Deutsche Messe d872

Schubert: Deutsche Messe d872, arr. F. Burkhardt. Doblinger/Universal


The Deutsche Messe, originally for SATB with organ and/or wind band plus timpani, is not even a low mass. It is a rather spiritless batch of eight hymns by Johann Neumann, a Viennese professor who immortalized his vapid verses by paying Schubert to set them. But the resulting blend of milk and water with bread and butter has always seemed un­appetizing, even to the most insatiable Schubertians. There's no telling what tastes are meant to be catered for by this transposed version, cooked up for TTBB with two horns, two trombones and timpani, or else a cappella. The latter seems a far more sensible arrangement, though the bass 3rds must still sound rather muddy. A helpful editorial note explains that in unaccompanied performance the singers need not pause during the non-existent instrumental postludes. The musicology is similarly earnest but otiose. The brief untranslated Vorwort announces the arranger's own discovery that a previous male-voice version of D872 once attributed to Johann Herbeck is in fact by Johann Kloss. Further, a similar arrangement was once made by Ferdinand Schubert, a sample of whose undistinguished (yet hardly distinguishable) work is also included, for no very clear reason. The value of this whole enterprise seems rather exaggerated, like its price.


The Musical Times, Dec. 1978 © the estate of eric sams