Wednesday, October 23, 7.30PM
Italian Academy of Columbia University
1161 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10027
Peter Wiley, cello
Illustrated talk by Misha Donat
Schubert — String Quintet in C major, D956
Schubert’s String Quintet belongs to the miraculous outpouring of music he composed in the year in which he died, at the tragically early age of thirty-one. By adding a second cello to the normal string quartet, Schubert was able to exploit dark and mellow sounds, and to have passionate melodies played by the first violin and first cello in parallel. The result is surely the most poignant of all his chamber works – one in which light and shade, drama and serenity are presented in constant alternation.
Like so much of Schubert’s output, the Quintet lay forgotten and unpublished for more than twenty years after his death. Schubert was by no means an unsuccessful composer – his songs and dances, in particular, were much in demand – but to us it seems incomprehensible that his contemporaries took so little interest in his large-scale works. Today, the String Quintet is rightly cherished as one of the peaks of the chamber repertoire as a whole.
NB The painting in our banner is Schubert at the Piano (1899) by Gustav Klimt (1862–1918)