Mozart • Schubert

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COMPOSERS: Mozart; Schubert
LABELS: Accentus Music
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart • Schubert
WORKS: Mozart: Mass in C minor; Schubert: Mass in E flat
PERFORMER: Rachel Harnisch, Roberta Invernizzi (soprano), Sara Mingardo (alto), Javier Camarena (tenor), Paolo Fanale (tenor), Alex Esposito (bass); Arnold Schoenberg Choir; Orchestra Mozart/Claudio Abbado


This concert from the 2012 Salzburg Festival consists of a Mass written by Mozart when he was 12, one of his first mature works, and one written by Schubert when he was 31, with a few months left to live. The late Claudio Abbado’s treatment of them is very much what we have come to expect from his Orchestra Mozart, here teamed with the Arnold Schoenberg choir and excellent soloists. So we get light textures, fairly brisk tempos, and sprung rhythms, though oddly in the many fugal passages in Schubert’s Mass in E flat the fugal entries generate less energy than they might.

The Mozart Mass is on a large-ish scale, lasting about 45 minutes, and is musically astonishingly sophisticated. Mozart, unlike Schubert, had a religious nature and though there are theatrical elements in this work its overall piety is never in doubt. Schubert, on the other hand, though he wrote a great deal of religious music, including several Masses, never sounds as if he is concerned with anything beyond nature, human and otherwise. This last Mass is by far his most impressive piece of religious music, but from the austere grandeur of the opening onwards, for the whole hour it lasts, it expresses states of the soul in relation to others and not to God. Schubert’s bringing back of the ‘Et incarnatus’ after the ‘Crucifixus’ is inconceivable in a religious work: his concerns are with music and the shape it needs to have to give voice to a world mainly of anguish. I’m not sure if it ranks with his other very great last works, the String Quintet, Winterreise, the last Piano Sonata, but it is in the same territory, and so are Abbado and his singers and players.


Michael Tanner