Movement 1: Lento maestoso Allegro quasi doppio movimento Lento maestoso Allegro
Movement 2: Poco adagio Vivace non troppo Poco adagio Vivace
Movement 3: Andante Vivace non troppo Andante Allegretto
Movement 4: Andante moderato, quasi tempo di marcia Allegretto scherzando Tempo I Allegro Tempo I
Movement 5: Allegro
Movement 6: Lento maestoso Vivace Lento Vivace
Despite the novelty of the overall conception, Dvorák still seems to have had at least a vague notion of a four-movement framework for his six dumkas since the first three run together with barely a break. The first dumka epitomizes the nature of a style in which passionate and meditative melody, often song-like in quality, alternate. While Dvorák is prepared to develop his themes in the faster sections, the melody of the slower portions is usually sustained by imaginative instrumentation and ear-catching ornamentation. In the first two dumkas, he wears his heart on his sleeve; the fast passages are intoxicating while the slow have a burning intensity. The third dumka is quite different, simultaneously the simplest and most original of the set. Radiant opening chords introduce a near-vocal main theme whose repetitions are enhanced by subtle transformations before giving way to a wistful central section in the manner of a polka. In the fourth dumka a brisk march is interspersed with a bright ‘Allegretto scherzando’ complemented by ornamentation from the first violin reminiscent of bird song. The penultimate movement is perhaps the most extrovert with a bracing main theme extended and enlivened by almost Beethovenian development. The final number challenges convention still further; the key is now C minor, a third lower than the E minor of the start of the Trio. The musical language in this remarkable concluding movement is full of suppressed tension. Although most of the material is derived from the opening bars, Dvorák sustains the impetus through to a broad peroration which is both grand and tender, reflective and powerful.
from notes by Jan Smaczny © 1996