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8.550658 - SCHUBERT, F.: Piano Quintet, "The Trout" / Adagio and Rondo Concertante
Franz Schubert (1797 - 1828)
Piano Quintet in A major, D. 667 (The Trout)
Franz Schubert, the son of a Vienna school-master, enjoyed a musical education as a chorister in the Imperial Chapel, which he left to train, in 1814, as a teacher, a vocation for which he showed no particular aptitude and which he soon abandoned, after serving initially as an assistant to his father, to whose house he returned intermittently in later years. He spent much of his short life in the company of friends in Vienna, a circle of young poets, artists and musicians and never held any salaried position as a musician, nor was he a virtuoso performer as Mozart and Beethoven had been. Nevertheless publishers were beginning to show more interest in his compositions by the time of his death in 1828.
In March, 1817, Schubert met the distinguished singer Johann Michael Vogl at the house of his friend Schober. Vogl was to become a close friend of the composer and an important interpreter of many of his songs. In the summer of 1819 the two, curiously dissimilar in appearance and disparate age, set out to visit Vogl's native district of Steyr and it was there that Schubert set to work on the A major Piano Quintet, known from the theme and variations that form its fourth movement as The Trout Quintet. It was intended for Vogl's friend Sylvester Paumgartner, a local amateur who played wind instruments and the cello and held regular musical evenings at his house, and was completed in Vienna on the composer's return there. At Paumgartner's request the work is scored for the same instruments as Hummel's E flat Piano Quintet, violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano. It seems that Paumgartner also suggested the use of the theme from Schubert's song Die Forelle (The Trout) for the fourth movement.
The delightful first movement has a characteristic principal melody, reminding us of Schubert's genius as a creator of songs, and leads through typically remoter keys during its idyllic progress. This is followed by a second, slower movement in the key of F major, in which the piano announces the first melody, leading to two other thematic elements in the more distant keys of F sharp minor and D major and to further harmonic complexity in deceptively simple guise. The third movement, a scherzo and trio, is followed by the famous theme and its five variations. The last movement re-establishes the original key of A major, adding a second theme that has about it touches of The Trout. The movement lacks a formal central development, but discusses the proposed thematic material in passing, providing a conclusion in the same happy mood with which the work had begun.
Schubert wrote the Adagio and Rondo concertante for piano quartet in 1816 at the request of Heinrich Grob, brother of Therese Grob, with whom Schubert had been in love at least since 1814, when she sang the soprano solo in his F major Mass at Liechtental. Ideas of marriage to Theresa came to nothing and in 1820 she married a master baker, a match more acceptable to her widowed mother than an alliance with an unemployed musician. Heinrich Grob played the cello, but the Adagio and Rondo, the latter in sonata form, treat the string instruments of the accompanying trio with reasonable equality of attention.
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