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String Quintet
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String Quintet
2 violins, viola, 2 cellos
duration 21 min  © 2009 Faber Music
Buy a copy of the score
Also see: Chamber Music  

Program Note:

This work was created as a concert companion to Schubert's masterful quintet with the same instrumentation. It is a mystery why the two-cello quintet has yielded so few successful models compared to its two-viola sibling - they seem to me equally balanced and appealing.

This work is 'pure' music that relies upon no external narrative, poetry or imagery, so each listener may imagine their own setting for the internal drama as it unfolds. It is cast in one continuous movement of four sections. The first of these moves at a fair pace, exploring different pairings of the instruments. It is in a traditional ternary form (A-B-A) with a slower middle section that introduces new instrumental textures to be explored later.

The second section is a vintage slow movement, followed by what Classical composers would call a Minuet - a faster movement with lighter contrasting material, though mostly in 7 rather than the usual 3 beats per bar. The last section is a Presto Finale, marked by a slower contrasting pool at its centre, and a reckless accelerando to the final bar.

The String Quintet was commissioned for Musica Viva Australia by Julian Burnside AO QC, for performance by the Jerusalem String Quartet and Zvi Plesser in the Musica Viva National Concert Series. It was first performed by these musicians at the Perth Concert Hall, Western Australia, on the 5th of November 2009.

Carl Vine, 26 April 2009


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