MINIATURES for Two Violins and Viola, Op. 75a
QUINTET in F-sharp Minor for String Quartet and Piano, Op. 67 (1908)
QUINTET in B Minor for Clarinet and Strings, Op. 115
A violinist and violist, Dvořák composed Miniatures for Two Violins and Viola, Op. 75a in 1887 for Josef Kruis, a chemistry student who was lodging with Dvořák in the home of the composer’s mother-in-law. Often visited by Kruis’ violin teacher, Dvořák would hear the two playing violin duets and decided to write music for two violins and viola so that he could join them. Highly melodic and immediately accessible, these works represent a significant contribution to the rarefied selections of music written for violin and viola. As Dvořák stated, “I am as delighted in writing music for these three instruments as I am writing a symphony.”
Retired from writing orchestral music in 1887, Brahms turned his attention to chamber works. Hearing the renowned clarinetist Richard Muhlfeld, Brahms was inspired to compose for him this Quintet for Clarinet and Strings. Often described as autumnal in feeling, the interplay between clarinet and strings features some of Brahms’ finest chamber writing.
Amy Beach was and will be a great voice of equality for women in music. Composed in 1909, the Quintet in F-sharp Minor for Piano and Strings was hailed as a “truly modern work,” which Beach wrote to showcase her pianistic artistry. There are many instances in the music of fine soloistic writing for the various strings as well in this highly enjoyable example of early 20th century chamber music.