Schmidt's later life was not happy. His wife developed serious mental illness, and you cannot hear this work without thinking of a man reflecting on youth in the adversity of old age.
The fact that the work is in C should tell you a lot too. But if the musical language is conservative, the work is, I think, a masterpiece in its own way. A personal utterance that nevertheless works as an aesthetic whole.
Here is Fabio Luisi (pictured testing to see if his baton is al dente as he requested) conducting the Vienna Philharmonic. Sound is very decent at 192 kbs, mp3.
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