Schubert embarked on the composition of this ‘Trout Quintet’ without any plans for public performances. He did not have a record deal either, and he probably wouldn’t care much about it. This ‘Trout Quintet’ was written purely for a friendly get-together session, like many of the other Schubert’s compositions.

Schubert was 22 years old when he composed this ‘Trout Quintet’ in 1819. It is an important and popular work of Schubert’s compositions. It is scored unusually for a piano and a string quartet, which consists of violin, viola, cello and double bass. This work was published in 1829, one year after Schubert’s death.

The intention of this composition was purely for one of Schubert’s friend Paumgartner, who loved one of Schubert’s earlier song, The Trout. The fourth movement of the Trout Quintet is a set variation on theme of this song.

This work contains the typical melodious and spring-like Schubertian elements. It is natural, naive, genuine, and with much compassion. It has five movements.

In the first movement of Allegro vivaca, the first violin carries a cheerful melodic main theme right from the very beginning. It is graceful though without much ornamentations. The 2nd theme appears in a non-contrasting manner,  instead it enhances the lively and energetic 1st theme. In short, the first movement is filled with the sunshine in spring.

Andante, the second movement is flowing, romantic and lyrical. It possesses the fashion of Schubert’s lieders and is seemed to fill with Schubertian’s fantasies and hopes.

The three movement is Scherzo: Presto. It is a lively scherzo, engaging a merry and joyous atmosphere throughout the entire movement.

The fourth movement, Andantino – Allegretto, is a variation on the theme of one of Schuert’s earlier song, “Die Forelle” (The Trout). All five variations portray a different version of beauty.

The 1st variation focuses on the tremolos of piano and violin.

The 2nd variation is the role-swopping of the violin and the cello. Both variations continue the joyous disposition from the earlier movement.

However, the 3rd variation shows changes in the atmosphere as the double-bass intruded causing the music to appear tensed and insecured.

The 4th variation modulates from a major key to a minor key. Above the subtle piano chords, all other instruments complied with a momentary struggle, before resolving to the 5th variation.

The 5th variation illustrates a deep sense of melancholy. When the music diminishes in speed, the cello appears, playing to enhance the melancholic atmosphere.

The Finale, Allegro guisto, is the recapitulation of the main theme denotes the resurface of the merry mood. It soon fades off gradually.

~Written by Boon Sin Ler

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