"Brilliant Classics' "Masterworks" series, if you can get them cheaply (and currently they go for about $1/CD from Amazon's France Web site), are a great way to amass a significant library of the works of several great computers. The production values and the performances themselves are uneven, and the interpretations are not always historically-informed (unlike the bulk of Brilliant's "Complete Editions" of the works of Bach and Mozart). But there are numerous gems in the rough in The Masterworks, and the economic value is unsurpassed, even if you were to throw away half of the CDs in each set.
You're unlikely to throw away much of this Schubert collection though. This seems to be the finest of the Masterworks sets, with a succession of solid, often first-rate performances of most of the major Schubert works. Here's what you get:
- The symphonies, performed by The Hanover Band in a historically-informed style. Very interesting performances perhaps marred by an odd recording balance that makes the woodwinds sound distant. Takes up four CDs - The six Latin masses. Also the Deutsche Messe in the version with wind instruments. Five CDs in all - Edison Denisov's completion of Schubert's unfinished dramatic work Lazarus (2 CDs, Helmuth Rilling's premier recording) - The last four string quartets (including the Quartettsatz) with #9 thrown in. Also the octet, piano quintet ("The Trout"), string quintet and both piano trios. In short all the canonical chamber works. Performances are strong, and well recorded - Two CDs of violin/piano duets, including Op. 137 and Op. 162 - 19 of the 21 "canonical" piano sonatas (missing #7 and #12) as well as the Moments Musicaux, Impromptus, German Dances, Wanderer Fantasy and several other piano works, 11 CDs in all. As with the chamber music, the performances and recordings are strong, often stunning - Two CDs of piano duets, including the Divertissements and D. 617 - Song cycles: Die Schöne Müllerin, Winterreise, Schwanengesang, and four CDs of standalone songs, including such "standards" as Erlkönig and Gretchen am Spinnrade. The singers are a bit uneven here, ranging from standouts Robert Holl, Deitrich Fischer-Dieskau and John Shirley-Quirk to the somewhat shrill Arleen Augér
Missing from the collection is Rosamunde, and a number of famous songs: Die Forelle (The Trout), Death and the Maiden, Ellens Gesang III (the so-called Ave Maria, D. 839), Der Hirt auf dem Felsen and Der Wanderer. But you do have almost all the important instrumental works, and most of the vocal works generally considered to be essential, with some padding added in the form of minor works such as the parochial Deutsche Messe, the German Dances, and the modernist-informed completion of Lazarus by the 20th Century Russian composer Denisov.
As with the other Masterworks sets, there are no program notes. You'll need to do your own research. Answers.com is a good starting point for Schubert compositions. There are also no song texts or translations provided, so again you'll need to track down your own. Try "The Lied and Art Song Texts Page" for lieder lyrics and translations. Hunt down a good price on this collection, browsing one of Amazon's European sites if necessary, and treat yourself to many hours of lovely music for the cost of a modest night out."
Great way to jumpstart a schubert collection
Northside777 | Sacramento, CA USA | 12/19/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Hartmut Holl, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Stephanie Brown, and Jaime Laredo as well as the Stuttgart Bach Collegium performing Schubert are hardly "left-behind artists and ensembles" as the previous naysayer states. These are licensed from major label releases and from the original masters issued at a bargain price, especially for the number of discs you get. Sound quality ranges from good to excellent. Good for all Schubertians and anyone who wants to jumpstart a Schubert collection."
Cameron Parkes | 12/19/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One of the best in "The Masterpices" series. Many of the discs (the symphonies in particular) were licensed from Nimbus and other full-line labels. Not all that long ago these discs would have set you back $18 to $20 a piece. That said, I still wouldn't part with my Hyperion collection. 40 CD's at this price... you can't go wrong."
The best of Schubert!
atentale | Qubec, CA | 12/15/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love this box set of 40 cds of Schubert. I am listening to the 21 st right now as I write this short review. I recommend this product with all my sincerity. The performing artists are just wonderful! Good listening!"