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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|
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
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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 until....to 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!
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.