Dvorák spent a successful two and
a half years in New York, despite bouts of homesickness, so he was delighted to
get back to Prague in May 1895 and to return to his teaching post in the Conservatory. At first he wrote nothing new for some
months, but it was not long before he was picking up his pen and he quickly
completed five important symphonic poems, as well as this Quartet and his last
one, No.14 in A flat major. As so often happens with publishing, the G major
Quartet was actually issued last, as Op.106, with the A flat Quartet appearing
first as Op.105. Then his love of opera
took over and he turned his attention to the theatre, including Kate and the Devil and Russalka, completing an amazing
repertory of masterpieces across a wide musical spectrum.
He had started the Quartet in America and it opens with a motto,
apparently a Czech bird call, in rising sixths. This becomes an important
element, weaving its way through the movement.
It is full of that effervescent joy which Dvorák could conjure up so
effectively in his finest music. The
glorious Adagio is one of his loveliest creations and is clearly from the same
mood as its equivalent in his famous American Quartet, which preceded it. It
radiates peace as the serene melody rises slowly from the introductory chords
and expands in blissful contentment. The music is allowed to become more urgent
in places but soon returns to its opening mood. The second theme with its
pizzicato accompaniment is particularly memorable. Dvorák allows it to build
momentum into a brief climax before the more contemplative mood returns but
this in turn rises to a further peak suffused with rich chords. The opening
murmurings bring the movement gently to its introspective conclusion.
A rumbustious scherzo changes the mood. It is in the form of a rondo
with two contrasting episodes between the repeats of the main melody. The first recalls the New World Symphony,
written two years earlier, while the second is in the style of a stately
Bohemian folk dance. Dvorák places a
short slow introduction at the start of his finale, there is a touch of Beethoven
to its introspective pace, but it quickly dissolves into a fiery movement . The
first theme is ebullient, the second more melancholy, They are developed
engagingly, with the slow opening phrase making a brief return towards the end
but soon being replaced by the main theme and a joyful conclusion.