- Cliff Eisen
A composition for five solo string instruments; the term is usually applied to works written since the mid-18th century rather than to earlier consort music in five parts. The origin of the genre is frequently traced to the Italian sinfonia and concerto or to the generically fictive German divertimento, but it is closer in spirit to the south German and Austrian symphony, including works in five parts whose style is often indistinguishable from one-to-a-part solo ensemble music. Characterized chiefly by refinements in writing for a strings-only texture, the history of the genre is closely bound up with that of the string quartet. At the same time, its greater mass often resulted in works more closely approximating an orchestral style; only Mozart appears successfully and consistently to have composed quintets exclusively in the ‘sonata’ style....