They begin 2017 with the release of a box set that will include their complete four-album cycle of Florent Schmitt’s original works for piano duet and duo, first issued by Naxos Records on its Grand Piano label between 2012 and 2013.
Issued in 2012, Volume 1 contained Schmitt’s Trois rapsodies, Op. 53, and the first-ever recording of Schmitt’s Sept pièces, Op. 15, composed in 1899. The album concluded with a previously unpublished work, Rhapsodie parisienne. Composed in 1900, it is one of two unpublished duets by Schmitt. The first volume was voted “Recording of the Month” and “Critics’ Choice” by MusicWeb International and Naxos Records, respectively, in May of 2013.
It is unclear whether many of Schmitt’s works for piano duet had ever received formal public performances in Europe, prior to the Invencia Piano Duo’s revival of Schmitt’s compositions. A number appear to have been composed by Schmitt as piano études, particularly the two premiere recordings, Sur cinq notes, Op. 34 and Eight Easy Pieces, Op. 41, which were included on Volume 2.
Volume 3 heralded the debut recordings of a six-movement work composed between 1895 and 1902, Musiques foraines, Op. 22, and the Marche du 163 R.I., Op. 48. Volume 4 featured Trois pièces récréatives, Op. 37. The same album contained the first-ever issue of the Lied et Scherzo, Op. 54, in Schmitt’s version for piano four-hands, played on two pianos; composed in 1910 for double woodwind quintet; alternate editions of this piece were also prepared by the composer for horn and piano, as well as cello and piano.
Now packaged as a singular compilation, you may enjoy all four of Invencia’s albums of Florent Schmitt’s music on this latest release by Grand Piano.
Florent Schmitt (1870 – 1958) was one of France’s less well-known classical composers. Born in the small town of Blâmont (Meurthe-et-Moselle, Lorraine), Schmitt’s German surname belied his irrespressible French musicianship.
Schmitt was a contemporary of Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy, although he outlived both men by decades. Educated at the Conservatoire de Paris by Théodore Dubois, Albert Lavignac, André Gédalge, Jules Massenet and Gabriel Fauré, among others, Schmitt developed a style of composition that, while distinctly French, exploited the grandiose aspects of orchestration more typical of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
His last large-scale work, the Symphony No. 2, was premiered at the Strasbourg Festival by the French National Radio Orchestra, conducted by Charles Munch just months before Scmitt’s death in 1958 at the age of 87.
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© Invencia Piano Duo, Phillip Nones, Naxos Records