SCHMIDT: Symphony No. 2 in E flat. STRAUSS: Dreaming by the Fireside (Symphonic Interlude from Intermezzo)
Vienna Philharmonic Orch / Semyon Bychkov, cond
Sony 88985355522 TT: 56:00

Various artists.
DUX 1300/1301 (2 disks) TT: 71 / 67 min.

RESPIGHI: Piano Concerto in A minor (1902). Piano Sonata in F minor (1897). Valse Caressante from Six Pieces for Piano (1903 - 1905.)
Antonio Pompa-Baldi, piano. Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra / Alfred Savia, cond.
CENTAUR CD CRC 3562 TT: 44:16

Franz Schmidt (1874 - 1939), a virtuoso pianist, was an important figure on Vienna's musical scene. He wrote four symphonies, two operas and a number of chamber works. Perhaps his greatest work is his choral masterpiece The B ook of the Seven Seals, covered on this site (REVIEW). Many old-time collectors first became aware of Schmidt with an early Epic recording of Symphony No. 4, and public radio listeners are familiar with the exotic Intermezzo from the opera Notre Dame. Schmidt composed some beautiful music reminiscent of Strauss or Korngold. His symphonies always do not show him at his best. Symphony No. 2, written in 1911, is overly long, lushly orchestrated but severely lacking in musical content It is magnificently played by the great Vienna Philharmonic conducted by Semyon Bychkov in this recording made in the Musikverein September 1 - 4, 2015. I doubt there will be another recording of this work that will do more for it. There exists a live performance of this Sytmphony eith Erich Leinsdorf on the podium from 1983 once available in a large Vienna Philharmonic set on the noiw defunct Andante label (RTEVIEW). Strauss's lovely interlude from the opera Intermezzo is included as an encore. It was a major oversight of producers not to have included the Notre Dame Intermezzo, which shows the composer at his best. Excellent audio.

The Young Genius is the title given to Centaur's CD of early music for piano by Ottorino Respighi. This features the acclaimed young pianist Antonio Pompa-Baldi. The earliest work is the 15-minute three movement Sonata in F minor composed in 1897, the latest is the first of the six piano pieces written from 1903-1905. This is a charming Valse Caressante, and it is unfortunate this is the only one of the six on this disk particularly when there is room for more. The Piano Concerto doesn't amount to much unfortunately; Respighi's inspiration had yet to surface. This is a mundane exercise for piano and orchestra. This performance

was recorded live January 23, 2016 in Victory Theater in Evansville. All of this music has been recorded before.If you have a true interest in hearing Respighi's early piano concerto, check out the Chandos CD with Geoffrey Tozer and the BBC Philharmonic directed by Edward Downes, which involves a superior orchestra.

The DUX label already has released a number of 2-CD sets devoted to various Polish composers including Gorecki, Chopin, Lutoslawski, Kilar and Moniuszko. An admirable project so collectors can acquire in a single package a wide sampling of each composer's music. Each set has a cardboard container holding the jewel box and the booklet. Their latest is devoted to the important Polish pianist/composer/statesman Ignace Jan Paderewski (1869 - 1941). Performances are by leading Polish artists, and repertory includes many works not familiar in the concert hall. From he Piano Concerto, one of Paderewski's best-known woks, we hear only the first movement, and we have only the Andane from his rarely played Symphony in B minor. There are 30 tracks, and listings are in Polish and English, not easy to read. A 74-page booklet contains program notes in Polish and English, mostly devoted to information about the many artists with pictures of each. Here is an opportunity to hear fine performances of music that surely will be new to most listeners, well recorded. However, if you want to hear the Piano Concerto in all of its glory, check Earl Wild's stunning RCA recording with Arthur Fiedler and the London Symphony.

R.E.B. (June 2017)