Thursday, April 27, 2017

Schmidt, Franz. (1874-1939) The String Quartets. Top recommendation.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First listen: 18-5-2010.
Second listen: 27-4-2017.
Label: Nimbus.
Recording dates: April 1995.
Recording venue: Concert Hall of the Nimbus Foundation, England.
Recording engineers: Technicians of Nimbus.
Running time: 77:53.
Classical relevance: Essential.
Reference performance.
Top recommendation.

Works performed: 
SQ in A major. (1925)
SQ in G major. (1929)

Works performed by:
Franz Schubert Quartet, Wien.

These quartets belong to the top in their genre. Not well known but masterworks nevertheless. Taught no less by Bruckner, this composer lived through the decadence of his time. Johannes Brahms received the musical outpourings of Schmidt's academic years, with approval. And he even received tuition from a forgotten master Robert Fuchs, who disliked the modern music even more as himself. Schmidt is one of the forgotten composers, and I mean totally forgotten. He did not follow the twelve tone serial technique, but looked instead for new ways in tonality, for which I praise him. He has a close tie with tradition, technically and harmonically, and as such he was a guardian of the legacy of Bruckner and Brahms. In many ways you could compare him with Max Reger. To conclude his music is firmly couched in the Classical Romantic tradition of the nineteenth century, and he almost never strayed from that point of view. And out of this he wrote two of the best SQ I ever heard. A master in kontrapunkt, he knitted together the most wonderful strings of notes one can imagine. Take the second movement of the A major, with the wonderful pizzicatos that generate a rhythmic drive out of this world, in which a gorgeous melody develops.  Powerful, yet gentle, poetic, yet lucidly realistic, this work does not stand in the shadow of any other composer, and should be part of the SQ literature with high praise.
The Molto tranquillo of the G major with a fine underlining yearning cello, gives you a very eerie feeling, so picturesque of the time in which it was written. Followed by a melancholy Adagio, that travels through the innermost of your emotions. Carefully modulated, this ensemble brings a harmony that captures the very spirit and spirituality of this movement. Think of the paintings of Klimt, the age also of Sigmund Freud, and you get quite a good picture. A time of radical change, in which Schmidt was a steady representative of a musical heritage betrayed by many. He was so not avant garde as many of the composers around him. Instead he is a very individual composer, who actually succeeded in creating a new tonality, and these SQ are a perfect example of that. Out of one tradition, totally different and alternative angles can arise, or so you will, interpretations from the same roots. He is an intellectual, and certainly philosophical in his approach, for me that is a fact, for his music arises out of an acute awareness of his time and what was happening around him, culturally, musically, and politically. He paints a picture of his time in all three respects. The performance I rate as reference, the music gets a top recommendation, and the recording matches the music. The very awareness of the music from this time is certainly brought into your home by this ensemble.







Salvatore, Giovanni. (c.1610-1688) Works for Harpsichord and Organ, plus a Missa.

New acquisition. Date of purchase: November 2017. First listen: 22-11-2017. Label: Glossa. Recording dates: October 1998 & June 1999...