Movement 1: Allegro risoluto
Movement 2: Larghetto
Movement 3: Scherzo and Trio: Molto vivace
Movement 4: Finale: Allegro
The Sonatina for violin and piano is one of the most delightful of these relaxed compositions. It was composed between 19 November and 3 December 1893, although inspiration for the slow movement had struck the composer a few months earlier when he had been to the Minnehaha Falls. The work was intended as a gift for two of Dvorák’s children, Otilka (Otilie) and Antonín, and the relative simplicity of the writing has made the work a favourite for performance by young musicians. But if the execution is undemanding, the freshness and delicacy of the piece is not so easily captured.
The first movement begins with a bold call to attention after which the violin provides a more relaxed response. The exposition that follows is characterized primarily by a strong lyrical flow; the development, economically founded on the opening idea, provides opportunity for some vigorous interplay between the instruments. Rather like the slow movement of the ‘American’ Quartet, the Larghetto of the Sonatina is consciously soulful, although the radiant, slightly brisker central section (Poco più mosso) supplies contrast. A brief, delightfully open-hearted Scherzo leads to the Finale, the broadest of the four movements. Here Dvorák’s melodic inspiration results in a sequence of memorable thematic ideas, notably in the exquisite slower section marked Molto tranquillo. As in the first movement, the fibre for development is supplied by the opening motif which also dominates the uncomplicated and optimistic close of the work.
from notes by Jan Smaczny © 1998