MUSIC FROM THE FOURTH DIMENSION
DAVID WILKINS listens to Goldmark chamber music
ASV CD DCA1071
Most of us know rather
little of the music of Karl Goldmark. There is a very elegant and tuneful
Violin Concerto but even the once popular Rustic Wedding Symphony
gets few outings these days. ASV, however, are to be commended for doing
their bit on the composer's behalf as this new recording of two early chamber
works is the third devoted to the composer from that company.
Goldmark lived from 1830 to 1915 and, at one time, was regarded as amongst
the foremost Austro - Hungarian composers. Reputations, of course, wax and
wane. A tempered assessment might say that he is currently as unjustifiably
neglected as he was once over-praised. The influence of Mendelssohn is never
very distant and hints of Schumann and Dvorak are frequently discernible.
He does, however, have an individual and undeniable melodic gift and (having
been an accomplished violinist himself) a definite gift for idiomatic string
The opening movement of the String Quartet quickly establishes the pluses
and the drawbacks. The material is charming with well sung melodic lines
but, in its development, becomes rather diffuse. In the last resort, it
remains enjoyable but hardly very memorable. The slow movement is a much
better proposition. Though hardly extending its tunefulness with the skill
of a Brahms, it does become cumulatively moving in its tenderness and is
played with great affection. The short Scherzo is very Mendelssohnian indeed
and might, therefore have been played with a tad more gossamer lightness.
There is, though, a lovely control of hairpin dynamics in the Fourth Dimension's
execution. The finale gives the impression that it's probably a lot more
involving to play than to listen to very frequently but it does have some
exuberant sequential passages.
The Quintet - like Schubert's - adds a second cello and, again, boasts
a slow movement of considerable lyrical pathos. There are Bohemian suggestions
aplenty in the opening Allegro which is played with lots of dramatic bite
and with the ASV engineers (as throughout) delivering an excellent fulness
of sound. At nearly thirteen minutes, it slightly outstays its welcome.
Not so the short Scherzo in A Major which is a memorable (if, perhaps, rather
tame) folk dance. You might want to ignore the booklet tosh about a 'battle
between forces of darkness and light' and simply enjoy the finale for the
vigorous and engaging pleasure that it is.
This is the debut recording of the Fourth Dimension String Quartet. How
refreshing to find a new ensemble that doesn't feel it's ready to record
late Beethoven straight away! They play with genuine freshness and do this
less-than-first-rate but very worthwhile music more than proud. I look forward
to hearing them in something more substantial. On this evidence the thought
of their Dvorák, Smetana, Janácek or perhaps even Elgar seems
like a tantalising prospect for the future.
Copyright © 1 March 2000 David Wilkins,
East Sussex, UK
PURCHASE THIS CD FROM AMAZON (and listen to sound extracts)
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