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Piano Quintet

first performed in June 2009

The Piano Quintet (2009) celebrates a life: it was commissioned for the Spitalfields Festival, where Dove had been artistic director from 2001-6, to celebrate the 80th birthday of George Law, a long-standing patron of the festival. This is a more ambitious structure, and even though the work bears an abstract title, it does evoke the circumstances of its composition, which was started in May 2008, in Umbria, where Dove was in residence with a Civitella Ranieri Fellowship. It was also the first work of a new phase of Dove’s compositional life, when after a very hectic few years, culminating in his, to date, largest opera, The Adventures of Pinocchio, he took a six-month sabbatical. Thus he states:

I wanted to write music independent of outside sources. So this Piano Quintet has no programme or hidden story. The bells in the second movement are not the bells of Gubbio; yet, in some way, I suspect that all those summer sensations have coloured this score.

The first movement, marked ‘Energetic’ starts with a little piano figure that could be evocative of birdsong, and also playfully refers to the opening gesture of his first big operatic success ‘Flight’. It is a moto perpetuo, with two points of rest, a floating theme interrupts twice, and there is a striking, extended build up from the depths of piano and cello to the extreme top of the range of all instruments.

The slow movement is the emotional heart of the piece, starting with a serene threnody that could be a distant and sunnier relation of the famous Adagietto from Mahler’s 5th symphony. This is interrupted by a striking bell like figure in the piano, and these two discrete sound worlds eventually build to a solemn processional. Though Dove disavows a programme for this work, the music is visual and atmospheric and builds to a climax of almost cinematic intensity. The finale is a more rumbustious, straightforward piece, with a catchy tripping rhythm, which though regular, cunningly wrong foots the listener, and it sustains a summery festival mood to a joyous conclusion.

from notes by Julian Grant © 2017


Dove: In Damascus & other works
Studio Master: SIGCD487Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available


Movement 1: Energetic
Movement 2: Very spacious
Movement 3: Lively

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