Florent Schmitt is regarded as one of the main exponents of the French Dionaysiac style, but although he finds himself in such exalted company as that of Berlioz, Roussel and Messiaen, his music remains sedately popular. He lived a long life and in his time enjoyed a strong popularity particularly before the First World War but as the political and artistic turmoil of the 1930's started casting a shadow over Europe, his career had to face many a struggle.
When he died in 1958 aged 88, he still commanded respect, but his works were seldom performed. The three pieces on this disc are prime examples of Schmitt's influences, which include Richard Strauss, the Russian nationalistic school and Muslim music, amongst others. The composer's ear for pungent dissonances and masterly orchestration results in music of sublime opulence and extravagance brimming with fertile and at times, thrilling invention.
Fischer coaxes splendid performances from his forces in all three works and this beautifully presented disc should certainly give a boost to Schimtt's rather beleaguered reputation. The extensive notes by Calum Macdonald are essential reading for anyone interested in the Schmitt revival.
Copyright © 2007, Gerald Fenech