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Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013

Schubert’s Sublime Mass

MSO to perform a late work by the great composer

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The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s upcoming performance of Schubert’s Mass No. 6 in E flat major for vocalists, chorus and orchestra is a seldom-performed work ranked among classical music’s finest choral compositions. Its romantically inspired melodiousness gently rivals the more majestic vocal works of Mozart and Beethoven.

Based on the format of a Roman Catholic mass but with highly original digressions, the beautiful melodic content of the music is all Schubert. There is no heaven-storming maelstrom here. Schubert’s final plea for heavenly grace, composed in 1828, was influenced in part by his growing admiration for the richer harmonics of late Beethoven’s contrapuntally based style but applied with a gentler tonality.

The mass debuted posthumously, joining ranks with Schubert’s last three great piano sonatas among the sublime swan songs from the pen of this composer. Lovingly combining romantic feeling with liturgical grandeur, Mass No. 6 ranks them among the finest religious works of the period.

Mozart’s Symphony No. 39, an infectiously hummable late work by the master, will also be performed by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra under conductor Hans Graf, Nov. 22-24, at Uihlein Hall of the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, 929 N. Water St. For tickets, call 414-291-7605 or go to mso.org.