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There is a sense of frustration when reaching the end of this disc, as what was originally intended by Schubert as a three-act religious drama is a complete first act with a fragment of the second. Like his celebrated symphony it is unfinished, and all we have is a taster of what promised to be a majestic work. It certainly is dramatic, and this quality is combined with the glorious song-writing genius of the composer. The libretto isn’t given, but as Schubert portrays so skilfully this well-known biblical story, you don’t need one. The well-trained chorus has very little to do but the soloists are compelling, as is the orchestral playing, which is as vital to this work as the piano is to lieder. In this unfinished state there are very few performances, so it’s good to have this 1978 recording.

SHIRLEY RATCLIFFE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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