Goldmark: String Quartet in B flat, Op. 8; String Quintet in A minor, Op. 9

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WORKS: String Quartet in B flat, Op. 8; String Quintet in A minor, Op. 9
PERFORMER: Fourth Dimension String Quartet; David Smith (cello)
Among an inexhaustibility of lesser 19th-century composers, Karl Goldmark stands out for his longevity (he was born in 1830 and died in 1915), six operas — notably The Queen of Sheba — and his engaging Rustic Wedding Symphony, available on one of two previously issued ASV discs devoted to this composer. That his idiom was scarcely modern, even in his youth, is attested by these two attractive chamber works, written while he was in his early thirties.


The Goldmark style is most characteristic when he draws on his Judaeo-Bohemian roots — he was the son of a Jewish cantor and hailed from Budapest, though apart from the melancholy cast of some of the material, it is only fitfully evident here. Otherwise, Mendelssohn and Schumann provide the reliable models, most advantageously in the crisply pointed scherzos and glowing andantes, less memorably in the routine outer movements, despite their obvious melodic appeal.


In an auspicious recording debut, the Fourth Dimension String Quartet, supplemented by the Alberni String Quartet’s cellist David Smith in the Quintet, presents the best possible case for this warmhearted music, which, for all his faults, shows a composer with a natural flair for the media. Antony Bye