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SCHMIDT Symphony No. 1
Notre Dame, Act I: Introduction, Interlude and Carnival Music
Malmö Symphony/Sinaisky

Naxos 8.570828

It's a long time since the symphonies of Franz Schmidt (1874-1939) have come my way, and this Swedish recording of no 1 is a reminder of their unjust neglect. No 1 (not an early work) did well at its premiere in 1902.

It was fascinating to hear it on the background of a deep affection for his later works, especially the piano quintets. The Naxos notes writer looks back to Brahms, Bruckner and baroque influences, but I found it replete with turns of phrase and harmonic expression characteristic of the Schmidt I love. Most questionable is the finale with its learned contrapuntal and fugal construction, rising to a peroration built upon a chorale, all coming together in a grandiose climax which was not to my taste.

Of the opera excerpts, the Interlude is particularly characterstic of Schmidt's romantic maturity "with little hint of the baroque influences in his Frst Symphony" (Adam Binks).

It is well worth acquiring as a Naxos bargain, confidently played by the Malmö Orchestra under Sinaisky, who is a popular conductor in Britain. It has tempted me to revisit the other symphonies, probably seeking out the Jarvi/Chicago/Detroit Chandos set.

Peter Grahame Woolf