Thursday, March 30, 2017

Florent Schmitt - Sonate libre; 3 Rapsodies; Hasards (Régis Pasquier; Hüseyin Sermet)


Composer: Florent Schmitt
  1. Sonate libre en deux parties enchaînées, for violin & piano, Op. 68: 1. Lent sans exagération
  2. Sonate libre en deux parties enchaînées, for violin & piano, Op. 68: 2. Animé
  3. 3 rapsodies for 2 pianos, Op. 53: 1. Française
  4. 3 rapsodies for 2 pianos, Op. 53: 2. Polonaise
  5. 3 rapsodies for 2 pianos, Op. 53: 3. Viennoise
  6. Hasards, for piano & string trio, Op. 96: 1. Exorde
  7. Hasards, for piano & string trio, Op. 96: 2. Zélie-au-pied-léger
  8. Hasards, for piano & string trio, Op. 96: 3. Demi-soupir
  9. Hasards, for piano & string trio, Op. 96: 4. Bourrée-bourrasque

Régis Pasquier, violin (1, 2, 6-9)
Bruno Pasquier, viola (6-9)
Roland Pidoux, cello (6-9)
Kun-Woo Paik, piano (3-5)
Olivier Greif, piano (6-9)
Hüseyin Sermet, piano (1-5)

Date: 1992
Label: Audivis Valois



''Florent Schmitt was the last of the great family to which Ravel, Dukas and Roussel belonged. He remains one who, by a happy assimilation of Germanic or central-European influences, offers to the French school a call to a certain kind of grandeur.'' The tribute here is printed on the back of the booklet and was paid to Schmitt by Henri Dutilleux. However, although his bigger works are powerful (I am thinking of his ballet La tragedie de Salome and the choral-orchestral Psalm 47, both from his thirties), here we have chamber pieces from his large output that are unknown except to specialists.

On the evidence of this disc, they are probably worth knowing but not compulsive or revelatory. The Sonate libre is a violin sonata in two linked movements playing for 31 minutes; this is fervent and faintly exotic music of a kind that manages to recall Franck and, even more, Szymanowski, and Regis Pasquier and Huseyin Sermet convey some of its spirit without sounding altogether idiomatic in the way that we might expect if they had lived with it for years. It offers an abundance of striking gestures, yet is short of memorable melodies and, ultimately, the kind of substance needed to sustain a piece of this length. In this it is typical of Schmitt, a worthy composer of the third rank, but I admire the performers for encompassing its many notes.

The other music is more rewarding. The Three Rhapsodies are early pieces from Schmitt's Prix de Rome years, and aim to invoke in turn France Poland and Vienna. Although thick and complex m his usual way, they are fairly tuneful and played with panache by Sermet and that excellent pianist Kun Woo Paik; two-piano teams may find them worth investigating. The recording here was made in a different location from the other works and is good, but in the Sonate and the Hasards the sound is at times congested. This latter work, for piano quartet and in four sections, dates from 1943 and is lively and reasonably witty in spite of the composer's incurable tendency to lay textures with a trowel.

-- Christopher Headington, Gramophone

More info & 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.


Régis Pasquier (born 12 October 1945 in Fontainebleau) is a French violinist. Born in a musical family, his father and two uncles formed the Trio Pasquier. He was a student of Zino Francescatti. In 1958, he won first prize in violin and chamber music at the Conservatoire de Paris, where he was named the professor of violin and chamber music in 1985 and taught until 2011. From 1977 to 1986, he was a violinist of the Orchestre National de France. For a while, he played in a string trio with violist Bruno Pasquier (his brother) and cellist Roland Pidoux.


Hüseyin Sermet (born in Istanbul, 1955) is a Turkish pianist and composer. Sermet has a worldwide career that takes him to major concert halls and international festivals. He is particularly well-known in France and the Middle East. He is a Doctor Honoris Causa by the Boğaziçi (1988) and Marmara (1998) universities, and was named a State Artist in 1991. He is Co-President of ADAP (Association of Artists for Peace), based in Paris.


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