Schmidt: Concertos [Hybrid SACD]

Schmidt: Concertos [Hybrid SACD]

by Ole Schmidt
     
 

If most classical listeners still equate Denmark with the music of Carl Nielsen, don't blame Dacapo Records. The Copenhagen-based label has long championed that nation's other composers, striving to bring the music of less familiar names to a broader public. On this appealing release of concertos by Ole Schmidt (b. 1928), Dacapo does Denmark proud with a disc of… See more details below

Overview

If most classical listeners still equate Denmark with the music of Carl Nielsen, don't blame Dacapo Records. The Copenhagen-based label has long championed that nation's other composers, striving to bring the music of less familiar names to a broader public. On this appealing release of concertos by Ole Schmidt (b. 1928), Dacapo does Denmark proud with a disc of engagingly well crafted music, combining excellent performances by young Danish soloists with recorded sound of impeccable presence and detail. On the evidence of these four works, Schmidt -- a noted conductor and educator as well as a composer -- writes in an accessible and melodic style, neo-classical at the core but tinted with modernist influences, often bringing to mind the music of Hindemith and Stravinsky. Whether his solo instrument is flute, horn, or tuba (and Schmidt has also written concertos for accordion, guitar and oboe, among others), the composer creates a vehicle that's both expressive and virtuosic, not to mention sounding like it's lots of fun to perform. Half of this disc places flutist Ulla Millmann front and center, in the earliest (1960) and most recent (1985) works on the program. Although Schmidt's musical language didn't really change over that quarter century, you can certainly hear greater depth, freedom, and variety in the later concerto, compared to the lighter cheerfulness of the early one. Schmidt's works for brass instruments survey even more diverse moods. In the Concerto for Horn and Chamber Orchestra (1966), perhaps the program's most powerful piece, David M.A.P. Palmquist wields the solo line heroically throughout a mysteriously dramatic opening movement and a playfully unpredictable finale. Schmidt's Tuba Concerto (1975) deals with the challenge of writing for an extremely deep voiced and somewhat unwieldy soloist (a valiant Jens Bjorn-Larsen in this recording) through careful combinations of sonority in the small orchestra, pairing the tuba with cellos and bassoons or contrasting it with high woodwinds. If the ingenuity of his orchestration is most obvious in this work, Schmidt's talents are clear throughout the disc, which serves as an admirable introduction to this modern Danish master.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Uncle Dave Lewis
In his native Denmark, composer Ole Schmidt has enjoyed renown for his music since 1954, when his first concerted work, his "Piano Concerto," was widely heard on Danish radio. When this concerto was written, Schmidt was still a student, pumping piano in restaurants and for ladies' gymnastics classes, and several years more would elapse before Schmidt emerged as one of Denmark's most respected conductors. Schmidt's work as a conductor ultimately took center stage in his international career as he led the first complete recording of Carl Nielsen's symphonies in 1974 and has held guest conductor posts in places as wide ranging as Manchester, England, and Toledo, OH. However, this did not lead Schmidt to abandon composition; quite the contrary, as his first symphony of 1955 won him a publishing contract with the eminent Danish publishing house of Wilhelm Hansen. A survey of Ole Schmidt's work as composer, the idea of combining a disc of Schmidt's concerted works, as DaCapo has done in Ole Schmidt: Concertos, is a good one, as most of Schmidt's works for orchestra outside of his symphonies involve a soloist. Although Danish sources frequently peg Schmidt as "combining neo-Classicism and jazz", there is very little jazz in the music here, although some allusions to big band stylings appear in the second movement of his 1966 "Concerto for horn and chamber orchestra." Schmidt is neo-Classical only to a point -- one of the hallmarks of his style is extreme clarity of orchestration, consistently pared to the absolute bone in the manner of Stravinsky. This disc features four concerti, two for flute, one for horn, and one for tuba. The most dynamic of the four is the tuba concerto, which does manage to get the tuba off the floor and into the air a bit, although it does not entirely sidestep the tuba's occasionally flatulent tones; tuba players will be amazed by the triple tonguing in the last movement. The atmosphere in all four concerti is generally Bartókian, but not dense, and the early "Suite for flute, string orchestra, harp and percussion" is brighter and utilizes more quartal-sounding harmonies than the darker, later works. While the music of Ole Schmidt may be an acquired taste, it never seems alien or overly aggressive; it has a strong rhythmic profile and skillful, generally attractive writing for the soloists. DaCapo's sound engineering on this super audio CD is amazing -- it is very clear, lifelike, and every instrument can be heard.

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Product Details

Release Date:
03/21/2006
Label:
DA CAPO RECORDS
UPC:
0747313151561
catalogNumber:
6220515
Rank:
312154

Tracks

  1. Suite for flute, string orchestra, harp & percusssion, Op. 21  - Ole Schmidt  - Ulla Miilmann Jorgensen  - Ole Schmidt  -  Danish National Symphony Orchestra
  2. Concerto for flute & strings  - Ole Schmidt  - Ulla Miilmann Jorgensen  - Ole Schmidt  -  Danish National Symphony Orchestra
  3. Concerto for horn & chamber orchestra, Op. 31  - Ole Schmidt  - Ole Schmidt  -  Danish National Symphony Orchestra  - David M.A.P. Palmquist
  4. Concerto for tuba & orchestra, Op. 42  - Ole Schmidt  - Ole Schmidt  -  Danish National Symphony Orchestra  -  Jens Bjørn-Larsen

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