Goldschmidt is probably best known for his collaboration with
Deryck Cooke on Cooke's realisation of Mahler's 10th symphony, or as a mentor to the young Simon Rattle. There was much
more to him than that. He was a composer who fell through the
cracks of a Europe at war. At the height of his young
career, having scored a success with his opera Der
gewaltige Hahnrei, he found himself
suddenly a non-person in the Nazi state. He fled to England, but by the time the war was over, a new music of raucous atonality
made his uneasy lyricism seem anachronistic. He battled on
as a composer until the late 1950s when, like another lyrical
British composer, George Lloyd, he decided that there was no
place for his music in the climate of the times and stopped
composing for good. In the 1980s he took it up again, and by
the time of his death in 1996, he had won some recognition and
begun to find a place on disc.
CD is an important document. It draws together music from across
Goldschmidt's career, beginning with his promising youth and
ending with a work written only the year before his death.
There is, as you would expect, a shift in style across this
vast 70 year time period, but there is also a strength of personal
idiom that unites these works.
Passacaglia builds and builds, sounding
a little like the opening movement to Shostakovich's 10th in its harmonic language, but of course
it predates Shostakovich's symphony by a good quarter of a century.
Goldschmidt said of his music that he always had the architecture
of a piece in mind when writing it, and the architecture is
clear and easy to take in here.
next piece on this disc paints a contrasting mood. Dare I say
it? Yes, I do. There is a perky Englishness to the
jaunty overture to A Comedy of Errors, even if it does
predate Goldschmidt's flight to England by a decade. The piece is delightful, lower voices burbling away
under the inanities of the violins. There is something of Samuel
Barber in here, again too early for it to actually be Barber.
There is a touch of Petrushka too. Goldschmidt's conducting
here is affectionate, but it left me wondering what a firmer
hand could have made of this piece. At a stiffer tempo and
more sharply etched articulation and dynamics, this would be
a rollicking ride – the sort of opener you would want for the
last night of the Proms, or any concert, for that matter. Something
to play alongside Malcolm Arnold's overtures: similar in spirit
and in the writing for winds.
certainly steers with a firmer hand on the tiller in his two
contributions to this album, the abovementioned Passacaglia
and the Ciaccona Sinfonica. Rattle's commitment to
the music and its composer is intense and evidenced not only
by the sounds he draws from his Birmingham band, but also in
the fact that he managed to convince EMI to allow him to record
this music for Decca's Entartete series. Rattle gave the first
Proms performance of Ciaccona Sinfonica in 1993. It
is essentially a suite for orchestra in three movements, or
a freely structured symphony, full of music is rhythmically
alive, angularly tuneful and utterly compelling. There is more
than a whiff of Hindemith here, not so much of Hindemith's influence,
I suspect, as much as a shared musical background, place and
time. The central andante sostenuto is especially long-breathed
and compelling, leading into an uneasy gigue of uncertain key
and slight mania.
sounds appear again in Chronica, and the first movement,
Intrada and March Militaire sounds like Hindemith furtively
rewriting Petrushka behind Stravinsky's back. There
are Mahlerian touches too. Kriezberg does a good job with the
score, bringing pep to the faster music and painting Goldschmidt's
delicate textures beautifully in the slower music. He is a
little undercharacterised, though. For example, his reading
of the Scherzo subtitled “Propaganda” seems a little
textures seem thicker, though not necessarily heavier, in the
song cycle Les Petits Adieux. In the absence of texts,
I do cannot really figure out what François Le Roux is singing
about, but he seems regretful and slightly angry. These songs
suit his light baritone, though his rapid vibrato may not be
to all tastes. The songs themselves are lush and beautiful,
like something between Mahler and Berg. Dutoit's Montreal forces
play very well here, with the brass especially distinctive.
disc closes with a romance for violin, played with feeling by
Chantal Juliet. It opens with the violin alone, with only the
occasional pizzicato chord behind her. Then the winds join.
It begins as long breathed lyrical phrases of ambiguous tonality,
but becomes more vigorous in its uncertainly about the 2.30
mark. As with the opening piece on the disc, this Rondeau is a tightly composed structure with a clear architectural plan.
If it is not the deepest music, it is still engaging and memorable.
is obvious why this music was suppressed by the Nazis. The
composer's surname on the title page was the only part of the
score they needed to see. His neglect in Britain is more puzzling,
but relatively easily explained. Goldschmidt made the cataclysmic
choice to continue writing music in a tonal idiom at a time
when atonality ruled. Tonality has since come back into fashion,
and number of British composers have begun to enjoy a revival.
Goldschmidt, like that other naturalised British European exile,
Andrzej Panufnik, has not managed to catch that wave yet, being
not quote British enough. Hopefully that will change. His
music may not seem as original now as once it did, but it is
individual and shot through with wit and a melancholy beauty.
review copy of this Arkiv CD did not come with liner notes,
which are sorely missed for a release like this of relatively
unfamiliar music. I understand, though, that Arkiv now provides
liner notes with its CD-Rs. I would bet that they are fascinating.
you care about the music of the last century and missed this disc
when first released, you should order it from Arkiv without delay.
It will more than tickle your interest and you will find yourself
wanting to play it again and again, as I have.