DVOŘÁK Antonín, Piano Quintet No.2 in A Op.81

Allegro, ma non tanto
Dumka. Andante con moto – Vivace – Andante con moto
Scherzo. Furiant – Molto vivace
Finale. Allegro 

Dvořák composed his great A major Piano Quintet in 1887 (a much earlier quintet from 1872 is in the same key) and it was described by Otakar Šourek as one of ‘the most delightful and successful works’ in the whole chamber music repertoire. From the spacious cello theme that opens the quintet, Dvořák shows the seemingly effortless spontaneity of a composer at the height of his powers. The second theme turns the mood more wistful, and the music oscillates between melancholy and warmth, culminating in a jubilant climax. The second movement is a Dumka, with slow outer sections based on a melancholy tune, and a quick central section derived from the same musical idea. The Scherzo – described by Dvořák as a Furiant – begins with one of his most enchanting quick melodies and this is followed by two more: an undulating tune and another of folk-like simplicity, before the opening idea returns. The central Trio provides an oasis – a tune in long notes over which Dvořák introduces fragments of the main theme. The opening melody of the Finale dominates much of what follows. Near the close, a brief fugal section leads to a moment of tranquillity before the final dash to the end.  

Nigel Simeone © 2014 


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