Archive for May, 2009

Dvořák, Piano Quintet in A Major, Op.81

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

Antonin Dvořák, 1841-1904

Piano Quintet in A Major, Op.81, 1887

Antonin DvořákDvorák’s sublime Piano Quintet in A Major occupies a lofty place in the chamber music canon shared perhaps only by two other works for the same ensemble from Schumann and Brahms. All three works feature the mighty sounds of a string quartet paired with a grand piano, a sonic grandeur matched only by the magnificent scale and span of these mountainous masterworks, epic in their expressiveness. It is always impossible, if not in poor taste, to suggest that one of your children is your favorite, but it is tempting to name Dvořák’s as the finest of these three astonishing siblings. His dynamic handling of the ensemble is superb in terms of color, the fluid intermixing of vivid, individual parts with a transparent texture using a brilliant range of scoring techniques. Throughout, the muscular drama freely intermixes with numerous sections of pure, euphoric beauty with a constant interlacing of magical dance music (more…)

Borodin, String Quartet No. 2 in D Major,

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

Alexander Borodin, 1833-1887

String Quartet No. 2 in D Major, 1881

Alexander BorodinAlexander Borodin was, like many of his now famous Russian composer friends, a composer by avocation; he had a day job. Borodin pursued a distinguished career as a physician and chemist first while composing only when he could in his truly precious spare time. Generally, it would require years for Borodin to finish a work yet he succeeded in writing some astonishing music of great originality and influence including two symphonies, tone poems such as In the Steppes of Central Asia, the opera Prince Igor featuring the now famous Polovetsian Dances, and a handful of chamber works including the equally beloved String Quartet No. 2 in D Major. This last work was, unlike the others, written in a rapid flush of activity lasting only a few months during a summer vacation. (more…)