether Latin or German) are in German only. None of this is to say, however, that there are not individual moments here that make the whole thing worth hearing. Several of the pieces are connected with the mass settings composed around the same time, and both the Schreier Offertory and the Tantum Ergo in E flat major, D. 962, seem of a piece with the final Mass in E flat major, D. 950. Gott ist mein Hirt (Psalm 23), D. 706, for female chorus, is a luminous thing. Several of the solos and solo ensemble pieces resemble the lyrical central sections that give the massses their peculiar exotic flavor, and the choral singing from the veteran RIAS-Kammerchor and Rundfunkchor Berlin is never less than completely competent. Perhaps better appreciated in Internet-sized chunks than as a start-to-finish program, this disc has moments that will be cherished by Schubert enthusiasts.

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