GOLDMARK: Rustic Wedding Symphony / In the Spring (Chris Craker/ Ireland National Symphony Orchestra/ Stephen Gunzenhauser) (Naxos: 8.550745)
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Karl Goldmark (1830 - 1915)
Overture: Im Fr??hling (In the Spring), Op. 36
Landliche Hochzeit (Rustic Wedding), Op. 26
Hochzeitsmarsch (Wedding March): Variations
Brautlied (Bridal Song): Intermezzo
Im Garten (In the Garden): Andante
Tanz (Dance): Finale
Overture: In Italien (In Italy), Op. 49
Karl Goldmark was born in the Hungarian town of Keszthely in1830, three years before the birth of Brahms in Hamburg, and died in Vienna in 1915 fouryears after the death of Mahler, three years before the death of Debussy. His careerspanned a long period of great musical change, although he remained himself firmly in thetradition of Mendelssohn, tempered by the influence of Wagner and Liszt. He was one of afamily of twenty , familiar from childhood with the music of the countryside and of thesynagogue. The size of the family and the modest resources of his father deprived him of aconsistent education and he had his first instruction on the violin from a local choirmember in 1841 in Deutsch-Kreuz, where his family had settled in 1834. In 1842 hecontinued his music studies in the nearby town of ?ûdenburg and two years later was sentby his father to Vienna, where he was able to study for some eighteen months with Jansabefore lack of money compelled cessation of this course, leaving him to teach himself inpreparation for entry first to the Vienna Technical School and then to the Conservatory tostudy the violin with Joseph Bohm. The disturbances of1848 and the temporary closure ofthe Conservatory brought a return to Deutsch-Kreuz and work in the theatre orchestra in?ûdenburg, followed in 1851 by similar employrnent in Vienna at the Josefstadt Theatre andlater at the Carlstheater. Here he acquired a thorough practical knowledge of theatre music that was of use to him in his ownwork as a composer.
Goldmark's first concert of his own compositions in Vienna in1858 was not well received, inducing him to move to Budapest, where he supported himselfby teaching, while studying traditional textbooks on the techniques of composition and themusic of Bach, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. By 1860 he was again in Vienna, where he wonsuccess with his Opus 8 string quartet and began to establish himself as a music criticand fervent supporter of the cause of Wagner . His importance as a composer was fullyestablished with his Overture Sakuntala in 1865, reinforced ten years later by the mostsignificant of his operas, Die Konigin von Saba (The Queen of Sheba). Official honours inVienna and Budapest confirmed his leading position in the musical world of theAustro-Hungarian Empire, an eminence acknowledged also in Italy, where DieKonigin vonSabawon immediate popularity. His later operas include Merlin, Das Heimchen am Herd (TheCricket on the Hearth), based on Dickens, Die Kriegsgefangene (Briseis) (The Prisoner ofWar), Gotz von Berlichingen, after Goethe, and, with greater success, Ein Wintermarchen(A Winter's Tale), from Shakespeare. In orchestral repertoire his works include twosymphonies and two symphonic poems, with a number of concert overtures, while his A minorViolin Concerto retains a place in modern repertoire.
Goldmark's Landliche Hochzeit (Rustic Wedding), a symphonicpoem rather than a symphony in its programmatic content, although it retains more or lessthe traditional structure of the latter form, with an additional Intermezzo as secondmovement, is an attractive and approachable work. It opens with Wedding March Variations,the simple theme, with familiar musical connotations, announced at the outset by the lowerstrings, to betaken up by the wind in the first variation. The strings provide a morelyrical second variation, leading to a cheerful outburst of sound from the brass and to amore melancholy version of the material, replaced by a livelier contrapuntal treatment ofthe theme by the whole orchestra and a still rapider scherzando variation. This isfollowed by a dramatic minor key version of the melody, followed by a variation with arunning string counterpoint, relaxing into gentler lyricism in the variation that follows.
The ingenious treatments of the simple material continue with a running variation for theviolins, succeeded by a more ponderous return to the minor and a version in which thewoodwind has a significant part to play, with a solo violin. A brief fanfare heralds thereturn of the original Wedding March and the theme is entrusted yet again to the lowerstrings. The second movement Intermezzo, a bridal song, is tender and lyrical and isfollowed by a scherzo, a village Serenade that has more of the spirit of the latter,whatever its structure, with its solemn dance rhythms over a drone bass in contrast to itsother material. The slow movement, Im Garten (In the Garden) suggests more than a meremarriage of convenience, brokered by some village match-maker, and the symphonic poem endswith a final Dance, its fugal opening combining rustic festivities with symphonictradition, while its reminiscences of what has passed confirm the unity of the whole work.
The Overture In Italien was issued in 1904. It starts with aburst of vivacious energy, relaxing into a lilting dance and later into lyricaltenderness, with the help of a solo violin. This is interrupted by are turn to thecheerful jollity of the opening and the swing of the dance. The Overture Im Fr??hling (Inthe Spring), written in 1888and published the following year, opens with an evocativeviolin melody, to which livelier material provides a contrast in a generally gentlecelebration of the season in which the lark ascends to the heights before a robustconclusion.
National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland
The RT?ë Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1947 as part of theRadio and Television service in Ireland. With its membership coming from France, Germany,Britain, Italy, Hungary , Poland and Russia, it drew together a rich blend of Europeanculture. Apart from its many symphony concerts, the orchestra came to world-wide attentionwith its participation in the famous Wexford Opera Festival, an event broadcast in manyparts of the world. The orchestra now enjoys the facilities of a fine new concert hall incentral Dublin where it performs with the world's leading conductors and soloists. In 1990the RT?ë Symphony Orchestra was augmented and renamed the National Symphony Orchestra ofIreland, quickly establishing itself as one of Europe's most adventurous orchestras withprogrammes featuring many twentieth century compositions. The orchestra has now embarkedupon an extensive recording project for the Naxos and Marco Polo labels and will recordmusic by Nielsen, Tchaikovsky, Goldmark, Rachmaninov, Brian and Scriabin.
Stephen Gunzenhauser, a graduate of Oberlin College and the NewEngland Conservatory, served Igor Markevich and Leopold Stokowski as assistant conductorbefore becoming executive and artistic director of the Wilmington Music School in 1974. In1979, he became conductor and music director of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra. Herecords exclusively for Naxos and Marco Polo and his recordings include works of Schumann,Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, Vivaldi, Mozart, Gli?¿re, and Liadov. In 1989/90 he recorded allnine Dvorak symphonies with the Slovak Phi1harmonic, as well as the three Borodinsymphonies with the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra.