Dvorák Piano Quintet, Opus 81
This doleful movement opens with a stirring piano solo. This piano solo is repeated many times throughout this movement and it remains very mournful every time. The viola decides to join the piano in it's mournful solo and brings in the other string instruments as well.
Eventually, the instruments reach a slightly happier major section. This section seems almost like some kind of happy dance. Soon, though, the piano comes in with a perverted minor version of this section. The happiness has been lost and reduced to a searching and mournful piano theme. Eventually, it returns to the hopeless first piano solo. Dvorák genius in writing in music is obvious through the grieving emotions that his music quickly provokes.
Soon the viola breaks into another happy little dance. This dance starts to fall apart, though, as the key slowly modulates into minor again. It sounds like it will disintegrate any second, and it does: the piano is the only thing left standing, playing another sad solo. Dvorák resumes another one of his grief-filled sections. This section is sad enough to bring tears to our eyes.
Since the Dumka of the Piano Quintet is also in sonata form, the first "slightly happier major section" returns. This time we know that it won't last though, so it doesn't seem as jolly as it did the first time. As we know will happen, it eventually disintegrates back into the mournful first theme.
The rest of the movement concludes with sad renditions of the
initial and eventually dies with a horribly sad and tragic ending.
If this movement has left you feeling worn out and sapped you of
your confidence, the joy-filled Scherzo that constitutes the next movement
will quickly cheer you up.
Hear this Movement
Recorded: in the Lin Residence on July 5, 1999
Piano: Alvin Lin
Violins: Michael Wilber, 1st; Laura Carr, 2nd;
Viola: Debdeep Maji
Cello: Charles Han;
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