Much of my conducting career has been devoted to performing and recording little-known works of the past, unjustly neglected jewels, inexplicably forgotten treasures. But once in a while the musicians of the Buffalo Philharmonic and I discover repertoire of such astonishing originality and depth that it is a complete mystery as to why it has languished, rarely heard.
Such is the case with French composer Florent Schmitt. His music, quintessentially French, moves beyond impressionism into a lush and tangled world of dark poetry and sumptuous story-telling. Rhapsodic, brooding and startlingly beautiful, Schmitt's language is deeply personal – passionate yet extraordinarily detailed, sophisticated and elusive.
A student of Massenet and Fauré, winner of the Prix de Rome in 1900 and friend to Ravel and Satie, Florent Schmitt had a style that blended influences and inspiration from wherever the spirit took him. His incidental music for Antony and Cleopatra originally formed ballet scenes between the acts, evoking and enhancing Shakespeare’s saga of rivalry between the Roman Empire and Egypt, and the tragic consequences of star-crossed love. Schmitt’s The Haunted Palace follows the nuances of Mallarmé’s translation from Edgar Allan Poe in lush orchestration and a sound-scape of enigmatic symbolist imagery.
Listen to an extract from
Antoine et Cléopâtre, Suite No. 2: III. Le tombeau de Cléopâtre
Listen to a podcast of JoAnn Falletta
in conversation with Peter Hall about this
About the Artists
JoAnn Falletta serves as music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic and Virginia Symphony and is the principal guest conductor of the Brevard Music Center of North Carolina. She has guest conducted over a hundred orchestras in North America, and many of the most prominent orchestras in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. She served as principal conductor of the Ulster Orchestra from 2011 to 2014, with whom she made her début at London’s prestigious Proms with the orchestra and recorded music of Gustav Holst, E.J. Moeran and John Knowles Paine. A champion of American music, she has presented over five hundred works by American composers including 110 world premières.
Founded in 1935, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra is Buffalo’s leading cultural ambassador and presents more than 120 Classics, Pops and Youth Concerts each year. The BPO has toured widely across the United States, Europe and Canada. During the tenure of JoAnn Falletta, the BPO has rekindled its distinguished history of radio broadcasts and recordings. The orchestra's Naxos recording of composer John Corigliano’s Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan (8.559331), featuring soprano Hila Plitmann, won GRAMMYs® in two categories of the three for which it was nominated: Classical Vocal Performance and Classical Contemporary Composition.
Other recordings by JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic
“Naxos’s sonics are full, three-dimensional, and vibrant—all the better to show off the orchestra’s assured, resplendent playing...Falletta’s interpretation perfectly captures Strauss’s combination of rollicking humor, schmaltz, and sublime lyricism.”
– American Record Guide
“the characterful and exceptionally disciplined playing of the Buffalo Philharmonic under Falletta, and the impressive sound of the Naxos recording…you have a disc that’s impossible not to recommend.”
“This is an important recording for several reasons. First, it contains the finest version yet recorded of Glière’s epic Third Symphony, “Il’ya Muromets.” Second, it defines once and for all how the piece is supposed to go.” – ClassicsToday.com
“...JoAnn Falletta with her Buffalo Philharmonic forces has once again hit the jackpot, both with Phantasmagoria and especially with the Violin Concerto, which, as played by Ludwig, deserves at least equal billing beside Bell. Strongly recommended.”
Works for piano duo and piano solo by Florent Schmitt
“Schmitt’s extensive oeuvre for two pianists could have no better musicians, and I eagerly await the remaining three volumes in this series.” – American Record Guide
“Kasparov and Lutsyshyn play with great clarity and precision, carefully bringing out the intrinsic two-piano nature of the music’s construction.”
– MusicWeb International
“Technical perfection, synchronicity, collaboration as well as a warm and sonorous timbre constitute an interpretation which is as perfect as the music itself.” – Classica
“Collectors who already have the first three instalments in the series should not hesitate to acquire this one, and those who have faltered thus far should waste no time and follow suit.” – MusicWeb International
“Larderet’s skilled and persuasive advocacy ... certainly deserves to be applauded. Schmitt makes punishing demands on the performer, which Larderet meets in spades.” – Fanfare