If you are a little uncertain as to whether this release of music by Florent Schmitt (1870-1958) fits the bill, he is musically a Frenchman through and through and can be spoken of in the same breath as Debussy, Dukas, Ravel and Roussel.
Sample if at all possible Musique sur l’eau, a gorgeous piece, recorded for the first time, a first-cousin to Ravel’s Shéhérazade, and beautifully sung by Susan Platts. If something more dramatic is to your taste then Oriane et le Prince d’Amour is a recommendation – gripping in its atmosphere, paint-box suggestion and voluptuousness. It reminds at times of Dukas’s La Péri. Expressive intensity is to the fore in Légende (debut recording of this version, for violin and orchestra) in which Nikki Chooi (Buffalo concertmaster) plays with Gypsy-style fantasy in music that rises to impassioned climaxes.
Probably Schmitt’s best-known score is La Tragédie de Salomé, 1910, coming just before Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé. The Schmitt has a distinguished discography – including Dervaux, Martinon, Munch, Paray and also the composer himself, in 1930; more recently Thierry Fischer has recorded Salomé for Hyperion. JoAnn Falletta and her Buffalos, as throughout this well-recorded release, are inspired on behalf of this symphonic poem (originally a ballet until revised) – its vivid narrative, colours, incident, thrills and beauties.
Overall, a strong case for these Schmitt scores is made. Naxos 8.574138.