As his orchestral works went unplayed, Berwald turned naturally to chamber music. The Piano Quintet No 1 in C minor was completed in December 1853 and was among a number of chamber works with piano that were inspired by his talented young protégé, Hilda Thegerström (the dedicatee of both this quintet and the piano concerto written two years later). Although she played it in private, the first public performance, as we have already noted, did not take place for a further forty years, though the work was published in 1856. Berwald’s first attempt at a piano quintet had, in all probability, come in the late 1840s or early 1850s. A fragment from a quintet in A major, comprising a larghetto and scherzo, survives, and from this autograph all of the first movement has been torn except for the last few bars which are the same as those of the corresponding movement of the second quintet (1857). Berwald was an inveterate self-borrower and the finale of the C minor quintet includes material from the symphonic poem Wettlauf
(‘Racing’) of 1842. As was the case in earlier works such as the Septet and the Sinfonie singulière
Berwald makes use of an innovative formal device and incorporates a scherzo into the body of the opening allegro movement, furthermore quoting its theme again in the finale.
from notes by Robert Layton © 1997