Some musicologists have speculated that Dvorák initially intended this music -- a dark meditation entirely in the key of D minor -- as the slow movement of his Symphony No. 4, but evidence for this remains elusive. The Ballad is a brooding, deeply Slavic piece mainly adhering to slow tempos and exploring the violin's lower registers, with the piano providing only a skeletal, chordal accompaniment on the beat. Eventually, the two instruments burst into faster, more impassioned material, but this proves to be only a brief interruption; the initial, introspective rhapsody resumes, covering much the same ground as before until a haunting, almost rapturous coda finally sends the violin into its higher reaches.
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Description by James Reel