Goldmark: Merlin / Kunzli, Gabler, Schaller
The libretto by Siegfried Lipiner concentrates on Merlin’s fatal love for the wild child Viviane, which dims the magical powers with which he had served King Arthur, so that he falls victim to the Demon he had previously enslaved.
This spirited revival reveals a beautifully-scored and theatrically quite sure-footed piece fascinatingly poised between Brahms and Wagner: chromatic, Tristan-esque motifs contrast with choral writing more out of Rinaldo and the Triumphlied.
Between these extremes there is a supple, late-Romantic middle-ground where Goldmark’s declamatory vocal writing rises to occasional eloquence, with some noble orchestral passages that seem to anticipate Elgar.
The piece was certainly worth revival, but actual greatness eludes it. Luckily this production is vocally strong, with Robert Künzli as a noble-voiced Merlin, Frank van Hove as the scheming Demon and Anna Gabler a touching Viviane being the clear stars of the show.
-- Calum MacDonald, BBC Music Magazine
Catalog Number: PH09044
Composer: Karl Goldmark
Conductor: Gerd Schaller
Orchestra/Ensemble: Munich Philharmonic Choir, Philharmonie Festiva
Performer: Anna Gabler, Brian Davis, Daniel Behle, Frank Van Hove, Gabriela Popescu, In-Sung Sim, Robert Künzli, Sebastian Holecek