1842 was Robert Schumann’s chamber music year. Not only did he complete three string quartets but the year also saw the composition of both a piano quartet (violin, viola, cello, piano) and a piano quintet (string quartet, piano).
The Quintet is one of Schumann’s best known and, arguably, finest works; it was composed during September and October and given a first performance in December of that year (Clara was ill, so Mendelssohn sight-read the piano part!)
Here are the main events of the first movement’s exposition:
The whole ensemble opens the Allegro brilliante:
the piano, and then the violin develop and extend the opening idea:
the piano gently nudges the music towards the second subject…
… which appears in full as a duet for cello and viola:
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