Goldmark, Mendelssohn

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COMPOSERS: Goldmark,Mendelssohn
LABELS: Hänssler faszinationmusik
WORKS: String Quartet in B, Op. 8
PERFORMER: Klenke Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: CD 93.077
The Klenke Quartet, a gifted all-female ensemble from Weimar whose names are not to be found anywhere on this production, present a coupling of early and late starters. Mendelssohn’s brilliant A minor Quartet, written at the age of 18 and one of the many signal achievements of music’s most astonishing Wunderkind, won immediate acceptance. Goldmark didn’t even learn to read and write till he was 12, and his only String Quartet, composed when he was 30, was initially rejected by the prestigious Hellmesberger Quartet, though when he nevertheless paid them to perform it the work proved his entrée to professional acceptance in Vienna.

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Goldmark acknowledged Mendelssohn as his preferred model, but his sound-world is much plusher, his emotion more nostalgic, his fugal writing a shade more academic. It’s a sincere and well-written piece, however, with an affecting slow movement and a sparkling, miniaturised scherzo which nicely defuses any suspicion that the work is over-long for its material. One never has that sense with the Mendelssohn, of course – which, with its youthful recreation of late-Beethovenian passion and fantasy, its cyclic thematic links and unexpected summatory epilogue, is on most counts the more original work. The performance is a mite more convinced, too – though the players do their best to overcome Goldmark’s occasional stiffnesses; the work can seldom have been better performed. The recording emanates from South German Radio: the acoustic is very clear and lively. Calum MacDonald