Dvorák Piano Quintet, Opus 81
This powerful movement starts out with a bang and continues in intensity almost all the way through. Several interesting and cute themes are introduced immediately by the violin and the piano. In the beginning section, Dvorák really plays around with different keys and modulations to toy with his audience.
Dvorák's newfound brilliance in writing for the piano also shows up well in this movement. Instead of playing mindless accompaniment, the piano is given a meaningful and important role in this movement, often with difficult yet fulfilling passages. Unfortunately, the cello and viola are given less interesting parts. However, these instruments do get their chance to shine with their own solo passages.
Eventually, the movement repeats like in the beginning. This time, though, the piano converts the happy starting theme into minor. This minor modulation kicks off a desperate and searching section where the music cannot break out of the minor key. Soon, a fugue gets kicked off amongst the instruments. The desperation and intensity of the mood only increase as the key stays in minor and the volume increases.
Suddenly, the piano returns to the happy beginning theme and passes it along to the other instruments. Things start winding down as the volume declines again. Now, the viola gets a big solo and is accompanied by beautiful piano trills. The various other instruments take the solo from the viola and manipulate and vary it.
Much of the following section repeats like the beginning. As the
music begins winding down, the piano gets to play some truly
beautiful themes. Gradually, the intensity increases to a big
finale, which is the name of the movement! This is a very
fulfilling movement because it goes from a joyful mood to
depression and back to joy again. Dvorák's work leaves his
audience feeling refreshed and content.
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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