FOR PIANO QUINTET
Composed as a companion piece to the "Trout" Quintet
Premiere: September 27, 1979; Carnegie Recital Hall, New York; The Manhattan Quintet
Nova was premiered by The Manhattan Quintet at Carnegie Recital Hall on September 27, 1979. Nova (short for Nova Scotia salmon) was composed during the summer of 1979 on a commission from the Manhattan Quartet as a companion piece for Schubert's Trout Quintet, hence the instrumentation: violin, viola, cello, bass, and piano.
The New Yorker - Andrew Porter
"...Nova was planned as a companion piece, in forces, to Schubert's Trout Quintet... That's why it's named for a form of fish. (When -- if --Nova is played in Paris, the joke will need a footnote.) The piece, in three movements, and lasting ten minutes, is thoroughly enjoyable -- rich, exuberant, unschematic. I don't understand what makes this young composer tick but do know that I like his music. It flows forth -- uninhibited, unconventional, accessible, yet not undisciplined. It's not exactly "like" anything else. Nova lived along every instrumental line, and held the attention."
The New York Times - Joseph Horowitz
"...Mr. Picker's Nova, which was commissioned by the Manhattan Quintet, is the work of an ardent, skillful young composer with something to say. It lasts 12 minutes, and falls into three connected movements. The brisk sections have a protean vigor, but even where the pace is slower, a great deal is going on. As in the music of Elliott Carter, who was one of Mr. Picker's teachers, the ear is gripped by an evolving, non-repetitive fabric, moved forward by a steady energy source. A sorrowful chorale -- shades of Berg's Violin Concerto -- provides an unexpected, ineffable close."
San Francisco Examiner - Richard Pontrious
"...Picker's Nova, short for Nova Scotia salmon, written in 1979 as a companion piece to Schubert's Trout Quintet, deserves an immediate place in the repertoire right next to the Schubert...Nova is a refreshing blend of contemporary and traditional compositional styles. It is bright, alive, and writen with the kind of transparency one expects to find in a Mozart quartet. Most impressive, however, is its honesty. The music works because it relies on itself, not on extraneous devices or effects."
"Nova was brilliantly performed by a quartet of [San Francisco] Symphony strings, with the composer at the piano."
San Francisco Chronicle - Robert Commanday
"Nova, an attractive chamber work by Tobias Picker, made an appealing impression in this performance by violinist Jorja Fleezanis, violist Geraldine Walther, cellist David Goldblatt, bassist Michael Burr, with the composer at the piano."
"The fluid, often decorative action of the piano, the pace and grace of the music's conversational quality do carry out the work's intended relationship to Schubert's Trout Quintet. There's a fine melodious touch in the work, a peppy and buoyant rhythm, and keen reference without the anguish, more sweet than bitter. Whatever more personal a reference Picker may have had in mind, this coda ended Nova on a gesture of affection for music he has loved, simply that."