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Second Piano Quintet

Instrumentation
pf,2vln,vla,vc
Year
2008
Duration
23:30

My Second Piano Quintet (dedicated to my dear friends Peter Serkin and the members of the Brentano Quartet) is laid out in four movements, in a fast-slow-fast-slow pattern.  But along the way the third (fast) movement is displaced in midstream to make way for the extended slow fourth movement.  The outraged third movement does have its revenge, however, for it resumes after the fourth has finished, and thus – in its out-of-place way – concludes the whole piece.

There is another matter worth noting.  Beneath the surface interplay of the instruments lies a principle of successive leadership by various members of the ensemble.  The violins lead the first, the viola the second, the cello the third, and the piano the fourth.  But often you’d hardly know it, because this simple ground idea (as all general ideas must be simple if they are to work) is so heavily modified in practice by demands of the harmonic, registral, and gestural unfolding of the composition, that for large parts of the work it has only the (nevertheless important) status of a starting point.  It’s always a mistake to apply a broad background notion with slavish literalness to the dynamically evolving foreground of any music.

-CW

Recordings

Second Piano Quintet

Library of Congress Concert (April 17th, 2009) Peter Serkin, Piano; Brentano String Quartet

Second Piano Quintet

Library of Congress Concert (April 17th, 2009) Peter Serkin, Piano; Brentano String Quartet