Movement 1: Prelude
Movement 2: Fugue
Movement 3: Scherzo
Movement 4: Intermezzo
Movement 5: Finale
The second movement is a four-voiced fugue beginning with a strict exposition by the muted strings in this order: violin I, violin II, cello, viola. The subject’s answer is tonal, and the fugue continues with the entry of the piano, which almost paradoxically reduces the texture to two lines, reverting to four later. Towards the end of the fugue G major is again tentatively established, but this time by its first inversion – which has B as the root. This subtle point leads directly to the B major tonality of the central movement, the whirlwind Scherzo. This is the first occasion all five instruments have played together for an extended passage in the Quintet, and the central (in classical procedure, the trio) section begins as a danse macabre from first violin, taken up by the piano in high octaves. A reprise of the scherzo leads to a breathless coda.
The Intermezzo is cool and relaxed, with unhurried and essentially single-line music over a gentle walking bass. This builds into a fine and impassioned climax which dies away, finally leaving Ds separated by six octaves. At last, the deep tonal plan of this masterpiece becomes clear: D both completes the major triadic endings of the movements (G, B and now D), implying the final major mode, and is also the classical dominant of G, in which major key the Finale follows, attacca, stealing in with a gentle piano theme, itself having grown thematically from the intial germinal ideas. As the movement progresses, other ideas are recalled, and the music now smiles rather than laughs until, in the closing bars, the Quintet ends gently but swiftly in a complaisant G major.
from notes by Robert Matthew-Walker © 2004