Piano Quintet No.1 in B flat Major, Op.30
Carl Goldmark (1830-1915) was born in the town of Keszthely in Austria-Hungary. His early musical training was at the conservatories in Sopron and Odenburg. His father then sent him to Vienna where he briefly studied violin under two of the better known teachers, Leopold Jansa and Joseph Böhm. As a composer, however, Goldmark was largely self-taught.
World-wide fame came to him with the performance of his opera The Queen of Sheba. He wrote in most genres and many of his other compositions, such as his Violin Concerto and the Rustic Wedding Symphony, were quite popular during his lifetime and for several years thereafter. His chamber music was well-thought of and also received concert performances while he was alive but sadly disappeared from the concert stage after his death. Brahms was to become a good friend but Goldmark's chamber music does not show much of that composer's influence. Rather, one sometimes hears an interesting mix of Mendelssohn and Schumann often seasoned with lively Hungarian gypsy melodies.
His First Piano Quintet, a work written on a large scale, was composed in 1879 and received much praise upon its premiere and remained popular until the First World War after which the works of so main many fine composers disappeared from the repertoire in the post war knee jerk reaction to romanticism which did not even leave the works of Mendelssohn and Schumann unscathed. The lovely main theme to the opening movement, Allegro vivace, sets the tone for the entire work. It is sunny and optimistic. The second theme, to which Goldmark gives considerable attention, is in the minor. Thus it is darker and more reflective, but not really sad. The second movement, Adagio, has a gorgeous cello introduction which starts out so softly, it is barely audible. The main theme is a long, highly romantic song without words. As the first violin and then the others make their entry, the music becomes even more exquisite. The Scherzo which follows could not be more different. A heavily accented, pounding melody begins affairs. The lighter trio section is no slower but far more lyrical. With the finale, Allegro vivace, we return to the jovial and good-humored spirits of the opening movement. Goldmark show that the genial but energetic main subject has many interesting byways down which it can travel to create new ideas.
This is a very satisfying piano quintet of the first rank. It definitely belongs in the concert hall but will give pleasure to amateurs as well. Printed but once, and without rehearsal numbers, we have remedied this problem.