Movement 1: Allegro, ma non troppo
Movement 2: Poco sostenuto
Movement 3: Allegro molto
Doubtless, Joachim’s positive response to the work was in part conditioned by certain clear affinities with the music of his friend Brahms. While Dvorák does not surrender his musical personality to the influence of his great German contemporary, there are times when he seems to be paying homage, most particularly in the manner in which the first movement ‘feels its way’ into the argument, and in the falling phrases at the start of the attractive Poco sostenuto. Apart from these lyrical aspects, a certain Brahmsian athleticism is apparent in the development of ideas.
But much else, in what is one of the composer’s gentlest works, is wholly Dvorákian, notably the cut of the second main melody of the first movement and the ‘Slavonic’ character of the finale—unsurprising, perhaps, since the first set of Slavonic Dances had been written only two years before. These elements are, on the whole, projected with far less virtuosity than in the Violin Concerto and the heaven-storming Mazurek composed the year before. Indeed, the prevalent mood in the sonata is one of lyrical expansion carried through with Dvorák’s customary generosity.
from notes by Jan Smaczny © 1998