A Fresh Look at Dvorak’s String Quintet, Op. 97
Pacifica Quartet violinist Sibbi Bernhardsson on bringing the optimistic work to life
Drilling down in Antonin Dvorak’s String Quintet in Eb, Op. 97, for two violins, two violas, and cello, can pay dividends, so I asked Icelandic violinist Sibbi Bernhardsson, second violinist of the Pacific Quartet, whose Cedille recording exemplifies the power of this piece, for some tips on avoiding pitfalls and applying interpretive polish.
The quintet, written in 1893, is one of three chamber works that Dvorak composed in America during his brief stay between 1892 and 1895. It displays examples of what the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians calls “primitive” features. For instance, mm. 63–64 of the first movement is derived from a fragment of a Native American song, reflecting Dvorak’s fascination with American idioms.
“The Quintet is Dvorak at his best,” Bernhardsson says.
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