, February 2010
Listeners approaching Franz Schubert’s choral music for the first time would do best to begin with his mighty late masses, then turn to his lyrical early masses, then finally hear the miscellaneous choral music recorded here. Even though these works are among his least significant choral pieces, they are likely to prove wholly satisfying and perhaps even deeply enjoyable. The first disc features sacred choral works, and includes the Magnificat, the Salve Regina, the Stabat Mater, and the German Mass. The second disc features secular choral music, and includes the composer’s settings of Ständchen, Gesang der Geister über den Wassern, and Die Allmacht. The third and most unusual disc features male choruses, a particularly rich vein in the composer’s oeuvre, and includes Nachtgesang im Walde and Nachthelle, plus such rarities as Trinklied and Jagdlied. The performers vary from disc to disc, and even from track to track, but they feature such skilled choruses as Rundfunkchor Berlin, Männerchor des Rundfunks Chores Leipzig, Regensburger Domspatzen, and even the Wiener Sängerknaben, and all are nearly beyond reproach. Among the most rewarding tracks are the radiant Nachthelle, the exalted Die Allmacht, and the choral version of the Ave Maria, complete with boy alto. Though recorded in a variety of locations over number of years, the digital sound is consistently clear and clean, if not always vivid and immediate.