Thursday, July 6, 2017

Florent Schmitt: String Trio (Pasquier Trio)

Florent Schmitt
Best remembered today for his ballet "La Tragédie de Salome" and his choral-orchestral setting of Psalm 47, French composer Florent Schmitt (1870-1958) actually established his reputation as much with chamber music as with those two works, through his massive, hour-long Piano Quintet of 1908. He returned to chamber music towards the end of his life, writing, among other things, a string quartet, a saxophone quartet, a flute quartet, and this string trio written for, and dedicated to, the Pasquier brothers:

Florent Schmitt: String Trio in E Minor, Op. 105
The Pasquier Trio (Jean, Pierre and Étienne Pasquier)
Recorded May 21 and December 3, 1946
Pathé PDT 103 through 106, four 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 81.26 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 46.96 MB)

This is a big, satisfying work in four movements, thickly scored (often, because of double-stopping, it sounds more like a sextet), and of immense technical difficulty. Perhaps this explains its comparative neglect, even among Schmitt's works. I believe it has been recorded only once since, in the early 1980s, on an obscure French label, Cybelia - a valiant attempt, but not equal to the one played by the dedicatees. The Gramophone Shop Supplement of October, 1948, reviewed this set (which sold for $10.48), calling it "music of savage power, strange harmonies, and relentless drive. One is hard-pressed to find what may be called 'beauty'..." The anonymous reviewer was certainly right about the power and drive, but there is nothing in the harmonies that would be out of place in, say, Fauré's late chamber music. For me the piece is a real find, as much so as the Loeffler violin partita that I posted last year.


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  2. Thank you very much indeed! All the best, Nick

  3. Dear Bryan,
    thanks to your great blog I am finally able to listen to this work! The Prisma Trio from Netherlands has this work in their repertoire, but unfortunately not yet made any recording.
    All the best, Martin

  4. Florent Schmitt was an amazing composer admired in particular by Stravinsky.
    Besides his (on purpose!) famous orchestral music, it is so captivating to be able to discover this rare string trio.
    Thanks a million dear Bryan for this significant recording by this wonderful French trio.

  5. thank you very much. just wonderful! -cheers, a.v.

  6. This is an important recording of important music that has languished in obscurity for far too long. Thank you for bringing it to us, sir.

  7. Thank you for this - rather rare - recording :-))