This piece is altogether simpler than what has gone before. If there is some small possibility that Gott im Ungewitter dates from 1828, it seems very likely that Gott der Weltschöpfer is by the composer when much younger. If the blazing C major of triumphant religious conviction reminds us of the grandiose choral setting of Die Allmacht this piece is much less ornate – although it is typical of the mature Schubert to modulate from C major to C flat major within the space of ten bars. The accompaniment is scarcely more than a doubling of the vocal parts relieved by only a handful of more adventurous pianistic details. The three chords of introduction are almost painfully plain (one can sympathize with Mandyczewski for seeing in this the music of transition, but we are not even sure whether they are genuine Schubert, or inserted by the publisher Czerny). There is a sign, here and there, of the old-style striding basses which remind us of Das grosse Halleluja from 1816 but on the whole this effective music eschews fussy chromaticism. The plunging basses which move the music from C major to F before the repeat of the words ‘flieg’ auf, zu Gott’ suggest the movement of flight. But even illustrative touches such as this are rare. The purpose of this music is to convey a sort of religious immensity. In this mood, Schubert draws on block harmonies rather than resorting to the harmonic wiles more typical of his art. Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven achieve blazing moments like this in the finales of their religious works. Schubert’s teacher Salieri would have claimed to have learned such powerful simplicity from Gluck, whose operas were, of course, also a great influence on the young Schubert.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1999
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