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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


Friedrich GOLDMANN (born 1941)
Symphony No.1 (1972/3)a
Inclinatio temporum (1981)b
Symphony No.3 (1986)c
Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester, Leipzigac; Staatskapelle Berlinb; Herbert Kegela; Friedrich Goldmannbc
Recorded: Radio DDR, Sender Leipzig, June 1973; Christuskirche, Berlin, February 1987 and Paul-Gerhardt-Kirche, Leipzig, November 1987
NOVA Rediscovered BERLIN CLASSICS 0013022 BC [76:29]
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Goldmann’s First Symphony, completed in 1973, is in three sharply contrasted movements following the fast-slow-fast pattern (and not the other way round as the English translation of the notes has it). The first movement opens with a bold gesture based on BACH (B flat-A-C-B) and develops roughly as a sonata form alternating heavily scored, violent sections and sparser episodes. The slow movement is some sort of theme and variations alternating dynamic extremes and including some curious, ethereal sounds and controlled aleatory in a fanciful, unpredictably unfolding kaleidoscope. The concluding Vivo roughly resembles a Rondo which again opens with an arresting gesture reminiscent of that of the first movement. The music moves along with forceful energy, also momentarily using controlled aleatory, gaining considerable momentum before collapsing in the final bars. The movement – and the symphony – ends with a dismissive drum stroke.

Inclinatio temporum was commissioned to mark the 425th anniversary of the Sächsische Landesbibliothek and first performed by the Dresden Staatskapelle conducted by Herbert Blomstedt. This piece might thus have been an occasional showcase for orchestra, but Goldmann held other views about it. The Latin title of the piece rather refers to the unfolding character of tempos, and the music accordingly alternates Allegro and Lento sections, static or rhythmically nervous sections, in a freely wheeling motion.

The Third Symphony, again in three movements (fast-slow-fast), is very similar to the First Symphony with, however, a major difference (or so it seems to me) in that themes tend to have more prominence than in the First Symphony which often contrasted sharply characterised textures rather than actual themes. The first movement is cast as an arch, opening with a brooding, lightly scored introduction leading into a more nervous, fully scored middle section that builds-up to a climax of considerable strength before reverting to the opening mood. The central slow movement is for the most part a long melodic line moving in rarefied air and interrupted on several occasions by more disturbing chordal sections. The last movement is another Rondo in which the material progressively runs riot and is on the verge of total disintegration. Order is briefly, if artificially, restored by a mighty fortissimo ending.

Goldmann’s music, which was new to me, is clearly of its time, and might be best described as "updated Berg", by which I mean that its expressionistic character inherited from Berg is actualised, as it were, by the use of modern techniques such as unpitched sounds produced by some untraditional instrument playing and, more than once, clusters and controlled aleatory, probably learned from Lutosławski. It is brilliantly and expertly scored, often brassy and with important percussion parts.

These recordings, originally issued on East German LPs and now re-issued in CD format, still sound remarkably well; and the performances conducted by Kegel and the composer have a definitely authentic ring. This release is an excellent introduction to Goldmann’s gripping and uncompromising music.

Hubert Culot


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