FLORENT SCHMITT - Antoine et Cléopâtre

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FLORENT SCHMITT - Antoine et Cléopâtre - Le Palais hanté - Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra - JoAnn Falletta (Conductor) - 747313352173 - Released: November 2015 - Naxos 8.573521

Those of you seeking an introduction to the French composer Florent Schmitt (1870-1958) need look no further than this excellent new recording on the Naxos label that brings together two of his most emblematic orchestral works. A composer who lived during the very fertile period in musical history which spanned the 19th and 20th centuries and whose style crosses national boundaries. Although the strong influence of Ravel can be heard in his music, you can also feel the presence of Rimsky-Korsakov, Respighi and even Richard Strauss. Lush and colorful orchestration that paints vivid imagery over a large canvas. The Antoine et Cléopâtre - Six épisodes symphoniques en deux suites d'après le drame de Shakespeare from 1920, certainly inhabits the same sound world as the Daphnis of Ravel or the Belkis of Respighi. Its various episodes invoke ancient Egypt through love scenes, epic battles, orgiastic dances and Arabian nights. Every palette of orchestral colors is put to use to evoke the atmosphere of the Shakespearian drama. For example the percussionists must have a field day during the Orgie et Danses episode during which all manner of heavy drums, cymbals, triangles, bells and blocks are used to great effect. In fact I'm sure every member of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra earns their pay during this very demanding passage, as they demonstrate their skills with energy and panache. It remains a mystery to me as to why this brilliant composer is so seldom mentioned within the music community.

Follow this link to find a deeply informative blog on Florent Schmitt.

Below is a sample of Le Palais hanté sourced from a previous recording.

Jean-Yves Duperron - December 2015