Karl Goldmark Symphonic Poems, Vol. 1 – Off to a good start

Before I received this release, I really only knew two works by Karl Goldmark – his Rustic Wedding Symphony, and his First Violin Concerto.

CPO’s new series of Goldmark Symphonic Poems is a welcome addition. Goldmark was a friend of Brahms and an admirer of Wagner. Both those influences can be heard in this collection of symphonic poems.

The Scherzo in E minor, Op. 19, and the Scherzo in A major, Op. 45 owe more to Brahms (with a touch of Hungarian folk music). Both pieces work out their motifs in a logical fashion as Brahms might.

On the other hand, Goldmark’s symphonic poems with evocative titles show more Wagnerian influence. Sappho, Op. 44. for example, begins quietly with a harp, suggesting a lyre of ancient Greece. The melody gradually builds, reaching a dramatic contrast. From there, the motifs are tossed around, with an ever-insistent chromatic rising in the harmonies

The Bamberger Symphoniker directed by Fabrice Bollon perform well. They give spirited readings that bring out the dramatic arch of these poems.

Goldmark seems quite at home in these short-form works. I look forward to Volume 2.

Karl Goldmark: Symphonic Poems, Vol. 1
Sakuntala; Penthesilea; Sappho; Scherzos
Bamberger Symphoniker; Fabrice Bollon, conductor
CPO 555 160–2

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