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Piano quintet : piano quintet

by Roger Smalley (2003)

Score Sample

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Audio Sample

Performance by Ian Munro, Laura Curotta, Ioana Tache, Thibaud Pavlovic-Hobba, Jarrad Mathie from the CD Works by Graeme Koehne, Richard Mills, Roger Smalley

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Through a glass darkly


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Through a glass darkly : Roger Smalley chamber works.

Library shelf no. CD 1930 [Available for loan]

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Work Overview

My Piano Quintet was composed between July and December 2003 especially for the ASQ, who had previously commissioned and premiered my Second String Quartet (2000).

The present work is in four movements. The first is a vigorous Overture, the third an equally vigorous Scherzo of the Haydn / Beethoven one-in-a-bar type. These two movements are separated by a much more fragmentary Intermezzo in which a small number of motifs are combined and recombined in ever-changing juxtapositions.

Twice during the course of the Scherzo a fragment of Chopin's posthumous Mazurka in F Minor (Op. 68 No. 4) is heard. In earlier times this piece was often referred to as 'Chopin's last musical thought'. After its second appearance the Scherzo loses momentum and ends inconclusively.

The final movement is the most extended, almost equaling the length of the first three. Here the highly chromatic chord progression of the Chopin quote is treated as a Chaconne (a repeating series of harmonies) over which are woven a series of seven variations, which together form a suite of character pieces all of which refer to musical types used by Chopin.

— © Roger Smalley

Work Details

Year: 2003

Instrumentation: 2 violins, viola, violoncello, piano.

Duration: 21 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Contents note: I. Overture -- II. Intermezzo -- III. Scherzo -- IV. Chaconne with variations.

Written for: Australian String Quartet

Commission note: John Bishop Memorial Commission for 2004


Review: CD: Through a Glass Darkly
reviewed by Rob Barnett
MusicWeb-International, March 2009

Resonate article: Adelaide Contemporary Music Festival by Tristan Louth-Robins

eBook: Australian Music Day 2015 : Program 2 resources / prepared by Alicia Grant and Tristan Coelho.

Performances of this work

15 Oct 2016: at A Flock of Stars (Sir John Clancy Auditorium). Featuring Australia Ensemble.

23 Nov 2011: at ANAM - Australian Voices: Roger Smalley (Melbourne Recital Centre, Primrose Potter Salon). Featuring Ian Munro, Laura Curotta, Thibaud Pavlovic-Hobba, Jarrad Mathie, Ioana Tache.

31 Oct 2010: at Nexus 2MBS Virtuosi (The Independent Theatre). Featuring Nexus.

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