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Henry Fogel
Fanfare, November 2010

Franz Schmidt’s Second Symphony is one of his greatest works, and it receives its most convincing recorded performance yet with Vassily Sinaisky. Sinaisky gets the difficult balances and textures just right, and also the right mixture of long and supple line and rhythmic tautness.

John Terauds
Toronto Star, March 2010

The work is a compositional wonder where Schmidt takes a musical theme and plays with it through three movements and 49 minutes. The most beautiful is the middle movement, which is, essentially a theme and variations that leaves no instrument in the orchestra unattended.

Sinaisky and his orchestra give a gorgeously rich and measured interpretation that does full justice to a complex orchestration…

Organist Anders Johnsson does a wonderful job with this technically challenging piece…

Henry Fogel
Fanfare, March 2010

Naxos provides very informative and intelligent notes, and a well-balanced, clean recording. This is an early Want List candidate for me.

Don O’Connor
American Record Guide, March 2010

The recording is full-bodied, with plenty of detail. In fact, just for kicks, I gave it a spin on a boom-box; and even there it sounded terrific. Add the meaty coupler, and at full price this release would be a contender. At a budget price, the decision makes itself.

To read the complete review, please visit American Record Guide online.

Bob McQuiston
Classical Lost and Found, January 2010

SCHMIDT, F.: Symphony No. 1 / Notre Dame, Act I: Introduction, Interlude and Carnival Music (Malmo Symphony, Sinaisky) 8.570828
SCHMIDT, F.: Symphony No. 2 / Fuga Solemnis (Malmo Symphony, Sinaisky) 8.570589

A big round of applause should also go to organist Anders Johnsson as well as the MSO brass and percussion sections for their stirring account of the Fuga Solemnis. We owe them and Naxos thanks for providing us with the only recording of this rarity currently available on disc.

The locations for all these recordings were in Malmö, Sweden. The symphonic selections were done in the concert hall, and the organ piece, St. Petri (St. Peter’s) Church. Both were ideal venues with just the right amount of reverberation to allow these opulent scores breathing space without any blurring. The Naxos engineers have taken full advantage of this, giving us impressive soundstages, an orchestral timbre that’s more musical than analytic…

Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb International, January 2010

The organ begins its nobly reserved soliloquy whilst the orchestral forces are only allowed to enter with their stirring blocks of sound at around the mid-point of its 14 minute length. Again a stirring climax is ensured by Schmidt and whilst this one sounds a touch forced, its impact can’t be doubted.

Once again these forces prove to be fully conversant with Schmidt’s own personalised brand of late-romanticism, and its allied harmonic richness. The results are admirably bracing and sympathetic, and have been excellently recorded by the Naxos team.

Richard Whitehouse
International Record Review, December 2009

The sound is not far short of Naxos’ best…those who are unfamiliar with or remain sceptical towards Schmidt’s music should acquire both of these discs forthwith.

Mark Pappenheim
BBC Music Magazine, December 2009

Vassily Sinaisky and his Swedish orchestra excel.

Lawson Taitte
The Dallas Morning News, November 2009

Austrian composer Franz Schmidt’s music might remind you a little of his elders, Gustav Mahler or Richard Strauss—but it’s less neurotically charged than the former, less chromatic and slithery than the latter. This massive Symphony No. 2 begins in a pastoral vein, though the long first movement eventually turns dramatic. A complex, often jaunty set of variations follows, then a finale built on a majestic chorale tune.

Vladimir Sinaisky’s Malmö Symphony Orchestra may not have a big reputation, but it plays superbly, and the forceful sound is a plus.

Guy Rickards
Gramophone, November 2009

A splendid second instalment to Sinaisky’s Schmidt symphony series

Sinaisky and the Malmö Symphony get into the swing of Schmidt’s freewheeling invention and with a splendid recording from Naxos…at budget price this is self-recommending. The price edges them past Fabio Luisi on Querstand (not the easiest label to track down) and there is the added bonus of the late, celebratory Fuga solemnis for organ, brass and percussion (1937), written to inaugurate a new instrument in Vienna. Even if one has the symphony already, I urge you to try this newcomer. One cannot have too much Schmidt., October 2009

Schmidt, a fine but neglected composer, builds the symphony around a single basic theme that is stated by violins and clarinets at the start and subsequently varied, pulled apart, upended and turned inside out and every which way for nearly 50 minutes. Schmidt was fond of large orchestras, and his Symphony No. 2 uses a very big one indeed, including eight horns, a contrabass tuba, four timpani (plus bass drum and side drum), lots of percussion, and winds and strings galore. The work is in three movements—the typical form of a piano sonata, which is what Schmidt originally conceived it to be—and includes a highly impressive set of variations in the middle. This is a big work in every sense, sprawling and intense, thoroughly Romantic in sensibility, and very difficult to play (especially for the strings)…Vassily Sinaisky conducts stylishly and the players sound ardent…Also on this CD is one of the works that explains Schmidt’s modern-day neglect. Fuga Solemnis is, on its face, a fascinating piece, requiring very considerable dexterity by the organist (Anders Johnsson does a fine job) and a conductor’s ability to balance a highly unusual array of instruments: six trumpets, six horns, three trombones, tuba, timpani and tam-tam. This was Schmidt’s last organ work, completed in 1937, and shows a sure mastery of form and orchestration. Hearing it in a strictly musical context is a highly involving experience.

Robert R. Reilly, October 2009

I had high praise for the opening salvo, a recording of Symphony No. 1 [8.570828], in Naxos’s new traversal of Franz Schmidt’s four symphonies. If anything, the new release of Symphony No. 2 is even better. The Malmo Symphony Orchestra, under Vassily Sinaisky, gets inside this sumptuous music and reveals its late harvest ripeness in all its glory. I love Schmidt because his expression of the overripeness of Viennese culture in the early 20th century is rich but not decadent. He really is the last efflorescence of that extraordinary time before its (audible) decay. Sinaisky and the Malmo forces really know what they are about in this music. If you have never heard Schmidt before, start here.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, September 2009

If Franz Schmidt’s symphonic scores could continue to receive such superb performances and recordings, he would soon be elevated to a place alongside, Richard Strauss and Mahler.  It was the First Symphony [8.570828] that brought him to Viennese attention as a composer at the age of twenty-eight, but it was to be another eleven years before the Second was completed. By that time he had added another rich layer of sumptuous romanticism to the point of eroticism. It is shaped in three substantial movements, the second, and most extended, being shaped as a theme and variations, in mood not dissimilar to Reger. Maybe resorting to the well-tried formula of a fugue as the opening to the finale was a miscalculation as the work’s temperature drops, and we are too close to the end before it comes to life again. But when it does the final pages are suitably highly charged. The release is completed by the Fuga Solemnis for organ, sixteen wind instruments and percussion, the commission for the piece to mark the opening of the new organ at the Vienna Broadcasting Station in 1937 coming at a politically emotive time. As with the finale of the symphony, it takes time to warm up, but the end is quite cataclysmic. Anders Johnsson is the fine soloist. The Malmo Symphony is a class act, and with the Russian conductor, Vassily Sinaisky, pacing the symphony with thrusting urgency in the opening movement, it is playing of imposing weight. The engineering is of demonstration standing. A major release.

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