Schmidt / Patzak / Wiener / Moralt - Book With Seven Seals Symphony No. 4


Format: CD
Rel. Date: 04/19/2024
UPC: 758871502627

Book With Seven Seals Symphony No. 4
Artist: Schmidt / Patzak / Wiener / Moralt
Format: CD

More Info:

SOMM Recordings honors Franz Schmidt, one of the great symphonic composers of the 20th century, on the 150th anniversary of his birth with this double-disc set featuring two of his masterworks. Revered in his day in his native Austria as the nation's leading composer and an elite teacher, cellist, and pianist, his name will not be known to many. This is due, at least in part, to a perceived association with the Third Reich (against which there is ample evidence). This first release on CD of two premiere recordings, meticulously produced and restored by Lani Spahr, showcases Schmidt's unique harmonic language, exceptional contrapuntal skill, and mastery of form, qualities which prompted Hans Pfitzner to call Schmidt's Symphony No. 4 "nearer perfection than Bruckner, more honest than Richard Strauss and more original than Reger". Born in Pressburg (Bratislava) in 1874, Schmidt's teachers (piano) included his mother (herself a student of Liszt), Rudolf Mader, Ludwig Burger and Theodor Leschetizky; (cello) Karl Udel and Ferdinand Hellmesberger; and (theory) Felicián Moczik and Robert Fuchs. He was, for a time, principal cellist in the Vienna Philharmonic under Mahler. While his symphonic output is clearly in the structural mold of Schubert, Brahms, and Bruckner, his harmonic language, while showing influences of Strauss, Mahler, and early Schoenberg, is clearly his own. A near fatal heart attack in the years following the success of his Fourth Symphony prompted the composer to put his efforts into a major religious work. His setting of eight chapters of the last book of the New Testament in Martin Luther's German became The Book with Seven Seals (From the Revelation of St. John the Divine), not through-composed but constructed of clearly defined sections in the great 19th-century oratorio tradition. The success of this summum opus and his stature in Austria drew the attention of the Nazis, who commissioned Schmidt to write a cantata on partisan texts (which he abandoned, only for it to be completed by a student and nevertheless performed under Schmidt's name). With the fading of this unfortunate association a growing number of prominent conductors (the Järvis, Welser-Möst, Luisi, Bychkov) have begun to revive performances of his music in our time. Lani Spahr's previous SOMM releases include the lauded four-volume sets Vaughan Williams Live (ARIADNE 5016, 5018-20) and Elgar Remastered (SOMMCD 261-4), as well as Elgar from America, Volume 3 (Ariadne 5015-2), which garnered a Gramophone Editor's Choice for "superb audio restorations [bringing] performances fully to life".