Helen Donath (soprano), Ingeborg Springer (mezzo-soprano), Peter Schreier (tenor) & Theo Adam (bass)
Staatskapelle Dresden & Leipzig Radio Choir, Wolfgang Sawallisch
Schubert’s last great masses – No.5 in A flat and No.6 in E flat – are his greatest achievements in this genre, both seeking to reconcile Christian liturgical grandeur with new-found romantic expression. They are much more substantial than the composer’s earlier masses, which still lie firmly within the classical tradition of Haydn and Mozart.
Schubert was very proud of his sublime A flat mass, which took him three years to write, and was the only completed major work of the so-called ‘crisis’ years. It features some of Schubert’s most beautiful and complex writing for choir and orchestra. His last and most ambitious mass, the Mass No.6 in E flat, was once considered something of a Cinderella among the great works of his final year. However, it is increasingly acknowledged as a powerful and disquieting masterpiece, more monumental than the A flat.
Wolfgang Sawallisch is renowned for his performances of Schubert’s church music, and these glorious recordings from 1971, made with the Staatskapelle Dresden and the Rundfunkchor Leipzig, were released to great acclaim. The team of legendary soloists are all experienced performers of oratorio: soprano Helen Donath, mezzo-soprano Ingeborg Springer, tenor Peter Schreier and bass Theo Adam.
Mass No. 5 in A flat major, D678
Mass No. 6 in E flat major, D950