Piano Quintet in A major D.667 ‘The Trout’

Composer: Franz Schubert (b. 1797 - d. 1828)
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Composer: Franz Schubert (b. 1797 - d. 1828)

Performance date: 27/06/2010

Venue: Bantry Library

Composition Year: 1819

Duration: 00:36:17

Recording Engineer: Anton Timoney, RTÉ lyric fm

Instrumentation: 2vn, va, vc

Instrumentation Category:Piano Quartet/Piano Quintet

Instrumentation Other: vn, va, vc, db, pf

Artists: Kirill Gerstein - [piano]
Dominic Dudley - [double bass]
Leonard Elschenbroich - [cello]
Hartmut Rohde - [viola]
Nicola Benedetti - [violin]

Piano Quintet in A major D.667 ‘The Trout’

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

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
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.

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.

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.

variations on

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
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.