New CD a sample of unconventional thinking from member of a band of Parisian hooligans
Whenever you kill hundreds of thousands of people, you're going to get some of their culture, too. Among the casulalties of World War I was a Parisian group that was more than a salon and less than the Arts & Crafts movement in England and the United States.
The Parisians called themselves la Société des Apaches, which in pre-politically correct form is meant to mean Society of Hooligans. They met every Saturday. Their anthem is said to have been the opening theme of the second movement of Borodin's Second Symphony:
There were writers, critics, composers, poets, publishers, interior decorators, textile artists (a sample pictured above is by Edouard Benedictus who also, I think, invented safety glass), musicians and painters among their ranks. Their unofficial leader was Maurice Ravel, who even created a fictional member of the group, Gomez de Riquet, just for fun. Ravel dedicated the pieces in Miroirs to this scrappy gang.
One of the members was composer and music critic Florent Schmitt, born in 1870 (making him five years older than Ravel). His music was very popular in France at the turn of the 20th century but here's another example of a composer who outlived his times. By the time he died in 1958, Schmitt was all but forgotten (it didn't help that Schmitt made a show of being a collaborator during World War II).
Excellent younger French pianist Vincent Larderet has done the world-premiere recording of Schmitt's piano transcription of his reworked 1911 ballet score for La Tragédie de Salomé, which was first performed in 1907 -- a work Stravinsky praised as a masterpiece of Modern music.
Larderet has filled out the Naxos CD with a three-piece suite called Ombres, written near the close of World War I and dripping with drama and melancholy. The second, Mirages, features a 1920 tribute to Claude Debussy and a piece dedicated to Alfred Cortot.
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All of this music makes incredible technical demands on the pianist -- which Larderet overcomes with panache. His playing is remarkable for its ease as well as style. Although tonal, the music isn't easy to digest; it's the sort of listening experience that improves over multiple tries, as the composer's craft begins to show itself more clearly.
Here is Schmitt's colourful 1924 orchestration of Mirages. The conductor is Jacques Mercier: