Classical Music | Music for Flute

Antonin Dvořák

Sonatina in G Major, Mvt. 4  Play

Kristin Paxinos Flute
Melody Lord Piano

Recorded on 10/15/2006, uploaded on 12/02/2009

Musician's or Publisher's Notes

Following the String Quartet in F (known as the “American” Quartet) and the String Quintet in E-flat major composed during the summer of 1893, the Sonatina in G major for violin and piano was Dvořák’s last chamber composition composed during his stay in the United States. Written during the last weeks of November of that year, Dvořák specifically designed the work to be accessible by the musical abilities of children, in particular his fifteen year-old daughter Ottilie and ten year-old son Toník, to whom he also dedicated it. It was published in January 1894 by Simrock in Berlin.

Like the two other aforementioned chamber works and, of course, the immensely popular “New World” Symphony, the Sonatina in G major is largely influenced by Dvořák’s exposure to Native American melodies and Negro spirituals. The first movement is a straightforward sonata form and the least influenced by the distinctive qualities of American folk music. Marked Allegro risoluto, it begins with a defiant theme in the violin accompanied by a strong rhythmic figure in the piano. A second theme, plaintive in character, follows in the key of E minor, instead of the more usual dominant key.

The following Larghetto was written down hurriedly on Dvořák’s shirt sleeve while he visited Minnehaha Falls in Minnesota. Simrock published the movement separately, without Dvořák’s permission, and it has since come to bear such Romantic titles as “Indian Lullably” and “Indian Lament,” though none of them were given the piece by Dvořák himself. The movement is built on three successive themes—the first in G minor; a middle theme in B-flat major; lastly, one in G major. A brief return of the opening G minor melody concludes the movement.

The scherzo third movement begins with the opening rhythm of the Allegro risoluto recast into the movement’s dance-like triple meter. A brief Trio section in C major provides a lyrical contrast to the energetic scherzo. Lastly, the Allegro finale is a lively sonata form. Like the “New World” Symphony, the movement’s exposition is built around three distinct themes: a syncopated melody in G major influenced heavily by Negro spirituals, an E minor tune with a march-like quality, and finally a tranquil theme in E major that sounds as if it almost came from the Symphony itself. The development section is turbulent, beginning in E minor and shows off Dvořák’s penchant for sudden and wide-ranging modulations. The tension of the section is finally released in a sudden burst as the jubilant G major theme returns and the recapitulation reached. All the themes are then accounted for and an energetic coda closes the work.      Joseph DuBose

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