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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Feb. 9 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Chandos
  • ASIN: B000000AJH
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #90,592 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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1. Symphony No. 2 In E Flat Major: I. Lebhaft - Schmidt
2. Symphony No. 2 In E Flat Major: II.Allegretto con variazioni: Einfach und zart - I. In demselben Zeitmass II. Etwas fliessender III. Schnell und leicht IV. Schnell (Dasselbe Zeitmass) V. Sehr schnell VI. Langsam und ruhig VII. Sehr schnell, et al. - - Schmidt
3. Symphony No. 2 In E Flat Major: III. Finale: Langsam - Schmidt

Product Description

Schmidt (1874-1939) is an interesting musical figure in that he is a curious bridge from the 19th century to the 20th in Austro-Hungarian (or Czechoslovakian) music. After Mahler's death in 1911, Schmidt was considered to be Vienna's leading composer (even though Schoenberg lived nearby). Schmidt's music is ornately Romantic and has about it a fin de siecle ambience, a sense of the old aristocratic orders languishing in their twilight years. The Symphony 2 (of 1913) does not have a hint of the Great War to come. It's written in the grand manner of Strauss, but with a touch of Bruckner for structure. --Paul Cook

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa431d5c4) out of 5 stars 9 reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa430fe4c) out of 5 stars Schmidt in Straussian E-Flat! Nov. 22 2000
By Thomas F. Bertonneau - Published on
The four symphonies of Franz Schmidt (1874-1939) constitute an unexpected development in twentieth century music. Although they qualify as "conservative" in their idiom (indebted to Brahms while not uninfluenced by Wagner on the one hand and Reger on the other), they demonstrate an ingenious filling of old bottles with new wine. In the first two symphonies (1899 and 1913), the forms are baroque and early-classical. Thus, the First Movement of Symphony No. 1 follows the "form" of a French Overture (as in Bach's suites), complete with the dotted rhythms, but the harmonies might be those of Bruckner. Symphony No. 2, from the war years, wraps two sonata-allegro movements around a large-scale variations on a languorous Hungarian-sounding theme, mostly in slow tempi, but incorporating a faster scherzo. Schmidt calls on a large orchestra, making requirements similar to those stipulated by Richard Strauss in his biggest scores: Five clarinets, eight horns, four trumpets. The massive instrumentation matches the heroic key of the symsphony, E-Flat Major, the same as in Beethoven's Third and Strauss's "Ein Heldenleben." Listeners will often think of Strauss during the fifteen minutes or so of the First Movement, with its upward-surging motifs in the brass, dominated by the horns. (The quirky thought that flits through my mind as the movement plays is that this is what Bruckner would have sounded like if he had decided to write a Strauss tone-poem.) In the long Second Movement, the known reference is Max Reger, who specialized in gigantic theme-and-variation structures for orchestra. Schmidt liked this form: He wrote a free-standing "Variations on a Hussar's Song" for orchestra, a Variations on a Theme by Beethoven for Piano and Orchestra, and a Chaconne for organ, later orchestrated. The whole of the Fourth Symphony (1935) is a kind of variations. Woodwinds at first dominate the Second Movement, lending a wind-band, or outdoor, flavor to the music. The Scherzo ascends into some impressive, good-humored heroics. The Third Movement begins slowly but builds up to a vindication of the Symphony's assertive character. Järvi wins the competition among the three or four contending interpretations of this score by virtue of availability (Chandos does a good job of keeping its issues in the catalogue); but Music and Arts still lists a 1958 recording with Dmitri Mitropoulos and the Vienna Philharmonic (in spectacular monophonic high-fidelity, as I here solemnly attest); the Mitropoulos disc also contains a sumptuous "Verklärte Nacht" by Schoenberg. So go with Järvi, but pick up the Mitropoulos recording also if you can find it. [P.S. I see that this CD was issued eleven years ago. I add to my recommendation the tag, "better late than never!"]
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa4311a14) out of 5 stars I was there... May 3 2007
By Steven Antler - Published on
My wife and I were in attendance -- all the way up there in Orchestra Hall's gallery -- the night this performance was recorded.

I remember we looked over the programme and wondered to each other "Franz WHO? What's this all about? Drat!" We were in for a boring evening it seemed.

Yet roughly three minutes into the first movement (the second major brass crecendo I believe) my wife whispered "Hey -- this is great!" And so it was for the rest of the performance. Breathtaking.

The CD captures that night's sound of Orchestra Hall/CSO perfectly. Schmidt may not be for everyone, but he deserves a much wider audience. Get this CD if you want to (a) discover a new and somewhat offbeat musical personality and/or (b) show off your audio equipment to your friends by letting them hear the full glory of pre-renovation Orchestra Hall.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa45be0a8) out of 5 stars An Astounding Finale March 15 2001
By Shuji Ogino - Published on
Franz Schmidt was an approximate contemporary of Mahler and he actually played in an orchestra, where Mahler conducted. But he is not as famous as Mahler. His music unquestionablly is more German, influenced by Brahms, Wagner and possibly Bruckner. This second symphony has full of romantic legacy, more readily accessible, than e.g. his fourth symphony, for who like classical or romantic music. The finale is just amazing. The famous brass of the Chicago symphony roared to the climax and to the end. I respect Neeme Jarvi for recording such a wonderful, but rarely-performed piece.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa4314d80) out of 5 stars Got time for a good story...?? Aug. 2 2010
By Lawrence Rapchak - Published on
Franz Schmidt's exhuberant and deliriously life-affirming 2nd Symphony has finally begun to achieve some degree of recognition among enthusiasts of the early 20th-century Austro-Germanic repertoire. It's about time! For many years, the only way to hear this work was on a mid 70's LP import....a live performance by the Austrian Radio Orchestra conducted by Milan Horvat. I still have my carefully-preserved copy somewhere, for old time's sake. Fast forward to spring of 1989, when then-president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Henry Fogel was on the verge of realizing one of his life-long dreams: bestowing upon the musical world a brand new, state-of-the-art recording of the Schmidt 2nd, finally being played by an orchestra up to the task of this extremely demanding music (the string writing in the first movement's jolly, bustling toccata-like main theme is regarded as among the most difficult in the repertoire).

Mr Fogel had a long and turbulent association with the Schmidt 2nd. In the 1960's, as executive director of the Syracuse Symphony, he had worked for the better part of the decade to record the work with the orchestra's music director, Karl Kritz. By 1969, all agreed that the players were ready to tackle the work in performance AND record it for ABC/Westminster Records. After the final rehearsal, Maestro Kritz had begun to feel ill; he conducted the Friday night performance but, tragically, passed away before the 2nd and final performance. The recording project was scrapped.

Again we fast forward to Mr Fogel's tenure with the Chicago Symphony. Sometime during the late 80's, he had convinced Erich Leinsdorf to conduct the work with the CSO but, for reasons which have escaped me, the performances of the Schmidt 2nd--which had been officially announced in the CSO's season materials--were cancelled.

But Henry Fogel, clearly a man on a mission, then convinced Neeme Jarvi to conduct and record the work for Deutsche Grammophone in April of 1989. Everything was now in place for the great event...well, ALMOST everything (and this is where I stumbled into the picture). When I found out about the plan to record the Schmidt in concert, I called Henry Fogel and left my name and the reason for the call; I still recall his first words when he called back: "And how is the only other person in Chicago who has ever heard of the Schmidt 2nd Symphony?" And even though the enthusiasm was running high, there was trouble a-brewin': the CSO was $20K short in terms of financing for the project, and Henry was forced to cancel the deal with DGG. All appeared lost make a long story short...the $ was procurred from a private philanthropic foundation in Chicago, and Henry was able, at the very last minute, to make arrangements with Chandos to come in and record the live performances, using the expert services of the CSO's own in-house engineer, Mitchell Heller. I was there for the rehearsal and concerts (the program consisted of the Corigliano "Pied Piper" Fantasy w/Galway on the first half and the Schmidt after intermission), and the orchestra had a great time discovering and playing the heck out of this most challenging, neglected but JOYOUS work!

My only complaint about the recording is the fact that, in the final mastering, the overall volume level is WAY too low; you really have to crank it up to begin to appreciate the true glory of this great occasion. But in the end, Mr. Fogel's perseverance and belief in this wonderful symphony paid off. And now that you know "the rest of the story"..make sure and acquire the small piece of musical history that is encapsulated in this CD!
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa4311bf4) out of 5 stars Underrated Masterpiece Dec 8 2000
By Jeff Dunn - Published on
I have a vast collection of 20th-century CDs, and this is one of my 4 or 5 all-time favorites. If you like music of Brucknerian scope in a major key, without Mahlerian angst, and with a relatively brisk pace, this is the CD for you.
The first movement's second theme is one of the most joyous of the century. And the work's conclusion! Awesomely played by the Chicago Symphony's brass section, it makes the Great Gates of Kiev seem like the door to a P.O. box.
An absolute must for any fan of Straussian grandiloquence! Grab it before it goes out of print.