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Piano Quintet in G minor, Op 8
1893; published in 1915; dedicated to Brahms

'Suk: Piano Quintet & Piano Quartet' (CDH55416)
Suk: Piano Quintet & Piano Quartet
Buy by post £5.50 CDH55416  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Movement 1: Allegro energico
Movement 2: Adagio: Religioso
Movement 3: Scherzo: Presto
Movement 4: Allegro fuoco

Piano Quintet in G minor, Op 8
Although the Piano Quintet in G minor Op 8 was published in 1915 it was, in fact, composed in 1893, relatively early in Suk’s career. The Quintet is dedicated to Brahms, an old friend of Dvorák, who had already given Suk advice and encouragement. The influence of the German composer can be felt in the rhetoric of certain passages, notably in the first movement. But the Quintet is far from being a compendium of youthful enthusiasms for the work of more venerable composers; many aspects of the melodic style, in particular, are typical of Suk throughout his career.

The Quintet’s first movement opens in robust fashion with vigorous motion in all parts and soaring lines for viola and cello. Throughout this bracing movement the impetus rarely flags, although there are moments of repose; the last of these is in an extended passage based around G major. This leads into a bouncy coda which, just before the major-key close, broadens out into a grand final peroration. The Adagio lives up to its secondary marking, Religioso, with an inspiring chant-like opening in which chords for the strings alternate with sweeping arpeggios for the piano. The cello leads the melodic material of a central section which results in a remarkably ardent climax.

An airy pentatonic theme, a common feature in Czech music since the early days of Smetana and Dvorák, introduces an extended scherzo which, while embracing counterpoint and energetic development, provides an aspiring, almost bardic theme for the viola. Unsurprisingly, there is a passing homage to Dvorák’s great A major Piano Quintet in the trio, but Suk’s youthful adventurousness takes his attractively harmonized main theme in unexpected directions before the return of the scherzo. Dvorák’s Quintet seems to be a presence again in the a tempo introduction to the finale, perhaps also in the fugato passage in the development. But Suk’s individuality is evident at many stages, not least in some piquant harmony and the inventive transformation of the main theme of the first movement, which provides much of the finale’s material.

from notes by Jan Smaczny © 2004

Track-specific metadata
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Details for CDA67448 track 10
Scherzo: Presto
Recording date
2 December 2003
Recording venue
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Andrew Keener
Recording engineer
Julian Millard
Hyperion usage
  1. Suk: Piano Quintet & Piano Quartet (CDA67448)
    Disc 1 Track 10
    Release date: June 2004
    Deletion date: January 2010
    Superseded by CDH55416
  2. Suk: Piano Quintet & Piano Quartet (CDH55416)
    Disc 1 Track 10
    Release date: September 2012
    Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
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