Dvorák Chamber Music

Author: 
John Warrack

Dvorák Chamber Music

  • String Quartet No. 9
  • Terzetto

Neither the D minor Quartet nor the Terzetto, B148 is at all widely known, and each is well worth attention. The Quartet is still tinged with sorrow at the death of the composer’s daughter, but it is not a grief-laden work: rather, there is the Schubertian element of shadows cast across a generally bright landscape which can mark Dvorak at his most confident. The performance does not always clarify the skills that lie within this, especially in the first movement: inner thematic ingenuities certainly do not need emphasis, but Dvorak’s mastery (with two little figures, in particular) is part of the pleasure. Textures are sometimes less than lucid here, though matters improve with the Adagio.
The Terzetto is a test of compositional skill, as Dvorak makes sure that there is adequate range, and especially bass, in the difficult combination of two violins and viola; but because he is a real composer, what emerges is some delightfully ingenious music in a medium that would suit none other. However, there is no preference here over the (full-price) Chilingirian record of the Terzetto, which includes the A major Piano Quintet, with Jeremy Menuhin, as well as some engaging trifles.'

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