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Karl GOLDMARK (1830-1915)
String Quartet, Op. 8 (1860) [31.02]
String Quintet, Op. 9 (1862) [37.59]
Haydn Quartett
Rudolf Leopold (cello)
rec. 2007, Evangelische Kirche, Neunkirchen, Austria
GRAMOLA 99076 [69.06]

The year 2015 sees the centenary of Karl Goldmark’s death. This seems to be passing with a mere whimper compared with the attention enjoyed by other luminaries in the classical music world who also celebrate anniversaries such as Sibelius, Nielsen, Pärt and Boulez. Hungarian by birth Goldmark adopted the city of Vienna as his home. When he died in 1915 he was a leading figure in the city’s music establishment but his star quickly dimmed. Admired in his day by supporters of both the Wagner and Brahms camps it is the reputation of the Rustic Wedding Symphony, the opera The Queen of Sheba and Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor that secures Goldmark a toehold on the repertoire. The present release is the only Goldmark anniversary recording I have come across up to now.

To my ears Goldmark’s chamber writing was influenced by the works of Schubert, Mendelssohn and Schumann. Although attractive and worthwhile hearing these Golmark works don’t have anything like the same level of inspiration. Incidentally his friend Brahms had yet to write his string quartets and string quintets.

Written in 1860 in Vienna the String Quartet, Op. 8 was Goldmark’s first taste of success. Joseph Hellmesberger Sr. founder of the Hellmesberger Quartet originally turned the work down but Goldmark engaged the quartet privately to give the première which led to a favourable outcome. Scored for two violins, viola and two cellos it seems the Hellmesberger Quartet introduced the String Quintet, Op. 9 in 1862 also in Vienna.

The Haydn Quartett augmented by cellist Rudolf Leopold play the Quintet with vivacity, alertness and taste. One senses considerable preparation and faith in the works together with generally excellent intonation and unity. This is laudable but cannot conceal a deficit of memorable ideas.

Well recorded for Gramola these accounts were first issued by the Haydn Quartet as a private pressing before this international release to mark the Goldmark centenary.

Michael Cookson



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