Goetz Vocal & Orchestral Works

Author: 
John Warrack

Goetz Vocal & Orchestral Works

  • Nenie
  • Psalm 137
  • Francesca da Rimini Overture
  • Spring Overture

Goetz’s music has never found much of a following in this country, but the present record includes at least one work which makes this neglect unjustifiable. This is Nenie, of 1874, a setting of Schiller’s poem which impressed Brahms enough for him to make his own version seven years later. Brahms, characteristically, found out the most sombre side of his invention in his contemplation of the death of Beauty itself; for Goetz, the poem is an occasion for a passionate protest. Though Brahms’s setting is admittedly not among his greatest works, it has poignancy and dignity; and yet these qualities do not overshadow the urgency and the lyrical energy of Goetz’s treatment. He is closer to Mendelssohn than to any other composer, and here, in a most sympathetic and eloquent performance, the comparison is not invidious.
It is, regrettably, more so in Psalm 137, “By the waters of Babylon”. The choral society cliches that Mendelssohn mastered, even at his weakest, can here overwhelm a composer with an excellent technique and a fluent idiom but a considerably less distinctive vein of invention. Much the same is true of the prolix Spring Overture. The overture to Francesca da Rimini, the opera Goetz left unfinished on his early deathbed, includes some potent music, including a fine violin solo, all taken from the opera, but perhaps it was weakness which prevented Goetz from bracing it into a stronger formal structure. Nevertheless, this sympathetic, skilful composer is worth exploring, and Nenie is a real discovery.'

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