Franz Schmidt’s finely crafted Symphony No. 1, grandiose in scale and optimistic in mood, recalls the masterpieces of other great Romantic composers, Brahms, Bruckner and Reger, and won the Beethoven Prize in 1900.
His opera Notre Dame, based on Victor Hugo’s novel, was first staged in Vienna in 1914, and won him an international reputation.
Under Vassily Sinaisky the Malmö Symphony Orchestra, whose other Naxos recordings have been highly praised, makes a strong case for the revival of Schmidt’s strangely neglected, yet sumptuous and deeply satisfying music.
The Malmo Symphony Orchestra has been described as “world class” by ClassicsToday whilst Vassily Sinaisky was described in the following terms by International Record Review: “Vassily Sinaisky, as usual, offers rich performances that coax out the music’s colour and melodic appeal.”
“The Malmö Symphony Orchestra is entering a new era with Vassily Sinaisky as its principal conductor…it now deserves a place on the European music scene as an orchestra of distinction.” Skånska Dagbladet
“Sinaisky directs searching accounts of the works here and the Malmö players relish the task of tackling repertoire put on the map by the erstwhile director of their Gothenburg rivals along the Swedish coast.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2009
“Despite some celebrated past recordings, Franz Schmidt's symphonies have never quite made it into the musical premier league. It is not through lack of championship nor the quality of the works themselves, which is of the highest order.
The quality of Schmidt's music is demonstrated here by the least of his four symphonies, the prize-winning First (1899). Its four expansive movements play for some 45 minutes, the essential qualities of Schmidt's style evident in every bar: attractive melodies in appealing late- Romantic (but not overdone) harmonies with plentiful contrapuntal interest. If not possessing its successors' structural subtleties, the First is a well made and more satisfying whole than many better-known works. True, there are traces of Brahms, Bruckner and Wagner (and even foreshadowings of Elgarian nobilmente in the finale), but Schmidt's own voice shines through.
So it does in the splendid extracts from the first act of his opera Notre Dame (1902-04), of which the Intermezzo shows the lyrical Hungarian side of Schmidt's musical personality to radiant effect.
Sinaisky directs searching accounts of the works here and the Malmö players relish the task of tackling repertoire put on the map by the erstwhile director of their Gothenburg rivals along the Swedish coast.For those unfamiliar with Schmidt this newcomer makes a fine introduction.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010