Yannick Nézet-Séguin / Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal

Florent Schmitt: La Tragédie de Salomé; Symphonie en Ré

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Florent Schmitt's once popular ballet on the biblical story of Salome was revised and reorchestrated for concert performance in 1911, and the shortened version is what Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Orchestre Métropolitain recorded for ATMA Classique in 2010. A vivid score that incorporates rich harmonies and lush sonorities from late Romanticism and impressionism, La Tragédie de Salomé in its revised form is a tone poem in two parts, rather in the style of Richard Strauss, though quite unlike his famous opera Salomé. While Schmitt's work has flashes of brilliance and is famous for the irregular meters and propulsive rhythms that Igor Stravinsky admired, its orientation is essentially conservative and it lacks the shock factor that made Strauss' work daring and scandalous. Indeed, the inclusion of César Franck's Symphony in D minor as a companion piece seems to point up the inherent conservatism in Schmitt's work. However, the performances are much livelier than that assessment suggests, and Nézet-Séguin and the Montreal-based orchestra play with their expected interpretive skill and technical excellence. While the Schmitt selection is a fairly uncommon item and worth hearing at least once, the Franck is the more satisfying performance and what makes this disc worth owning. The fluidity of the playing and coherent shaping of the music give this symphony a vitality that is sometimes lacking in other, stodgier renditions. The reproduction is warm and resonant, though the recording sounds best with a moderately high volume setting.

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