Franz Schmidt is not yet the object of a full-fledged revival, but the increased attention paid to his symphonies may well inspire one. The ambitious "Symphony No. 2 in E flat major" has received two major releases in 2017, one by Stefan Blunier and the Beethoven Orchester Bonn on MDG, and the other by Semyon Bychkov and the Vienna Philharmonic on Sony Classical. While this is the longest and most challenging of Schmidt's four symphonies, its rich harmonies, pastoral melodies, and vibrant orchestration are especially appealing to fans of post-Romantic music. The work evokes Schmidt's teacher, Anton Bruckner, whose influence is felt in the expansiveness of the form and the epic grandeur of the music, though the most obvious source for inspiration appears to be Richard Strauss, whose dynamic tone poems Schmidt clearly admired. The energetic counterpoint, heroic themes, and elaborate scoring are reminiscent of Strauss' "Don Juan," "Ein Heldenleben," and "Also sprach Zarathustra," and this connection naturally suggests pairing the symphony with short Strauss pieces, such as the "Festival Prelude" on Blunier's recording. Bychkov has coupled the symphony with Strauss' "Dreaming by the Fireside," a symphonic interlude from the opera "Intermezzo," and this selection is appropriate because its gentle lyricism is a fine match for the symphony's warmth and radiance. The playing by the Vienna Philharmonic is first-rate in every regard, and Bychkov's generous interpretation raises hopes for a complete Schmidt cycle. Highly recommended.