Ian Bostridge is an opera singer and a song recitalist. He is the author of Schubert’s Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession.
 (February 2018)

IN THE REVIEW

God’s Own Music

Luca della Robbia the Elder: detail from the Cantoria (choir loft), in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Florence, Italy, 1431–1438

O Sing unto the Lord: A History of English Church Music

by Andrew Gant

Messiah: The Composition and Afterlife of Handel’s Masterpiece

by Jonathan Keates
The Anglican choral tradition is one of the great successes of English cultural diffusion, to rank with Association Football (soccer), cricket, and the works of William Shakespeare. It has a cultural heft way beyond its parochial and very specific origins, and it turns up in the oddest places. The most incongruous example must surely be the upmarket gloss that Thomas Tallis’s forty-part motet Spem in Alium lends to a down-and-dirty scene in the film Fifty Shades of Grey.

The Magic in Schubert’s Songs

Gustav Klimt: Schubert at the Piano, 1899; destroyed by fire in May 1945

Franz Schubert: The Complete Songs

by Graham Johnson
Unlike Beethoven, Schubert wrote song compulsively, and achieved mastery in it as a teenager. It was as a composer of song that he first became famous; and his fecundity and sophistication in that genre, his gift for melody and his grasp of harmonic drama, both inner and outer, in turn lifted its status.