Leo Smit - Concerto for piano and wind orchestra

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Leo Smit (1900-1943)

Concerto : pour piano avec accompagnement d'orchestre d'harmonie (1937)

1. Allegro moderato - 00:00
2. Lento (Koraal) - 03:58
3. Allegro vivace - 09:35

Bart Van de Roer, piano
Orchestra: Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Lucas Vis


Leo Smit was a Dutch composer and pianist. He studied piano with Ulfert Schults and composition with Zweers and Dresden. After taking his piano diploma in 1922, in 1923 he was the first composition student to graduate cum laude at the Amsterdam Conservatory. There he taught music analysis and harmony (1924-1927). In 1927 he moved to Paris where he met Milhaud, who was a major influence. Searching for new music he was impressed by the première of Markevitch's Cantate (1930), and enjoyed the informal music-making as practised by Milhaud and Honegger with their pupils in the Café Camélion, where he got to know the music of Ferroud. His ballet music Shemselnihar, performed in Amsterdam in 1929 under the direction of Monteux, shows he also studied the Russian composers. Although his film music for Jonge harten was a success, he criticized the commercialism that rapidly started to infect the genre. In Brussels he finished his Concerto for piano and wind instruments and the Concertino for cello and orchestra before returning to Amsterdam in December 1937. Now he had developed a unique style combining a characteristic drive with moving lyricism as well as spirit and humour. Smit's view on neo-classicism is an emotional one. The Concerto for piano and wind instruments has a startling opening with jazz elements. The slow movement is a chorale with sardonic wrong notes in the style of Stravinsky.
In an interview with Karel Mengelberg (1940), Smit said: One should stimulate one's production without forcing it. The brilliant Symphony in C for Classical orchestra that Karel Mengelberg directed in 1936 shows that Smit had been right to be patient with himself. Carefully studying the masterworks of modern composers such as Debussy and Ravel, Smit had gradually developed his craftsmanship to its peak. In his first orchestral work, Silhouetten (first performed by the Concertgebouw Orchestra in 1925), six miniatures inspired by drawings of Paul Süss end with a daring foxtrot that already testifies to great fantasy and a remarkable talent for orchestration. During the 1920s he composed for the harpist Rosa Spier theatre music and lyrical works for harp, strings and flute that show a great knowledge of harp technique. In 1933 Spier gave the première of Smit's Concertino for harp and orchestra under van Beinum's direction. In 1938-1939 he composed vocal works of which the song Kleine prelude van Ravel is most ambitious in its use of vocal technique. The Trio for clarinet, viola and piano (1938) is one of the highlights of Smit's chamber music. Spending his last years composing and teaching in Amsterdam, Smit, who was of Jewish descent, became the victim of Nazi persecution during the war and was deported to the Sobibor deathcamp with his wife on 27 April 1943. They were murdered on 30 April 1943; only months before, Smit had finished the Lento of his Sonata for flute and piano, a masterpiece that can be justly called one of the most beautiful contributions to the 20th-century flute repertory.

💬 Comments
Author

I got here via a Leo Smit Divertimento for piano - and I am delighted by this concerto! It´s vibrant, fresh, sparkling and would deserve greater fame! I hope his music and memory is kept alive - and his cruel fate by the hand of the Nazis.

Author — H-M H

Author

It's interesting that in the past week I discovered three neo-classical style composers including Alexandre Tansman 1897-1986, Leonardo Balada 1933-, and Smit. Smit is obviously indebted to the music of Stravinsky and Ravel. He wrote some beaitiful music.

Author — reid2hai