Piano Quintet No.2 in c sharp minor, Op.54
The Op.54 Piano Quintet was completed toward the end of 1914. It is one of Goldmark's last, if not his last work. In it, we hear that Goldmark, while rejecting the novelty of the Second Vienna School, had nonetheless updated his ideas and had incorporated certain elements of French impressionism into his mainstream Central European musical language.
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.
The opening movement, Sehr mäßig-Allegro non troppo, begins with a dramatic, questioning introduction before the turbulent main section is set forth. Already we can hear new tonalities, particularly in his use of chromaticism. The Adagio which follows has with a lengthy piano solo before the strings enter. (our sound-bite begins here). The lovely theme expresses a quiet, yearning quality. The third movement, Sehr langsam-Allegro moderato, starts off slowly, almost as a funeral march, but there is also a latent sense of something ominous impending. Goldmark, however, surprises with a bright and lively scherzo. The finale, Moderato assai, again presents a fine example of his updated music thinking, beginning as it does with a highly chromatic and questioning series of phrases, followed by a slow, sad lyrical melody which suddenly gives way to a quick and restless, searching theme.
This piano quintet is a very worthwhile addition to the repertoire which surely deserves concert performance as well as a place on the stands of amateurs. We have reprinted the first and only edition which appeared without rehearsal numbers, which we have added.