Piano Quintet


piano quintet
Mixed Chamber Ensemble
pno - string quartet
First Performance
5.12.04: Reardon Smith Theatre in the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, UK: Ian Fountain/Emperor Quartet

Score and parts on special sale from the Hire Library

Programme Notes

1. Praeludio: Moderato con moto

2. Tango: Urgente

3. Ciaccona: Largo

4. Canto: Allegretto giocoso

When I wrote a piano quartet in 1995 I called it A Song and Dance Sketchbook because I didn't want to follow the classical formal scheme, but also to acknowledge that each of its six movements was either a song or a dance. In this Piano Quintet, which I wrote between February and September 2004, I chose to adhere, more or less, to the traditional scheme: four movements, with a scherzo and a slow movement in the middle. The song and dance element, however, remains just as predominant. The outer movements are essentially lyrical, while the middle movements are dance movements, with the chaconne third movement a blend of song and dance. The first movement, which is based almost entirely on variations of the motif heard in the piano after the opening three chords, is for most of its length a dialogue between piano and strings, which only come properly together at the end of the movement. The second movement is a tango, a form that has come to interest me a great deal: this is the fourth one I have written and in some ways the most traditional, since the tango seems particularly suited to the medium of piano and strings. The slow movement is a chaconne whose bass moves up on each repetition by a major third, so that at the third repetition it returns automatically to its original pitch. The finale grew out of a walking holiday in Italy in the spring of 2004 during which, on Easter Sunday morning, I heard the bells of a convent near the town of Montefalco. They appear at the centre of the movement as I notated them, and the rest of the thematic material is derived from them. The giocoso mood, apparent throughout, leads to an unbuttoned exuberance in the coda. The Piano Quintet was an engagement presesnt for my wife Jenifer, so its overall happy mood is most appropriate.

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