DESKTOP
TABLET (max. 1024px)
MOBILE (max. 640px)
Return to Top
Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

RECORD KEEPING | Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra/JoAnn Falletta: Florent Schmitt

By Paul E. Robinson on February 27, 2016

The combination of a Buffalo Philharmonic in fine form and Falletta’s imaginative programming makes for satisfying music-making.

Florent Schmitt: Anthony & Cleopatra, Suites No. 1 & 2 - The Haunted Palace, Op. 49
Florent Schmitt: Anthony & Cleopatra, Suites No. 1 & 2 – The Haunted Palace, Op. 49

Florent Schmitt: Antoine et Cléopâtre – Six Symphonic Episodes in Two Suites After Shakespeare. Le Palais hanté Op. 49 – Symphonic Study for “The Haunted Castle” by Edgar Allan Poe. Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra/JoAnn Falletta. Naxos. Total Time: 59.43.

The city of Buffalo is only 100 miles from Toronto, and as I mentioned in a previous article, it has an excellent orchestra with a distinguished history. Its conductors have included such luminaries as William Steinberg, Josef Krips, Lukas Foss, Michael Tilson Thomas, Semyon Bychkov, and the present music director, JoAnn Falletta.  Steinberg and Krips brought authority in the German and Austrian classics, and Foss brought his compositional genius as well as a dedication to the newest developments in contemporary music. Tilson Thomas was a young conducting phenomenon when he went to Buffalo – a protégée of Leonard Bernstein, no less – and reveled in exploring a wide repertoire. Semyon Bychov was exemplary in Russian music – I remember vividly a great performance of the Shostakovich Fifth – and Falletta has shown a great affinity for lesser-known music. It is also noteworthy that, along with Marin Alsop in Baltimore, Falletta is one of the few female conductors of a major orchestra in North America.

Over the years, I have heard many concerts in Buffalo’s Kleinhans Music Hall, and I have rarely been disappointed. I urge Toronto music-lovers to do the same. The combination of a Buffalo Philharmonic in fine form and Falletta’s imaginative programming makes for satisfying music-making.

Naxos’ ongoing program with the Buffalo Philharmonic has new releases coming at the rate of one or two each year. Among the most important are two discs devoted to the music of Austrian composer Marcel Tyberg (1893-1944), who died in Auschwitz at the age of 51. Tyberg’s music, which was championed by Rafael Kubelik, who performed it often, deserves to be better-known.

This latest Naxos release features little-known music by French composer Florent Schmitt (1870-1958), who studied with Massenet and Fauré and was one of his Maurice Ravel’s closest friends.

Schmitt’s incidental music for Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra dates from a 1920 production of the play at the Paris Opéra. What a production that must have been. Can you imagine a production of the play with over one hundred musicians in the pit? Our own Stratford Festival mounts first-class Shakespeare productions year in and year out, but it rarely hires more than half a dozen musicians to play the incidental music. Schmitt’s music is truly symphonic and seethes with emotion, but it surely must have overwhelmed the play. To my ears, the music is not particularly memorable in itself but would have been ideal for silent films of the period.

Schmitt’s Study for “The Haunted Palace”, composed in 1904, is more of the same. In this case, the music was inspired by a poem by Edgar Allan Poe and vividly conveys the fantastical elements of Poe’s conception. Again Schmitt uses a very large orchestra, and his highly chromatic and impassioned music recalls Schoenberg’s symphonic poem Pelleas und Melisande Op. 5 from the same period. Falletta and her performers are totally into the music, and the sound quality is rich and full.

Time to shuffle off to Buffalo? Check out the orchestra’s website at www.bpo.org. Still to come this season are several well-planned programs, including a pair of concerts combining Novak’s In the Tatra Mountains and Richard Strauss’ Alpine Symphony (June 4/5). The recently announced 2016-17 season includes concerts honouring the friendship between Canada and the United States, featuring Quebec pianist Alain Lefèvre playing works from both countries. Elsewhere in the season, Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt appears playing Bach concertos, and JoAnn Falletta conducts two Scriabin symphonies.

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra: Florent Schmitt is available for purchase via Amazon.com and iTunes.

#LUDWIGVAN

Want more updates on Toronto-centric classical music news and review before anyone else finds out? Get our exclusive newsletter here and follow us on Facebook for all the latest.

Paul E. Robinson

Paul E. Robinson

Over the course of his career, Paul Evans Robinson has acquired a formidable reputation as a broadcaster, author, conductor, and teacher. He has communicated the joy of music to more than a generation of musicians and music lovers in Canada and elsewhere.
Paul E. Robinson

Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300
comments powered by Disqus

Ludwig Van Toronto

SCRUTINY | Shaw Festival's Mega Production Of 'Man And Superman' A Must See

By Paula Citron on August 26, 2019

Shaw Festival's complete production of Man and Superman pays due respect to Shaw’s wit and wisdom in the most engaging way.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

LEBRECHT LISTENS | With 'Time and Eternity', Patricia Kopatchinskaja Is Proving That The Concept Album Still Works

By Norman Lebrecht on September 6, 2019

The playing of Patricia Kopatchinskaja and the Camerata Bern captures the ear and suspends disbelief. No living violinist comes close to this scale of adventure. 
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

SCRUTINY | Third Annual Ukrainian Art Song Summer Institute Concert Sings From The Heart

By Joseph So on August 21, 2019

Now in its third year, the Ukrainian Art Song Summer Institute annual showcase for talented young singers was an afternoon well spent.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_low_590x300
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700

We have detected that you are using an adblocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website. Please whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.