Music of Florent Schmidt

French composer Florent Schmidt (1870-1958) bridged many epochs and essayed many ideas in his compositions. Coming of age during the so called Belle Époque and maturing as an artist during the first decades of the 20th century, Schmidt became friends with the who’s who of French artists when he fell in with Les Apaches, a group of artists that at one time or another included the likes of Ravel and Stravinsky.

Even though it would have logical for Schmidt to be influenced by the teachings of Massenet and Fauré, with both of whom he studied at the Conservatoire, as well as by the music of Ravel and some of the other French members of Les Apaches, Schmidt gravitated instead to the Germanic ideas about orchestration of Wagner and Strauss and Stravinsky’s modernisms.

Not well liked in Parisian musical circles not only by the mere fact of being a caustic critic, but also by both his eccentric behavior at concerts which he would disrupt by yelling insults at the performers, and by his Anti-Semitism (once yelling “Vive Hitler!” at a concert featuring the music of Kurt Weill), Schmidt was hated by his off-putting personality and ill-mannered behavior.

But personality aside and sixty years after his death, Schmidt’s music is largely neglected so that the release of this CD of his music, beautifully executed by Maestra JoAnn Falletta, here conducting Orianne with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra accompanying the honeyed-voice mezzo-soprano Susan Platts singing both La Tragédie de Salomé and Musique sur l’eau, and the superb violinist Nikki Choi playing Légende, is a welcome addition to the NAXOS catalogue.

Rafael de Acha