The Trout Quintet

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I am NOT a truefan of most chamber music. To my ear it tends to sound a bit thin, weedy, and forced. I suppose if I were actually in the chamber while it was being played, the effect would be quite different. But to listen to chamber music in the privacy of my own room on my stereo gives a kind of wan and weak portrait of the experience. It's rather like watching Opera on television, or worse yet, listening to an Opera on disc. This can be a satisfactory and satisfying experience for many, I suppose, but I almost never enjoy a recorded Opera (in its entirety) before I've had the chance to actually see the Opera performed.

I digress. What I wanted to do was say that if you also are disoriented, unmoved, indifferent, or positively antagonistic to chamber music, you might wish to give Schubert's "Trout" quintet a try. This is one of those rare pieces that, though only five instruments play, there is a depth of sound and of theme and motif that really shows what chamber music construction is all about. After a glorious, bright, and quickly moving first movement, there follows a somewhat slower, more meditative, "interior" second movement--a natural flow from the first and an obvious development of the themes. Again, the third movement is bright, fast, and almost strident, lapsing into a fourth, quieter, meditative line and culminating in the fifth movement that brings the light and darkness together into a brilliant synthesis and summary of the entire work.

Words are not really meant to describe music, they cannot do it justice. And my words are particularly inept because I have no real training at describing these things, nor do I have the proper training and terminology to express all that is present in the music.

What I must do however, is encourage anyone interested in classical music to listen, really listen to the piece. Not put it on as background music and let it go--rather listen to it and to what the composer manages to do with relatively few instruments.

Bright and brilliant, one of the few chamber pieces I actually choose to listen to over and over again.

Now, Erik can come and chastise me for succumbing to the lush Romanticism of the 19th century--but then, you'll get a better picture of what the music is all about. And I'm always ready to learn the error of my ways, even as I continue to like what I should not. But let's face it, it isn't Brahms--and it is on Brahms that Erik and I can agree nearly whole-heartedly.

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Oh no, Die Forelle is most definitely not Brahms. A gorgeous piece, and a formula for tendonitis in the pianist (you really need to watch your technique in this one, as it can wreak all sorts of mischief).

I wish I could recommend a specific recording, but I can't, because I only have the one I happen to have, and have not studied the MANY choices out there. To hear it live is really fantastic, though.

Readers becoming acquainted with chamber music may enjoy Beethoven's Sonata for Piano and Violin in F Major, Op. 24, the "Spring." It is a tonic for the spirit in whatever season one hears it.

Daniel Bonner

I love chamber music. String Quartets are among my favorite musical forms. I enjoy Opera on disc because that is the only way I will ever be able to enjoy. "Trout" is a nice opener, an old saw horse that along with the Dvorak's Dumky string quartet but this musical form has more teeth than that. I just discovered the Late Quartets of L.V. Beethoven, six discs worth! I've borrowed numbers 5 and 6 from our local public library and found them to have a number of surprises. Many modern string quartets have and are being written today and are quite striking. A personal desert island disc of mine is by the Kronos Quartet playing the music of Philip Glass. Speaking of new music for string quartet, stellar Canadian's, the St. Lawrence String Quartet have had a number of original pieces scored for them. And thinking about them has me recalling their takes on the dynamic Shostakovich 1 and 3 and the Tchaikovsky 3,7 and 8 quartets.

After your finished with sweet Schubert there's a wide and wonderful world of string quartets awaiting.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on November 30, 2006 8:55 AM.

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