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Forgotten Treasures Franz SCHMIDT (1874-1939) Intermezzo from Notre Dame (1902) [5:08] Leo WEINER (1885-1960) Hungarian Folkdance Suite, Op. 18 (1931) [27:07] Giuseppe MARTUCCI (1856-1909) Notturno, Op. 70, No. 1 (1891-93) [7:29] Ildebrando PIZZETTI (1880-1968) Rondň veneziano (1929) [23:45] Nikolai TCHEREPNIN (1873-1945) La Princess Lointaine: Prelude Op. 4 (1895) [8:21]
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra/JoAnn Falletta
rec. live, 2013-2017, Kleinhans Music Hall, Buffalo, USA BEAU FLEUVE RECORDS 605996-998531 [71:49]
This is a musical bouquet presented by the Buffalo orchestra to JoAnn Falletta, its chief conductor of twenty-five years standing. It’s a sumptuous spray and worthy, in unpredictable choice of repertoire, of the many discs Falletta and Buffalo have issued both through Naxos and via the orchestra’s own label, Beau Fleuve.
The sound of the Schmidt is fulsomely plush; not quite Philadelphia in its heyday but satisfying still. The sound befits a composer of symphonies of supple luxury: the Second and Fourth. I don’t think of Schmidt as the composer of bon-bons but this Intermezzo reminds us that he deserves a place at the top-table, both in choice morsels and to remind us that he started out by writing operas (Fredegundis and Notre Dame) that he hoped would command the repertoire. The Intermezzo is his one slight grip on the stage but courtesy of the concert hall. Karajan, Kempe, Kreizberg, Sinaisky, Halasz and now Falletta allow the piece to sing its song.
The Weiner is an explosively wild and woolly Hungarian folk dance suite. It stands, in all its 27 minutes and four movements, closer to whirlwind Kodály than to Bartók. Explorers, stirred to look further into this composer, should not overlook the all-Weiner orchestral disc from Chandos. Rather like the Schmidt, the Martucci (which has been recorded several times) blooms and warms the listener simultaneously. It’s very much out of the same chapter as Schoeck’s Sommernacht and Massenet’s Dernier sommeil. As for the Pizzetti - a seamless 24-minute moody tone poem rather than a fanciful wingbeat - it has been recorded before by Hyperion whose all-Pizzetti disc is worth searching out. Rondo Veneziano’s persistently wild horn bellows (7:00) might snare Korngold fanciers to Pizzetti’s cause, as would the insistently voluptuous caressing of the solo violin (12:51). You can read all about Nikolai Tcherepnin’s unfairly closed case in the article by Gregor Tassie. La princesse lointaine is a luxury item. It forms a musical preface to the play by Edmond Rostand. Generous of heart, it is reminiscent of Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and Fourth Symphony in its slow-pulsed intensity.
The Buffalo orchestra has its home in the same Kleinhans Hall in which Lukas Foss recorded the Nonesuch LP of Sibelius’s Lemminkainen Legends with them in the 1960s. Then there were the spankingly eager performances of the Gershwin “music theater” overtures in the 1970s with Michael Tilson Thomas and CBS. They’re still well worth hearing. The sound on Beau Fleuve’s disc is likewise fully voiced but there is a slight speckle of audience noise here and there - little enough but it has to be noted as does the applause for some items.
The notes for this CD are an object lesson in squeezing fullest measure of commentary and background into an eight-page booklet.