Terzetto in C Major for 2 Violins and Viola, Op.74
Dvorak's Op.74 Terzetto for 2 Violins and Viola was composed in 1887. It is perhaps the best known work for this little served combination. The Terzetto owes its existence to the fact that Dvorak, at the time, had been living in his mother in-law's house, who had rented out a room to a chemistry student who was an amateur violinist. Dvorak, a viola player, often heard his student neighbor playing duets with his violin teacher and conceived the idea to write a trio so that he could join in. The result was the Op.74 Terzetto.
Dvorak got great pleasure from writing the work as one can tell from an excerpt of a letter he wrote to Simrock: “...I am writing some bagatelles – just imagine – for two violins and viola, and I enjoy the work as much as if I were writing a large symphony...They are for amateurs but then didn't Beethoven and Schumann do something similiar?" Writing in his Chamber Music Handbook, the famous critic Wilhelm Altmann remarks that every friend of chamber music should play this fine work. (Of course, this really only applies to violinists and violists). The work begins with an Introduczione, allegro ma non troppo tinged with a gentle, melancholic Slavic melody and is followed by a more agitated second theme. Next comes a Larghetto which begins with a vocal, lied-like melody but also has a somewhat stormy middle section. It is followed by a very Slavic sounding Scherzo, vivace. It is the rhythm which gives the music its special character. The work concludes with a funereal theme and a set of very effective variations.
Although Dvorak may have had amateurs in mind, this is not a work for beginners or those of very modest technical accomplishments. To the contrary, though not overly difficult it does require players with an assured technique as Dvorak found out when he tried the work with his chemistry student neighbor for whom the work was too difficult. Undeterred, Dvorak set to work on another work of less difficulty and the result was his Four Minatures, Op.75a for the same combination, also available from us.
Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904) needs no introduction. He is one of the best known composers of all time. However, today, his fame rests upon only a few of his works which are repeatedly performed in concert. In the realm of chamber music, one hears his Op.96 string quartet, the American, so often, you might think it was the only work he ever wrote. Only very rarely does one get to hear anything else although so many of his chamber works are masterpieces. His Terzetto falls into that category and deserves to be heard in concert.
Parts & Score: $19.95