Sylvain Cambreling conducts Schubert — With Jonas Kaufmann, Juliane Banse, Hermine May, Deon van der Walt, and Hermann Prey

NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester at Zwiefalten Abbey

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Juliane Banse — Soprano

Hermine May — Alto

Deon van der Walt — Tenor

Jonas Kaufmann — Tenor

Hermann Prey — Bass

NDR Chor

Roberto Seidel — Chorus Master

NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester

Sylvain Cambreling — Conductor

Program notes

Hear a young Jonas Kaufmann in one of Schubert’s greatest works!

When we hear the emotional depth, formal mastery, and uncanny knack for melody that characterize Schubert’s symphonic and choral works, it is easy to imagine a mature composer. But like Mozart who died at 35, Schubert condensed a remarkably prolific output into his brief 31 years—almost as if he knew his time was tragically limited.

His beloved “Unfinished” Symphony—in just two movements, not the standard four—may have actually been intended that way. Although an ostensible draft of a third movement scherzo has been identified, some scholars believe it was discarded by the composer before publication. And the work speaks for itself as it stands, especially in this exquisite rendering by the NDR Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Sylvain Cambreling, who conveys the masterpiece’s melancholy affect that some see as autobiographical, given what we know about the composer’s fragile health and little luck in love.

Cambreling rounds out the program with the Viennese master’s final mass, a monumental missa solemnis in E-flat. Inspired by Beethoven—whose funeral Schubert attended as a torch bearer—and reminiscent of Bach, Haydn and Mozart, it also seems almost to prefigure Verdi’s Requiem and Bruckner’s grandiose masses with its harmonic richness, contrapuntal ingenuity, and alternation of choirs, solo vocals, and orchestral sections. Discover this wonder of sacred music in a 1997 performance from the Cathedral of Zwiefalten, with an impressive setting of choir, orchestra and soloists—including a certain superstar tenor, early on in his meteoric career…

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