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Schmitt: Symphonies - Murphy

Schmitt: Symphonies - Murphy

PentaTone Classics  PTC 5186039

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical


Joseph Schmitt: Symphony in D major Op. 1 No. 1, Symphony in G major ("Symfonie Periodique No. 1"), Symphony in E major "The Hurdy Gurdy" ("Symfonie Periodique Nr. 11"), Symphony in B major Op. 6 No. 2, Flute Quartet Op. 3 Nos. 3 & 6

New Dutch Academy
Simon Murphy

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Review by John Broggio - August 19, 2006

Sub-titled "The Dutch Haydn", this could be thought of as an adjunct to the series of the Mannheim symphonies that the NDA & Murphy are recording for Pentatone, though the period of the music is slightly but significantly later (around 1770 instead of around 1750). Schmitt was lucky (if he wasn't too daunted) to have studied composition at the same time as Mozart with their mutual teacher; one can imagine that Schmitt readily felt the need to return northwards!

Whilst there are not the works of absolute genius that Mozart bestowed upon the world, Schmitt was clearly very talented. With the benefit of hindsight, it is a little surprising that he was compared to Haydn (although nowhere as surprising as comparing Kreisler's Concerto to Vivaldi!) although, stylistic comparisons apart, the work is well worthy of a mid-period Haydn work albeit much sunnier when listening to the pieces presented here. This is a world-premiere recording well worth having, just like the other Pentatone has given the music loving world this year: Mozart: Donaueschingen Harmoniemusik - Blomhert

There are four symphonies (for strings, woodwind and continuo) as well as two flute quartets (flute, violin, viola & cello) in which Murphy forsakes the baton for his viola. The quartets are not as interesting as the symphonies musically but one cannot deny the dedication or the skill and grace that Murphy and his soloists from the NDA perform them. These serve as an interlude before the final symphony (mysteriously titled "The Hurdy Gurdy" even though one is not to be heard nor even alluded in the three movements).

In the symphonies, the NDA & Murphy clearly revel in the more public nature of the compositions which burst with energy when performed like this - try the "Hurdy Gurdy" finale for an example. I have rarely heard such pure joy in playing of any period like this; it truly is a delight from beginning to end as the middle movements (including some genuine slow movements) are given adequate time to sing by Murphy and his superv NDA.

The sound is excellent, and one would never realise that this was taped from a mixture of live concerts such is the beauty of the sound. If the notes hadn't mentioned this, I would never had known that an audience was as lucky as we are now.

A very enjoyable excursion to the "Dutch Haydn" - hopefully there will be more to follow.

Copyright © 2006 John Broggio and HRAudio.net

Performance:

Sonics (Multichannel):

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