Antonin Dvorak’s String Quintet in E flat major (Op. 97) has a singular impact on me: It enhances any feelings I harbour at the specific moment I am listening to that piece. Sadness, joy, melancholy, optimism… Which means that the music does not transport a specific feeling, but rather lays bare the feelings inside myself. The music breaks up the armor and makes me aware of what I feel. What a gift from a composer to mankind! It has been recorded in the 1990s by the Wiener Streichsextett and quite recently by the Pavel Haas Quartet along with Pavel Niki, a recording that I warmly, warmly recommend.
Some hundred years separate Mozart’s String Quartet no. 7 from this mind-blowing piece. In 1887 Antonin Dvorak composed his Piano Quintet No. 2 in A major (Op. 81/B. 155), and I must tell you, the recording by the Pavel Haas Quartet and Boris Giltburg at the piano is quite a revelation. When I heard it for the first time I got really excited, and I still am whenever I listen to it.
Anton Dvorak’s 3 Slavonic Rhapsodies (Op. 45) remind me like Rossini’s Overtures of the time where I started to get hooked by classical music. Tchaikovsky, Rossini, Smetana, Dvorak – those were the beginnings of my forays into this wonderful world that I haven’t left since. The Slavonic Rhapsodies immediately spoke to me, I could trace the style back to Bedrich Smetana’s “Ma vlast” which I simply loved and still listen to with much pleasure. Though Dvorak did not intend to write program music, that is music expressing specific ideas, pictures, emotions, moods, the three pieces evoke images connected to what was to become a country of its own after the end of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire: The Czech Republic.
“The reader is the prey and your intro is the bait.” How often have I heard this? While I learned the journalistic tradecraft, my older colleagues would say: “The reader has a very limited attention span. The first two sentences must either inform him in a very condensed way or capture his imagination, otherwise he will stop reading.” How true – and at times I struggle to abide by this advice and to find a catchy first paragraph for my weekly posts. But you are still with me, so this one wasn’t too bad.