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Piano Quintet in A major D.667 'The Trout'

Franz Schubert (b. 1797 - d. 1828)

Composer
Franz Schubert (b. 1797 - d. 1828)
Composition Year
1819
Work Movements
1. Allegro vivace.
2. Andante.
3. Scherzo: Presto.
4. Thema: Andantino – Variazioni I-V – Allegretto
5. Finale: Allegro giusto
Artists
Kirill Gerstein [piano], Dominic Dudley [double bass], Leonard Elschenbroich [cello], Hartmut Rohde [viola], Nicola Benedetti [violin]

Programme Note Writer:
© Francis Humphrys

In the summer of 1819, when Schubert was struggling for recognition as an opera composer, he went on a summer holiday with the baritone Johann Vogl to the latter's home town of Steyr in the mountains of Upper Austria. And so at last, Schubert who had so often celebrated the beauty of the mountains and lakes in his songs, was able for the first time to experience them himself. What’s more thanks to the advocacy of Vogl Schubert found himself at the centre of a circle of admirers and a piano was moved into his room so that he could compose.

A local amateur cellist and assistant manager of Steyr iron mines, Sylvester Paumgartner, hosted many of the musical evenings and he commissioned the Piano Quintet, which was to include a set of variations on the theme of Die Forelle and to be scored for the same instrumental combination as the then popular quintet by Hummel. The five movements alternate quick and slow and their relaxed tempi are closer in spirit to the eighteenth-century divertimento than the big Romantic quintets of Schumann and Brahms. The most novel aspect in the Trout is its ability to wind down the music to the state of a slow contemplative dance, which is what gives the work its magical atmosphere.

The opening Allegro is in sonata form complete with exposition repeat, though the clear distinction between first and second subject is blurred, ideas merging into one another with great spontaneity. The development begins dramatically pianissimo with strings alone before building to an animated climax. The recapitulation is a transposed repetition of the exposition with two sections omitted, one of several signs of hasty composition - Schubert was clearly working to a deadline.

The Andante theme is given first in the piano and then the violin. Triplet movement ushers in a new idea and the melody is given to the viola and cello in the key of F sharp minor. A dotted rhythm then appears to dispel any minor key sadness and the first theme is brought gently back, but instead of stopping the minor key section returns and there is a full repeat. The sparkling scherzo has a catchy tune, heavily reinforced in the bass department, while the trio is more delicately scored with the piano part entirely in the treble clef.

The variations on Die Forelle begin with the theme stated in the strings alone, the first variation is given to the piano and the second to the viola below a decorative violin. In the third the cello and the bass play the theme piano almost drowned by the piano's whirling arpeggios as the angler muddies the waters of freedom. The fourth variation steps up the tempo and the volume as the unfortunate fish fights for his life. The fifth variation gives much prominence to the cello of Herr Paumgartner as the musicians collectively mourn the loss of freedom and life. The Finale revolves around the opening figure heard first in the viola and violin and echoed at once by the piano. The movement is divided into two halves, where the second apart from changes of key is more or less a repeat of the first.

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Piano Quintet in A major D.667 'The Trout'

Composer: Franz Schubert (b. 1797 - d. 1828)
Performance date: Sunday 27th June 2010
Venue: Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,

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Composer Franz Schubert (b. 1797 - d. 1828)
Work Title Piano Quintet in A major D.667 'The Trout'
Composition Year 1819
Work Movements 1. Allegro vivace.
2. Andante.
3. Scherzo: Presto.
4. Thema: Andantino – Variazioni I-V – Allegretto
5. Finale: Allegro giusto
Artist(s) Kirill Gerstein [piano], Dominic Dudley [double bass], Leonard Elschenbroich [cello], Hartmut Rohde [viola], Nicola Benedetti [violin]
Performance Date Sunday 27th June 2010
Performance Venue Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,
Event Main Evening Concert
Duration 00:36:17
Recording Engineer Anton Timoney, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation Category Piano Quartet/Piano Quintet
Instrumentation vn, va, vc, db, pf
Programme Note Writer © Francis Humphrys

In the summer of 1819, when Schubert was struggling for recognition as an opera composer, he went on a summer holiday with the baritone Johann Vogl to the latter's home town of Steyr in the mountains of Upper Austria. And so at last, Schubert who had so often celebrated the beauty of the mountains and lakes in his songs, was able for the first time to experience them himself. What’s more thanks to the advocacy of Vogl Schubert found himself at the centre of a circle of admirers and a piano was moved into his room so that he could compose.

A local amateur cellist and assistant manager of Steyr iron mines, Sylvester Paumgartner, hosted many of the musical evenings and he commissioned the Piano Quintet, which was to include a set of variations on the theme of Die Forelle and to be scored for the same instrumental combination as the then popular quintet by Hummel. The five movements alternate quick and slow and their relaxed tempi are closer in spirit to the eighteenth-century divertimento than the big Romantic quintets of Schumann and Brahms. The most novel aspect in the Trout is its ability to wind down the music to the state of a slow contemplative dance, which is what gives the work its magical atmosphere.

The opening Allegro is in sonata form complete with exposition repeat, though the clear distinction between first and second subject is blurred, ideas merging into one another with great spontaneity. The development begins dramatically pianissimo with strings alone before building to an animated climax. The recapitulation is a transposed repetition of the exposition with two sections omitted, one of several signs of hasty composition - Schubert was clearly working to a deadline.

The Andante theme is given first in the piano and then the violin. Triplet movement ushers in a new idea and the melody is given to the viola and cello in the key of F sharp minor. A dotted rhythm then appears to dispel any minor key sadness and the first theme is brought gently back, but instead of stopping the minor key section returns and there is a full repeat. The sparkling scherzo has a catchy tune, heavily reinforced in the bass department, while the trio is more delicately scored with the piano part entirely in the treble clef.

The variations on Die Forelle begin with the theme stated in the strings alone, the first variation is given to the piano and the second to the viola below a decorative violin. In the third the cello and the bass play the theme piano almost drowned by the piano's whirling arpeggios as the angler muddies the waters of freedom. The fourth variation steps up the tempo and the volume as the unfortunate fish fights for his life. The fifth variation gives much prominence to the cello of Herr Paumgartner as the musicians collectively mourn the loss of freedom and life. The Finale revolves around the opening figure heard first in the viola and violin and echoed at once by the piano. The movement is divided into two halves, where the second apart from changes of key is more or less a repeat of the first.