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Beautifully recorded, this is a terrific introduction to the music of Florent Schmitt (1870-1958), presented in demonstration-standard SACD sound. The two suites from Antoine et Cléopâtre are astonishing – often Straussian, Ravelian, sensual and gestural. Scoring throughout is the work of a master, including some exquisite nocturnal sound-painting (‘Nuit au palais de la Reine’, Suite No 2). The BBC Symphony Orchestra sounds lush and decadent, the recording supporting its sound perfectly. The result far outclasses JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic on Naxos.

The disc’s main work is the second symphony, which exists in a number of previous recordings (Munch, Martinon, Segerstam). Here we enter a different, more complex world. The emotional core is the dark, deeply interior second movement, beautifully sculpted and balanced by Oramo; the finale is capricious yet complex. A superb release.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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