FRANZ SCHMIDT: Symphony No. 4 in C Major; Intermezzo from “Notre Dame” – Beethoven Orchester Bonn/ Stefan Blunier – MD&G Live multichannel (2+2+2) SACD MDG 937 1631-6, 53:31 [Distr. by E1] ****:
Poor Franz Schmidt’s eccentric teacher once said of him, “No-one called Schmidt should become an artist.” The teacher wasn’t far off, because we don’t hear of Schmidt or hear his music much at all today. He composed in the style of Brahms and Bruckner, and although he lived until 1939 in Vienna he stayed away from the 12-tone avant-gardists. Seeing his death date I thought to myself “Well, he got out at a good time, considering,” but not so. He accepted a commission from the Nazis to compose a cantata titled The German Resurrection, — though he never completed it before he died.
Schmidt said of his Fourth Symphony, “That is how I imagine my death,” but it’s not all a morose work. It has a lovely trumpet theme which is carried thru the whole symphony and has a dreamy, rather life-affirming mood to it. The first movement is by far the longest, and the whole piece has a grand design. It sounds something like updated Brahms. The four movements are played without pauses between, the second movement Adagio—with a funeral march rhythm—being a requiem for his daughter who had recently died. The Scherzo ends with a recap of the first movement.
The Intermezzo is from Schmidt’s first opera of 1902-04. He initially conceived his music symphonically, so the piece does not suffer from the lack of a vocal part.
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A lesser known jazz pioneer gets a re-mastered vinyl upgrade.