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Goldmark: Rustic Wedding Symphony; Merlin Prelude / Schaller, Philharmonie Festiva

Goldmark / Philharmonie Festiva / Schaller
Release Date: 04/26/2011 
Label:  Profil   Catalog #: 10048   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Karl Goldmark
Conductor:  Gerd Schaller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonie Festiva
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Back Order: Usually ships in 2 to 3 weeks.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

GOLDMARK Symphony No. 1, “Rustic Wedding.” Merlin: Overture Gerd Schaller, cond; Philharmonie Festiva PROFIL PH10048 (54:38)

"Readers of a certain age may recall an era when Goldmark’s “Rustic Wedding” Symphony was popular. Anthologies of program notes published in the early 20th century customarily included it (Gilman, Upton/Borowski, Goepp), but one would be hard-pressed to encounter a live performance of it Read more today. The Boston Symphony, to take a single example, performed it on seven occasions between 1885 and 1909 but not once in the 102 years since. That said, the “Rustic Wedding” Symphony has not lacked for recordings. I know of at least eight that precede the one under discussion here, all produced within the past half-century. Of the six recordings I’ve heard, Gerd Schaller’s ranks at the very top. Bernstein with the New York Philharmonic and López-Cobos with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (both still available) boast great orchestras in peak form, but to my ears they are overblown—more heroic than rustic, portraying a wedding in a grand palace with dozens of servants and hundreds of guests. Bernstein and López-Cobos are thrilling in their own right, but Schaller comes much closer to capturing the spirit of a truly rustic wedding such as might have been celebrated in some Bohemian or Styrian village a century or more ago. A spirit of simple joy and enchantment suffuses the performance. Phrases are lovingly shaped, rhythms are accurately rendered, and Schaller holds his forces in check to deliver a performance full of verve but not of uncontrolled exuberance. Textural clarity and Mendelssohnian finesse hold sway over romantic indulgence. Gunzenhauser’s performance on Naxos runs a close second in this regard, but Schaller’s orchestra is better and his performance comes with the only recording of the prelude to Goldmark’s second opera, Merlin (recorded in its entirety by the same forces and reviewed by James A. Altena in Fanfare 33:6).

The Philharmonie Festiva is, according to the inlay booklet, “made up of outstanding musicians and soloists from the leading Munich orchestras” (Munich Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bavarian Staatssoper Orchestra). “The core of the orchestra consists of the Munich Bach Soloists.” Befitting the prestige ensembles from which it derives, the Philharmonie Festiva does indeed play with elegance, refinement, and warmth."

FANFARE: Robert Markow
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Works on This Recording

Symphony in E flat major, Op. 26 "Rustic Wedding" by Karl Goldmark
Conductor:  Gerd Schaller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonie Festiva
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1877 
Merlin: Prelude by Karl Goldmark
Conductor:  Gerd Schaller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonie Festiva
Period: Romantic 

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