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Vincent Larderet Records Florent Schmitt’s Piano Music for Naxos

August 4, 2009

Between 8 and 10 July 2009 at Potton Hall, Vincent Larderet recorded a number of significant piano works by the French composer Florent Schmitt. Schmitt, who studied under Massenet and Fauré and won the Prix de Rome in 1900, was a fine pianist whose music for this instrument embodies many of the qualities of his better known orchestral music. A master of musical styles (his music ranges from lush Impressionism often weighted with a complexity associated with German Romantic/early Modernist music or enlivened with striking exoticism), Schmitt’s star has waned although, like Rachmaninov, Richard Strauss and other 20th-century composers who self-consciously positioned themselves outside the avant-garde, interest is being rekindled in his remarkable output.

The young French pianist Vincent Larderet’s eclectic repertoire stretches from Scarlatti to Boulez. He also ardently favors lesser-known composers such as Scriabin, De Falla, Schmitt and Szymanowski, daring choices for a pianist today. ‘Vincent Larderet is an excellent pianist and musician. What's more, he has great stage presence. His talent deserves the attention of anybody who cares about music,’ remarks the pianist Bruno-Leonardo Gelber. Carlos Cebro is equally impressed: ‘With his exceptional gift, Vincent Larderet can tackle every style of music. His technique, musicality and mastery of the piano, allied to a fine artistic sensibility, profoundly touch the listener. His youthful ardour enables him to express a whole gamut of feelings and colours.’

Vincent Lardaret writes of the Naxos recording session:

‘My recording sessions for Naxos from the 8 to10 of July 2009 were very fine and done under good conditions. I have recorded over three days these Schmitt masterpieces: Ombres Op. 64, Mirages Op. 70 No. 1 “Et Pan, au fond des blés lunaires, s’accouda” à la mémoire de C. DEBUSSY, No. 2  “La tragique chevauchée”  and La Tragédie de Salomé in the composer’s own piano version. This work is a world first recording.

The acoustic of Potton Hall is really superb for this music because the acoustic is smooth and clear. There is not too much reverberation, it’s clean. Recording Producer Michael Ponder was really interesting to work with. I like to do long takes to feel the continuity of the lyric lines and the beautiful poetic colors of this music. I always try to play like a live performance because the repetition of a recording session could kill the music and emotion. After I have played the piece without stopping, I listen the recording on headphone and then replay some different parts of the score. In all these scores I want us to feel the emotion and amazing sensitivity of the writing of this composer: relationships between the tempi, phrasing, clarity,  etc.

‘Like Karol Szymanowski’s, the piano writing of Florent Schmitt is very difficult, polyphonic and orchestral in character. La Tragédie de Salomé is a particularly challenging work to play. It must sound like orchestral playing. Schmitt was a fantastic concert pianist and his piano version is not a ‘transcription’ but a valid version in its own right.

On the last day I recorded the N°2 of Mirages “La Tragique chevauchée” in about an hour and thirty minutes. So I came back to the first part (Prélude) of La Tragédie de Salomé and to the first piece of Mirages so that we would have alternative takes showing different ways of playing and feeling these sections. Each time, I tried to play with much liberty and poetry.’

A number of video clips of Vincent Larderet are available for viewing on his website.

The Florent Schmitt CD will be Vincent Larderet’s Naxos début disc.

Florent Schmitt Biography & Discography


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