Mass observation

Schubert’s late Mass in E-flat – the date on the score is 1828, the last year of the composer’s life – is his sixth essay in the setting of the liturgical text. It’s a large and fascinating work with moments of ravishing Schubertian beauty. Take this, for example, from the opening of the Sanctus:

Schubert: Mass in E-flat — Abbado, Vienna Philharmonic

Schubert’s heaven’s a rather stern, dark place, wouldn’t you agree?

Here are just the choral parts, so you can easily see the very unusual (for the time) chordal progression that Schubert uses to conjure up the angelic host and their thrice holy:


and below is a performance of the Mass by Hofmusikkapelle Wien conducted by Karl Böhm. Put aside an hour of your day to listen – you won’t regret it!!

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