The Book of Seven Seals
• Vienna Philharmonic, Vienna Singverein, Hilde Güden, Ira Malaniuk, Fritz Wunderlich, Walter Berry et al., Dimitri Mitropoulos (conductor), Sony 68442
• Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Chorus, Christiane Oelze, Cornelia Kallisch Stig Fogh Andersen, René Pape et al., Franz Welser-Möst (conductor), EMI 85782
• Lower Austrian Tonkünstler Orchestra, Vienna Singverein, Sandra Trattnigg, Michelle Breedt, Johannes Chum, Robert Holl et al., Kristjan Järvi (conductor), Chandos SACD 5061
• Hamburg Philharmonic, NDR Chorus, Klaus Florian Vogt, Georg Zeppenfeld et al.; Simone Young (conductor), Oehms OC 1840
(See review on ionarts: Dip Your Ears, No. 213 – A Seven-Seal One Man Show)
Sadly there is no perfect Book of Seven Seals; great performances are let down by bad sound or great sound by middling performances or superb soloists by a dour, unidiomatic orchestral performance or top-notch ingredients by an aging and ailing conductor. If ancient sound is not a problem, Mitropoulos might still be the top choice, otherwise, Welser-Möst is the best over-all bet. Anyone particularly keen on a stellar performance from the tenor will not be able to get around Klaus Florian Vogt’s contribution. Perhaps Manfred Honeck will record a version before long?!
Symphonies nos. 1–4, Detroit and Chicago Symphony Orchestras, Neeme Järvi (conductor), Chandos 9568
Symphony no. 1; Notre Dame (excerpts), Malmö SO, Vassily Sinaisky, Naxos 8 570828
Symphony no. 2; Fuga Solemnis, Malmö SO, Vassily Sinaisky, Naxos 8.570589
Symphony no. 2 (+ R.Strauss, Fireside Revery), Vienna Philharmonic, Semyon Bychkov, Sony 88985355522
Symphony no. 3; Chaconne, Vassily Sinaisky, Naxos 8.572119
Symphony no. 4, Variations on a Hussar’s Song, Vassily Sinaisky, Naxos 8.572118
Symphony no. 4, Variations on a Hussar’s Song, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Franz Welser-Möst (conductor), EMI 55693
The Symphonies are at the heart of Schmidt’s output and the pickings are rich. Most impressive among them the recent Second Symphony with Semyon Bychkov and Schmidt’s colleagues-through-time, the Vienna Philharmonic in tip-top shape. (Forbes review here: Classical CD Of The Week: Zeitgeist And The Symphony — A Viennese Treasure; Forbes.com 10 Best Classical Recordings Of 2017). If you can find the recordings of Ludovit Rajter with the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra (Opus 9350 1851-54 or Gramofonové závody L1 0122-2 034), those – despite the no-name ingredients – are also decidedly worth picking up.
Piano Concerto (left hand), Concertante Variations (left hand), Markus Becker (piano), Eiji Oue (conductor), NDR Radio Philharmonic, CPO 777338
The String Quartets, Franz Schubert String Quartet, Nimbus 5467
Clarinet Quintet, Romance for Piano, Toccata for Piano left hand et al., Aladár Jánoska (Clarinet) et al., Marco Polo 8.223414
Piano Quintet for left hand (+ Korngold Suite for Piano left hand and Strings) Leon Fleisher (piano), Yo Yo Ma (cello), Joel Smirnoff (violin) et al., Sony 48253
Piano Quintet (piano part rewritten for both hands + A.Bruckner, String Quintet), Vienna Philharmonia Quintet, Decca Eloquence 4762455
Piano Quintet, Clarinet Quintet, Rainer Keuschnig (Piano), Ernst Ottensamer (Clarinet) et al., Orfeo 287921
Notre Dame, Berlin RSO, Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus, St. Hedwig’s Cathedral Choir, James King, Horst Laubenthal, Kurt Moll, Hans Helm et al., Christoph P(e)rick (conductor), Capriccio 5181
Organ Works (complete), Andreas Juffinger (organ, Jesus Christus Kirche, Berlin), Capriccio 67 093/96
For those listeners who are already into organ music, Schmidt will reveal himself further through the organ works. Although he was not an organist himself, he was taught by one (and tends to be admired by organists). Late-romantic but decidedly without the bombast.