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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Florent Schmitt - La Tragédie de Salomé; Ombres; Mirages (Vincent Larderet)


Composer: Florent Schmitt
  1. Ombres, Op. 64: I. J'entends dans le lointain
  2. Ombres, Op. 64: II. Mauresque
  3. Ombres, Op. 64: III. Cette ombre, mon image
  4. Mirages, Op. 70: I. Et Pan, au fond des blés lunaires, s'accouda
  5. Mirages, Op. 70: II. La Tragique Chevauchée
  6. La Tragédie de Salomé, Op. 50 bis (version for piano): Part I: Prelude
  7. La Tragédie de Salomé, Op. 50 bis (version for piano): Part I: Danse des perles
  8. La Tragédie de Salomé, Op. 50 bis (version for piano): Part II: Lent – Les Enchantements sur la mer – Danse des éclairs – Danse de l’effroi

Vincent Larderet, piano
Date: 2011
Label: Naxos



Florent Schmitt was a student of Massenet and Fauré, contemporary of Ravel, so it can hardly come as a surprise that his music is heady with Impressionism. The booklet writer, Gérald Hugon, points out that Ombres (Shadows, 1912–17) has distinct parallels with Ravel’s Gaspard , and it is easy to hear how. The first part (“J’entends dans le lontain”) certainly seems of equivalent technical difficulty. The full form of the movement’s title translates as “I hear in the distance drawn-out cries of the most poignant grief,” and reflects the piece as response to the events of World War I. The movement spreads out over nearly a quarter of an hour; its varied terrain is sensitively negotiated by the young Vincent Larderet. Just as the Mediterranean infuses the Impressionists, so it does “Mauresque,” the work’s slow, reflective central panel. The final part, “Cette ombre, mon image” (That shadow, my likeness), was inspired by a line by Walt Whitman and with it Schmitt’s writing begins to enjoy a timelessness hitherto absent. Larderet, Paris- and Lübeck-trained (in the latter venue with Bruno-Leonardo Gelber), seems perfectly attuned to Schmitt’s fragrant and fascinating Ravel-yet-not-quite sound world.

Only the first movement has multiple recordings available, according to ArkivMusic, yet a little searching reveals Laurent Wagshal on Saphir and Werner Barschi on Accord.

The Mirages , op. 70, consists of only two movements. The capricious element of the first (inspired by Pan) is superbly projected by Larderet; the second, “La Tragique Chevauchée” (The Tragic Gallop, dedicated to Cortot) is marked Emporté et violent , and Larderet takes the “violent” element to heart, contrasting it with some delightful staccato passages. Finally, the composer’s own version of the second, shorter, version of Tragédie de Salomé, a ballet originally for orchestra. Naxos here presents a premiere recording. This is a multifaceted work, anticipating Stravinsky’s Rite here while luxuriating in Debussian haze there. Hearing Impressionist orchestral scores on the piano is no cul-de-sac, as Jean-Efflam Bavouzet conclusively proved on his Chandos disc of works that included the magnificent Jeux (10545, reviewed by myself in Fanfare 33:6). Larderet continues the tradition in fine fashion. His performance is gripping and multitimbred. Perhaps the ecstasy of the central “Danse des perles” could rise further. No such gripes to the final movement, however, with its Stravinskian dances expertly, and excitingly, realized.

This disc was reviewed in Fanfare 35:4 by my colleague Radu A. Lelutiu. I am perhaps a little more enthusiastic about Schmitt’s music. This is definitely one of Naxos’s better releases.

-- Colin Clarke, FANFARE

More reviews:


Florent Schmitt (28 September 1870 – 17 August 1958) was a French composer. He was part of the group known as Les Apaches. At the age of 19 he entered the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied with Gabriel Fauré, Jules Massenet, Théodore Dubois, and Albert Lavignac. Schmitt wrote 138 works with opus numbers. His most famous pieces are La tragédie de Salome and Psaume XLVII (Psalm 47). His own style, recognizably impressionistic, owed something to the example of Debussy, though it had distinct traces of Wagner and Richard Strauss also.


Vincent Larderetis a French pianist. He studied in Paris with Carlos Cebro and won the virtuosity prize at the National Conservatory of Music in Rueil Malmaison. He completed his training at the Lübeck Musikhochschule in Germany with Bruno-Leonardo Gelber. Praised as an "impressive pianist" for his "very lyrical playing" and his "multi-timbred" sound, Larderet’s eclectic repertoire stretches from Scarlatti to Boulez. His recordings released by ARS Produktion, NAXOS, Chandos and INTEGRAL Classic received international critical acclaim.


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