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Schmitt: Le Tragédie de Salomé, etc

Buffalo Philharmonic/JoAnn Falletta (Naxos)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

La tragédie de Salomé*^, Oriane et le Prince d’amour – suite; Musique sur l’eau*; Légende**
*Susan Platts (mezzo-soprano); **Nikki Chooi (violin); ^Women’s Choir of Buffalo; Buffalo Philharmonic/JoAnn Falletta
Naxos 8.574138   60:39 mins

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These four works, covering some 40 years of Schmitt’s long career, display his magisterial writing for orchestra, full of varied colours and equally satisfying in the quieter, more delicate moments. His symphonic poem La tragédie de Salomé, shortened in 1910 from the full ballet but scored for a larger orchestra, reminds us of Gustave Moreau’s many paintings of the princess and the terrible story surrounding her. It’s dedicated to Stravinsky and, although he was later scathing about Schmitt’s music, this followed a cooling between them over another matter. At the time Stravinsky was profoundly impressed by the work, and not least by the irregular rhythms that anticipated (influenced?) those in Le Sacre. They are given the right brutal treatment here, as are the rich orchestral colours.

The two later works, Oriane et le Prince d’Amour and Légende, are equally attractive, but lack the drive and concision of Salomé, Légende in particular tending to drift with no clear purpose. This is a first recording of the piece in its transcription for violin from the original saxophone, as is the utterly gorgeous orchestral version of the song ‘Musique sur l’eau’. Composed for voice and piano in 1898, Schmitt orchestrated this in 1903, the same year in which his friend and fellow Fauré pupil Ravel was working on his orchestral song cycle Shéhérazade, and the two soundworlds have much in common. Beautifully sung by Susan Platts, it is one of the highlights of this interesting disc.

Read more reviews of the latest Schmitt recordings here

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