One of my collecting quirks is that I'm always looking for treasure in the refuse. Finding good or great things that have been overlooked or prematurely dismissed is a fine if lonely pleasure. Often the worst thing that can happen to a work is that it be given a "good enough" performance, well enough played and recorded to be considered acceptable, but lacking the spark or understanding that could communicate the work's essential virtues. God help the obscure composer if these mediocre efforts are taken by critics to be "reference" recordings.
Schubert is not so obscure, of course. But like Mozart he wrote so much that only a small proportion of his work could be called "canonical". The major choral works have been recorded a few times but their reputation is not great. I have EMI's 11 CD box set of Sawallisch's recordings, and am probably not alone in being underwhelmed. It might possibly be the works, but my overall impression from these recordings is of ponderous lethargy, a quality I had not previously associated with Schubert.
So I am wondering - has some other listener wandered these byways before me, and heard the other recordings? I have little interest in the aggressive approaches of Harnoncourt and Weil, but there is a set of the masses on Capriccio (not to be confused with the single SACD) conducted by Robev, Knothe and Creed, and a compilation of recordings on Brilliant. It would be especially valuable if someone was in a position to weigh and compare the modern instrument recordings, and offer some sort of judgement.
Thanks. I am not optimistic - but I am hopeful!
'Art doesn't need philosophers. It just needs to communicate from soul to soul.' Alejandro Jodorowsky