Suk’s three-movement Piano Quartet in A minor is his Op 1 and was dedicated, appropriately enough, to his teacher Dvorák. Composed in the early 1890s, it is no surprise that it was taken up by the Prague publisher Urbánek, since it is brimming with character and confidence. The very opening idea of the first movement, which looks forward to that of the Piano Quintet, is both striking and original. Equally effective is the writing for the instruments, particularly in the lead-up to the movement’s secondary material. A wide-ranging and challenging development shows the young Suk to be completely in command of his ideas. Inevitably there are hints of his teacher’s style, but there is much that is entirely characteristic of Suk, including a tendency toward introspection, even in the outwardly confident opening Allegro appassionato. The slow movement, led off by the cello and piano, has a nocturne-like quality; an expressive central section, marked to be played a little quicker, has something of the ardent, fairy-tale atmosphere Suk later brought to his music for the play Radúz and Mahulena
. The last movement combines the characteristics of scherzo and finale. A bold, march-like opening idea introduces a number of episodes, some gently yearning in manner, before an ebullient close.
from notes by Jan Smaczny © 2004