From America's greatest choral conductor, Robert Shaw, and his superbly trained Atlanta forces comes a new recording of two settings of the Latin mass by Franz Schubert. Shaw and the Telarc recording team have won numerous Grammy Awards, they continue that tradition of excellence with Schubert: Mass No. 2 & Mass No. 6.
In all, Schubert wrote six Masses over a period stretching from his school days to the end of his life. All but the last were written for specific performances in local churches, and all are practical works reflecting Viennese performance customs of the time.
Mass No. 2 in G major was composed in 1815, when Schubert was 18 and just embarking on a teaching career. Simple and tuneful, it is a small-scaled work for chamber choir accompanied only by strings and organ. Soprano, tenor, and bass soloists contribute to the intimate beauty of the choral writing. The Mass must have gladdened the heart of his teacher, Antonio Salieri, who praised Schubert's first Mass with the words, "Franz, you are my pupil and you are going to do me proud."
The product of a remarkable surge of music Schubert wrote in his final year, Mass No. 6 in E-flat major lay unperformed until a year after his death. It is basically a choral mass, as its five soloists (soprano, mezzo, two tenors, and bass) are used sparingly. The festive orchestra includes strings, timpani, and full winds except for tuba and flute. Its overall shape and construction follow traditional practice—more so than his preceding setting in A-flat. In harmonic language and details of text setting, however, we encounter a different Schubert, a Romantic who produced telling dramatic effect through his use of frankly pictorial writing and daring chromatic digressions.