Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Download: Classicsonline


Franz SCHMIDT (1874-1939)
Complete Symphonies
CD 1
Symphony No. 1 in E major (1896-9) [44:51]
CD 2
Symphony No. 2 in E flat major (1911-2) [46:55]
CD 3
Symphony No. 3 in A major (1927-8) [42:19]
CD 4
Symphony No. 4 in C major (1932-3) [42:12]
Marcy Chanteaux (cello) (4)
Detroit Symphony Orchestra/Neeme Järvi (1, 4)
Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Neeme Järvi (2, 3)
rec. Orchestra Hall, Detroit (1, 4), Orchestra Hall, Chicago (2, 3), 12-13 November 1994, 26 May 1996, 20-22, 25 April 1989, 30 January-3 February 1991. DDD
CHANDOS CHAN9568(4) [4 CDs: 44:51 + 46:55 + 42:19 + 42:12]
Experience Classicsonline

With Chandos celebrating its first thirty years it seemed opportune to review some of their longer established and perhaps overlooked contributions. This is one. It dates from a five year period when Järvi was tearing between the USA and Glasgow. His longstanding connection with the SNO (now the RSNO) was beginning to loosen as the American orchestras laid an even greater claim to his time.

This set of four extravagantly filled discs – one symphony per CD - is evidence of that transition. It also provides evidence of an overpowering confidence in the translation of these sprawlingly late-romantic works into the hands of two of America’s greatest orchestras.

About the Chicago there could have been little doubt but there might have been some uncertainty about Detroit. Their sumptuous excellence, vernal energy and weightiness of tone are attested to by their way with Schmidt’s First Symphony. This is a work in which a nervy current pulses through with reminiscences of Schumann and Bruckner and occasionally something of his contemporary Elgar. It is however a very personal synthesis and intensely attractive too. Do not expect anything terribly Mahlerian. While I would quibble about his occasionally leaden fugal obsessions in the finale of the First Symphony – it sometimes recalls a Stokowski Bach transcription - this is grand stuff from a young composer of 22.

As for the Fourth Symphony it is the work of a sixty-year old composer. Its long-lined invocatory trumpet introduction seems to carry an unresolvable burden of melancholy, confidence and disillusion. It recurs. The sweetness of this theme and its faintly dissonant acerbic quality give it an intense identity which once heard cannot be shaken off. By Schmidt’s own admission the Adagio which is ushered in by an elegiac cello solo spun, paced and shaped by Marcy Chanteaux. It speaks as a requiem for his daughter, Emma who died in 1932. There is a sense of sorrowing and of a tragic crumbling away in the finale. Is it a lament for his own passing life or for the descent into barbarism on which the German-speaking peoples teetered on the edge in 1934. In any event the smoothly undulant and moving trumpet theme from the first bars of the opening return. Not all is lost - a most beautiful and lofty theme borne up by the strings, underpinned by a harp glitter and over-pinned by the horns sings out in tirelessly reflective eloquence. Much of this has the quality of a soliloquy on which we eavesdrop.

The Chicagoans need little recommendation. Their sound is glorious and Chandos advocate it to us with all its damask lustre and density without rendering it opaque. In the Second Symphony there is a lot going on in that first movement which by the way is the one I would commend to someone who has never heard Schmidt before. The brass playing – the composer-specified eight horns, four trumpets - is of legendary splendour from 4.45 onwards in both the first and last movements. I would only take issue with Järvi over the hurried pulse he imparts to the rippling opening figure. There are surely parallels here with a contemporary work – also a Second Symphony – that of Elgar. It has that same nobilmente spirit. For me this brings back vividly my first experience of Schmidt when as a student all of almost forty years ago in a Bristol B&B I heard a BBC broadcast of an Austrian radio tape. I was won over immediately. It was all the more disappointing that when I eventually found a rare LP (Classical Excellence CE11044) of the work the sound was so impenetrably matte and the reading so stodgy. It was played by the Austrian Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Milan Horvat. That’s a recording that has not made it to CD and this is not to be lamented.

Schmidt entered the Third Symphony in the Schubert Centenary Competition for the best new symphony composed ‘in the spirit of Schubert’. This allowed plenty of wriggle room. Schmidt’s luminously scored work was identified as the best Austrian entry. Järvi makes the work sing and it does so in no parodic way so far as Schubert is concerned. The second movement also sings but knowingly and it is freighted with a slowly unfurling regret. This contrasts with the zest of the skipping semi-Brucknerian Scherzo. 

These were first issued separately complete with couplings: 1. + Strauss Intermezzo CHAN 9357; 2. CHAN 8779; 3 + Hindemith Concerto for Orchestra CHAN 9000; 4 + Strauss Symphonic Fragments CHAN 9506. Apart from the Fourth Symphony these have been deleted as CDs but are still available as MP3 or WMA downloads.

There is no other complete set currently available although with some effort you may be able to track down the individual Querstand CDs of the 2006-7 MDR performances conducted by Fabio Luisi. I have not heard them – but am trying to access them for review. You may also pick up Ludovit Rajter’s 1986-87 Opus set (9350 1851-4) in which he conducted the Bratislava orchestra. I have heard these and they are well done but the recording and the orchestra are not in the same league as the Chandos orchestras. The Second Symphony in the hands of Mitropoulos on Music & Arts is well worth hearing in good 1950s radio sound. Much the same can be said of Martin Sieghart’s Chesky CD of the Fourth. There’s also another - and easier to find Fourth – this time from Franz Welser-Möst. It’s on EMI Classics with Hans Bauer’s Hussarenlied Variations – a very generously timed disc. Welser-Möst’s Das Buch Mit Sieben Siegeln is compromised by his tenor but no blemishes on his Fourth Symphony. I should also not forget Zubin Mehta’s Decca recording of the Fourth (London-Decca 440 615). It’s the one by which many listeners will have come to know that work and to hear of Schmidt. Readers whose interest dates back to the 1950s may well have first encountered Schmidt through the Rudolf Moralt recording of the Fourth Symphony. It’s now available as a Naxos download on (9.80262).

Notes by Michael Fleming, Matthew Rye and Peter Franklin from the Chandos individual CDs are reproduced in the booklet.

A connoisseur’s choice for the Schmidt symphonies. The only one currently available but would be difficult to top anyway.

Rob Barnett


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount




Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.