Thus far, I’ve done some research on Schubert’s setting of Psalm 23.
Firstly, I will start by saying that this SSAA piece shows off Schubert’s talents well, but does not audibly fascinate me all that much. Maybe, I need to find a better recording than the Kings College Choir of Cambridge on NAXOS, but I doubt I’d find anything better. A lot of reviews of this piece have been written along with a lot of scholarship about the text, so it’s not a difficult piece to research. The ease of accessibility regarding the research materials makes it a good topic to delve into, however, I don’t find myself particularly opinionated about the piece in the first place – do I even like it? Should I argue for the other side instead?
In my paper, I’ve written that I think it is an appropriate setting of the piece, despite previous scholarship that implies it is not – am I only arguing this to play devil’s advocate against people who say it’s an inappropriate setting? I don’t like it when people try to dictate what religious texts can be set to specific kinds of music (a topic heard about in contemporary music, but less scholarship has been done on Christian rock, for example), and so I think I’m just arguing this point in order to fight against people trying to restrict “appropriate” church music to their opinions. Even if I don’t have a strong love of this piece, out of principle, I feel the need to argue for it’s validity as a sacred piece.
The more I look into the piece, the more I see how I can appreciate it and enjoy it – though I may not go out of my way to listen to it because I’m really feeling the need to listen to some small schoolboys sing a little higher than their ranges allow. I can’t say that’s a desire I’ve ever felt. However, I love the text and the message of Schubert’s setting (which I’m only beginning to understand now, after I’ve researched its’ form and the chiastic nature of the text).
In regard to more specific aspects of my research, I’ve been having trouble locating the paper called The Musical Transcript from 1854 – it has a review of the piece I’d like to be able to correctly reference, but at the moment I’m unable to locate it properly. This was a review of someone who really did not like the piece and apparently felt personally victimized by Franz Schubert for this setting of the piece.
My research has not been as difficult in finding sources (except that 150 year old paper), but has been more difficult in regards to my opinions. Am I playing devil’s advocate? Also, how do I make people care about this highly specific topic?