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David Theodor Schmidt (piano)
Johann Sebastian BACH

English Suite No. 6 in D minor, BWV811 (1906) [25.07]
Transcriptions: Wachet auf (arr. Busoni) [3.25]; Nun freut euch (arr. Busoni) [2.08]; Ich ruf zu dir (arr. Busoni) [3.00]; Jesu, joy of man’s desiring (arr. Hess) [3.39]; Sinfonia: Dir danken dir (arr. Kempff) [4.21]
César FRANCK (1822-1890)

Prélude, Chorale et Fugue (1884) [18.59]
David Theodor Schmidt (piano)
Rec 13-15 April 2004, Heinrich Lades Halle, Erlangen
FAMIRO 4 035766 500163 [61.11]

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This Bavarian Radio production introduces another young pianistic talent to the catalogue. David Theodor Schmidt was born in 1982, and made this recording in his home town of Erlangen. The recorded sound is accurate, clear and atmospheric, and brings out his richly capable talent.

Of course the Bach repertory is a crowded market place among recorded performances. This recital is imaginatively put together and gives much pleasure, so it enters the market place with head held high. Tempi are well chosen in all the pieces both large and small, and in any case the large (the English Suite) is made of several small movements in sequence.

The exception is the 1884 masterpiece by César Franck, the Prélude, Chorale et Fugue, since parts of this develop on a more extended plan and in any case are designed to form a single span of some twenty minutes. For all the considerable difficulties of this piece, Schmidt’s performance is a triumph and the best thing on the disc. He has power when required, but sensitivity too, while the piano sound is particularly sensitive and appealing in this great but under-valued work.

As for various Bach items, the pianism on display is that of a real talent with an exciting future. The English Suite is held together well across its varying approaches and tempi, and that variety is developed into its very strength. The transcriptions make an interesting collection but the performances are more mixed. The highlights are probably Busoni’s version of Nun freut ich and Wilhelm Kempff’s of the dramatic sinfonia from the cantata Wir danken dir, Gott. The extrovert style and more epic scale of these pieces suit Schmidt’s pianistic style, whereas in the more intimate numbers he plays the notes but does not necessarily conjure the magic. The balancing of melodic strands within textures is not always completely convincing, for example.

This German production was no doubt intended primarily for home consumption, since the music notes are provided only in German, though there is an artist biography in English also. The notes are rather thin and not at easy to read, being in small print against a grey-designed background, another case of a booklet putting the ‘design cart’ before the ‘information horse’.

Terry Barfoot

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