Franz Schubert

German Dances (5) & Trios (7) with Coda, for string quartet, D. 90

    Description by "Blue" Gene Tyranny

    The first of these lively dances is a "Menuett" (Minuet) and like in the Classical period has a simple melody harmonized by basic chords. However, Schubert has transformed the dance with (1) the addition of a quick background tremolo of sixteenths that adds a lightly dramatic, somewhat nervous pulse throughout. Also, (2) the initial beat of a phrase is heavily accented like in a country rather than a courtly dance. The first Trio follows with a gentle waltz motion in a minor key accompanied by a steady pulse (pedal tone) of eighths rather than the strong um-pah-pah when the waltz became "all the rage" some 50 years later. The first dance is repeated, and followed by a second Trio. This is another waltz tune, but in a major key and somewhat more extrovert than the previous Trio, and accompanied by steady eighths in a rolling pattern of thirds. The first dance is then recapitulated in full.

    The second dance is a "Ländler," a country dance in triple meter that accents the second beat. The theme begins on a low note followed by a swiftly ascending scale ending in the higher octave on the first beat with a full chord on the second beat of the second measure. A light phrase of semi-staccato eighths creates a delicate bridge to the cadence. A trio (No. 3) follows, its melody having a flowing pastorale quality in lighthearted triple meter with several skipping tones. The second dance is repeated followed by a trio (No. 4) in a minor key. More waltz-like, this melody nevertheless incorporates skipping tones and a delightful octave interval on the second beat accent from the Ländler style. This set concludes with a full recapitulation of the dance.

    The third dance, a "Deutscher," was a round dance in which the participants linked arms. It is in triple meter characterized by a fast rolling figure (sixteenths) on the third beat (which Schubert occasionally echoes on the first beat). The Trio (No. 5) begins with a hesitation and then unfolds in steady eighths with the same skipping feeling as the dance. The dance is then repeated and the set ends.

    The fourth dance is a brief "Walzer" which, like the previous "Deutscher," has a rolling figure on the initial third beat, but fills in the other beats with single accents and is quite energetic. There is no trio.

    The fifth dance is an "Ecossaise" (Scottish-style) which has a strong dactyl accent on the upbeat followed a slight hesitation before striking the one. The trio (No. 6) is contrastingly sweet and somewhat sentimental. The dance is repeated, and the next trio (No. 7) has a gradually diminishing melody of the kind for tapping the pointed toe. The dance is repeated in full before the Coda which comments on the previous triple meters without being a reprise. It fades slowly with a reiterated sigh (minor IV chord to major I) as the dancers grow weary.


    1. German Dance No. 1 & Trio 1, 2
    2. German Dance No. 2 & Trio 1, 2
    3. German Dance No. 3 & Trio
    4. German Dance No. 4
    5. German Dance No. 5 & Trio 1, 2
    6. Coda

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 Decca / Eloquence 4825379
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4796316
    2016 Dynamic DYNCDS 7712
    2016 Brilliant Classics 94468BR
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4795545
    2014 Brilliant Classics 94463BR
    2012 Camerata Records CAM 28203
    2011 Denon Records
    2006 Deutsche Grammophon 000646102
    2006 Preiser Records 90688
    2005 Naxos 8557125
    2002 Deutsche Grammophon 000001502
    2001 Madacy 3513
    2000 Delta Distribution 24477
    2000 Haenssler 98184
    2000 Upbeat URCD162
    1999 Vanguard 8206
    1998 Dutton Laboratories 5019
    1998 Capriccio Records 10526
    1997 Capriccio Records 490685
    1996 MDG 3070604
    1996 Arts Music 47210
    1993 Deutsche Grammophon 437535
    1992 Chandos 8928
    Ophelia 67101
    Capriccio Records 49069
    Hungaroton 31622
    Divox 11037
    Meridian Records 84273
    Discover 920217
    Europa 350239
    RCA 60452
    Laserlight 14040