FOUR PIANO PIECES (KLAVIERSTÜCKE), OP. 119
Recording: Martin Jones, pianist [NI 1788]
These last four pieces, like Op. 118, are
labeled “Klavierstücke,” but only the final piece is not an
intermezzo. Although the second piece is quite extended, the
weight of the group is on the final rhapsody, the only piece in the
four late sets to be given that title. The unity of Op. 119 as a
group is less obvious than in Op. 118, although the keys, between B and
E, cover an even narrower range. The first intermezzo,
characterized by Clara Schumann as a “grey pearl,” is as close to the
“impressionistic” sound of Debussy as Brahms ever got. The second
intermezzo, whose main sections are skittish and agitated, contains a
central waltz that almost sounds as if it were lifted out of Op.
39. The waltz tune, however, is a variation of the main agitated
material. In the third piece, which relies on internal melody,
the ternary form and contrast are more nebulous. It has an almost
comical character. The final rhapsody (“Rhapsodie”), which
represents the end of Brahms’s work for solo piano, is not as extended
as the two of Op. 79, but still displays a large arch-like form that
makes it the biggest of the twenty late miniatures. The piece is
largely heroic and even joyous, so the ending in E-flat minor is
surprisingly dark. Incidentally, E-flat minor is also the key in
which Op. 118 ends as well as the key of Brahms’s earliest composed
(but not earliest published) piano work, the Scherzo, Op. 4. This
key thus, in a way, frames the composer’s entire solo piano output.
FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut
SCORE FROM IMSLP (from Breitkopf &
Härtel Sämtliche Werke):
with original German heading
Individually, with English headings (lower scan quality):
1: Intermezzo in B minor
2: Intermezzo in E minor
3: Intermezzo in C major (the key is mistakenly identified as A
4: Rhapsodie in E-flat major
1. INTERMEZZO. Adagio
(Ternary form). B MINOR, 3/8 time.
A Section--B minor
0:00 [m. 1]--The wistful
melody, with extreme long-short rhythm, soars above descending
arpeggios. These arpeggios begin with the first note of the
melody, and the notation carefully indicates that each pitch is to be
held throughout the descent. After three bars of arpeggios, the
accompaniment switches to off-beat punctuations in the fourth bar as
the melody itself becomes more assertive and the left hand subtly
imitates the melody.
0:14 [m. 5]--The “wistful”
original melodic gesture, now accompanied by a line of double notes in
thirds, alternates once with the more “assertive” melody and off-beat
punctuations. Two more of the original gestures, the second of
which has a new, freer line in double notes, lead to the second phrase.
0:27 [m. 9]--The melody begins
again, but the harmony of the third bar arpeggio is altered to include
the “leading tone,” indicating an impending arrival point or cadence.
0:35 [m. 12]--The fourth bar,
rather than rounding off a half-phrase as before, introduces a new
five-bar unit based on the more assertive melodic line, the left hand
imitation, and the off-beat punctuations. A more insistent upbeat
is added to the pattern. The last bar slows, changes the off-beat
internal punctuations to a smoother line, and reaches a cadence on the
“dominant” key, F-sharp.
B Section--D major
0:54 [m. 17]--The music
effortlessly moves to the related major key of D. The main
argument is a gently leaping back-and-forth melody that begins off the
beat. The left hand quietly rocks in octaves and other
wide-ranging motion. The melody is richly harmonized. After
three bars, more syncopation is added to the melody, with chords held
across bar lines, and there is a sudden swell in volume, a striking
change in this mostly very subdued piece. The harmony and bass
become more chromatic approaching the climax.
1:13 [m. 24]--At the climax,
the left hand becomes more active, and there is a strong hint at D
minor. A second seven-bar phrase follows the previous one.
The climax is followed by a large descent. The activity gradually
diminishes, as does the volume. The entire passage is highly
chromatic, with many half-steps, some in contrary motion between the
hands. These half-steps lead smoothly to a return of the melody.
1:35 [m. 31]--The melody of the
B section begins again with a
new chromatic internal line, but after the opening, the syncopation is
minimized, there is no hint at the minor key, and the climax arrives
after only six bars instead of seven. The left hand becomes
active even earlier here.
1:54 [m. 37]--At the second and
final climax of the piece, the left hand speeds up to triplet groups,
with a countermelody embedded in the higher notes. The D-major
key is radiant here. The left hand slows back to straight, but
still active rhythm, and the music gently settles down in another six
bar phrase balancing the previous one. The motion back to B minor
at the end, with the melody in the tenor range and played in a
drawn-out syncopation, quickly dispels the rapture of the climax.
2:12 [m. 43]--Re-transition.
arpeggios of the opening return, but Brahms groups the notes in a
“hemiola” or cross-rhythm. For two bars, instead of three beats
divided into two parts, there are two beats divided into three
parts. Brahms returns to the careful notation of the arpeggios
indicating the length each note is to be held throughout the
descents. The hands cross as the arpeggios work upward.
There are then two bars with the normal metrical grouping
restored. They strongly resemble the main melody and its
descending arpeggios, and the top line slides upward by half-steps,
slowing and leading to the melody itself.
A’ Section--B minor
2:23 [m. 47]--The main
“wistful” melody returns. The descending arpeggios that accompany
it are now in a more flowing triplet grouping with half-step
embellishments, still with the careful notation indicating the holding
of certain notes through the descents. The fourth bar, with the
off-beat punctuations and left hand imitation, is as before.
2:35 [m. 51]--A virtually exact
restatement of the half-phrase from 0:14 [m. 5], with double notes in
thirds and off-beat punctuations.
2:48 [m. 55]--The melody begins
again, and the arpeggios are again in the triplet rhythm. As in
the first A section at 0:27
[m. 9], there is an alteration to the harmony of the arpeggios, but
this time it already begins in the first of the three. In the
third bar, even the melody note is changed, being lowered a
half-step. The triplet rhythm creeps into the melody by the third
bar as well.
2:58 [m. 58]--The fourth bar
now highly varies the previous five-bar unit from 0:35 [m. 12].
The upbeat gestures are similar, but the off-beat punctuations are now
reduced to low bass notes. The music is also set lower and avoids
the motion to the “dominant” key, instead strongly suggesting the D
major of the middle section. The slowing and smoother internal
line arrive a bar earlier than before. More of the upbeat
gestures follow, confirming B minor and extending the phrase to seven
bars instead of five (perhaps a connection to the seven-bar phrases in
the first part of the B
3:29 [m. 65]--A final reference
to the opening descending arpeggios is made before the last chords and
B-minor cadence. This closing slows even more, creating a very
stilled and hushed ending.
3:56--END OF PIECE [67 mm.]
Andantino un poco agitato - Andantino grazioso (Ternary form). E
MINOR, 3/4 time.
A Section--Andantino un poco
agitato, E minor
0:00 [m. 1]--The main rhythm is persistent and obsessive, but
hushed. Beginning on an upbeat, it is best described as
“anapestic” (short-short-long). Throughout the first twelve bars,
the left hand consistently plays short repetitions (usually double
notes) on each beat, alternating with the short notes (also
repetitions) in the right hand upbeats. At the end of two bars, a
top voice is added with a strong syncopated accent.
0:06 [m. 3]--The anapestic main
theme seems to restart, but the top voice with strong syncopation
enters again, this time a little later, after three bars. It
develops into a series of four syncopated accents on rolled chords, all
above the persistent rhythm. The top voice then settles down,
completing the eight-bar phrase (including the first two bars).
0:21 [m. 9]--With the upbeat
held over, the main theme again restarts as at the beginning, with the
syncopated top voice added at the end of the second bar. The
third bar is also as at 0:06 [m. 3], but the fourth bar deviates,
expanding upward, including two syncopated rolled chords (earlier than
their previous appearance), and modulating to A minor.
0:31 [m. 13]--The persistent
anapestic rhythm finally breaks in both hands. A variation of the
main theme is now heard in A minor. It is in triplet
rhythm. The left hand plays on the first two notes of each
three-note group, the right hand (in two voices) on the second and
third notes, holding over on the first. This pattern briefly
breaks on the last beat of m. 14, but is restored. A transitional
fifth bar is added with the right hand returning to straight duple
rhythm on a descending line in the inner voice.
0:42 [m. 18]--A further variant
of the main theme begins in yet another new key, F minor. This
time, the left hand plays on the main beats and the right hand responds
with rich chords after the beat. The syncopated top voice enters
in the second and fourth bars. The main key of E minor returns in
the third bar. The volume swells dramatically in the fifth bar,
reaching the main climax of the A
section on a rolled chord.
0:52 [m. 23]--The main rhythm
returns, with short repetitions alternating between the hands as
before. The top voice of the right hand has lines such as that
heard before 0:21 [m. 9], but rather than settling down, it maintains
the intensity of the climax. There are two similar gestures, each two
bars long, both including the heavy syncopation. The main rhythm
then breaks off in two transitional bars that both arrest the activity
and quiet down dramatically.
1:07 [m. 29]--In the smoothest
variation of the main theme yet, the right hand plays flowing lines in
two voices, still maintaining the upbeats. The left hand has wide
arpeggios in three-note groups beginning off the beat. This
phrase swells to yet another, smaller climax before a descent, with the
left hand briefly adding a third voice to the flowing lines.
1:18 [m. 33]--Three
transitional bars restore calm and move to the major key with long-held
chords, a slow-moving inner voice, and more regular left-hand
arpeggios. These transitional bars introduce a “hemiola,” with
four 2/4 bars implied against the three notated 3/4 bars. This
does not include the last beat of the final bar, which will function as
an upbeat beginning the B
B Section--Andantino grazioso,
E major (Displays its own “rounded binary” form)
1:26 [m. 36]--Part 1. The
entire B section is a waltz
that seems lifted out of the Op. 39 set (it is particularly similar to
Op. 39, No. 2). The first eight-bar period is regular, with a
consistent left-hand arpeggio pattern and a gently rocking right-hand
rhythm. What is more subtle is the fact that the waltz tune is
directly derived from the agitated main theme of the A section.
1:40 [m. 44]--Part 1, Varied
repetition. The left hand is the same until the last bar, but the
right hand melody adds a high doubled octave, still retaining all of
the previous harmonies. The very end is slightly altered, adding
a mild syncopation.
1:54 [m. 52]--Part 2. The
first phrase of the second part shifts abruptly to A minor, then to G
major. It is characterized by light syncopation in the right
hand, carrying over from the end of the varied repetition. The
left hand arpeggios are more flowing and played in two bar units.
The second half of the phrase becomes quite agitated as the music moves
to B minor. The left hand pattern breaks at this point, and
gradually converges with the right hand in the last bar.
2:06 [m. 60]--The last phrase
returns to the character of Part 1, but only gradually arrives back at
E major, passing first through F-sharp minor. The left-hand
patterns are far less regular, first consisting of descending lines,
then moving to the original arpeggios in the second half of the
phrase. Unlike Part 1, the music arrives at a full cadence.
2:19 [m. 52]--Part 2
repeated. As at 1:54 [m. 52].
2:32 [m. 60]--As at 2:06 [m.
60]. The last bar is written as a second ending to eliminate the
transition to the repeat and to move to the brief “coda.”
2:47 [m. 68]--A small “coda” is
added that consists of gentle echoes of the waltz melody that become
ever slower, softer, and less active. The return of A emerges on the upbeat of the last
bar with a seamless shift back to minor.
A’ Section--Tempo primo, E
2:56 [m. 72]--The A section material returns, not
with the phrase from the beginning, but the one from 0:21 [m. 9].
This effectively abbreviates the A’
section. The phrase is extended by a bar through reiteration of
the fourth bar, and introduces a new flowing left hand accompaniment
that breaks its persistent repetitions.
3:08 [m. 77]--A similar
presentation in A minor to that at 0:31 [m. 13], but the triplets are
replaced by a four-note division in straight rhythm. The actual
notes are the same, but the new division means that the left hand
figures alternate with, rather than overlap, the right hand
notes. The transitional fifth bar is the same in the right hand,
but the left hand adds subtle syncopation derived from the new rhythm.
3:18 [m. 82]--Variant beginning
in F minor with right hand after-beat chords, as at 0:42 [m. 18].
3:29 [m. 87]--Return of main
rhythm and two syncopated gestures, as at 0:52 [m. 23].
3:44 [m. 93]--Smooth final
variation with flowing lines and wide arpeggios, as at 1:07 [m. 29].
3:53 [m. 97]--Transitional bars
with motion to major key and hemiola, as at 1:18 [m. 33]. The
last bar has a slightly delayed resolution.
4:02 [m. 100]--An echo of the
“coda” from the central waltz (B
section), gently and quietly closes the piece in major and in an almost
4:30--END OF PIECE [104 mm.]
3. INTERMEZZO. Grazioso
e giocoso (Continuous variation with ternary aspects). C MAJOR,
0:00 [m. 1]--The piece begins
lightly but buoyantly. The main “theme” is in an inner voice, a
cell of four notes that moves up by a skip and a step, then turns back
down to the second note. Above this “cell” is a repeated third,
and below it is a wide arching arpeggio. The “cell” is repeated
three times, the second time without the pause on the last note.
The inner voice then diverges from the “cell,” but stays close to its
character under new chords. The left hand arpeggios are now in
three ascending notes without the “arch.”
0:09 [m. 7]--A second four-note
“cell,” similar to the first, is now heard in the inner voice. It
is two upward steps followed by a downward leap of a fifth. It is
first heard in G major, but the next bar wrenches the key up to A,
vacillating between minor and major. The new “cell” is heard
three times in A, adding an upward leap between the statements.
Heavily syncopated chords lead to a reprise of the opening.
0:18 [m. 13]--Reprise of the
opening, approached from an accented syncopated chord on the previous
beat whose top notes are held over to form the initial upper third
above the inner melody (the four-note “cell”).
0:25 [m. 19]--New cell, as at
0:09 [m. 7]. At the end, the syncopated chords are shoved forward
by a beat (the first is deleted), to avoid the motion back to the home
key. These chords are even more heavily accented than
before. The tempo is rather flexible throughout the opening
0:33 [m. 25]--The first “cell”
is now isolated and played in three octaves. It is in F-sharp
minor, closely related to the previous A major. It is played two
more times in the inner voice in a higher octave, without the pause on
the fourth note. The music then intensifies and breaks into the
syncopated chord idea, the left hand adding more double notes and
0:38 [m. 29]--The previous
pattern begins at a higher level, in B-flat minor. As before, it
is stated twice more in an inner voice, but the last statement expands
the inner motion by two more bars, with the top thirds shifting upward
in the second “expansion” bar. The expansion breaks into loud
descending chords that are then followed by a similar series of
descending octaves, the left hand slightly anticipating the
right. The passage passes through two major keys on the way to F
minor, where the descending scales are set.
0:48 [m. 37]--Re-transition.
opening rhythm is suggested with a repeated note and a rising
half-step, doubled in octaves. It is suddenly quiet. This
is followed by a descending left-hand line. The rhythm is then
heard again with the inner voice and thirds above it, hinting at the
opening cell. This is in A-flat major (related to F minor).
That key will lead back to C major and the highly varied opening
material, also with a descending left-hand line.
0:54 [m. 41]--The opening
material returns, but it is in “augmentation,” or doubly long note
values. The first four-note “cell” attempts to restart in the
same straight notes, but it is suddenly interrupted by a louder, faster
motion, still with the inner voice and upper thirds. A rapid
descending arpeggio breaks things off.
0:59 [m. 45]--The opening
“cell” is heard in its original faster rhythm and three successive
repetitions, but under the second of these, the piano bass shifts down,
which it had not done before, and the music reaches A major/minor much
earlier than it had before. As in the previous “attempt,” the
pattern is interrupted by the loud, fast motion, then another rapid
descending arpeggio that shifts back to the home key of C.
1:04 [m. 49]--The second
four-note “cell” is heard in an inner voice, now for the first time in
the home key. After a transitional bar such as those heard with
this cell before, the cell itself moves to the top of the
texture. The “transitional” bar is repeated, then shifted upward
twice in a rapid buildup of intensity. This culminates in a
breathless “hemiola,” where the rhythm for one bar suggests 3/4 instead
of 6/8 (three beats instead of two in the bar). Here, three
two-note descents rise upward in rapid succession.
1:13 [m. 56]--In the exuberant
climax, the second four-note “cell” is heard twice in the inner voice,
but it is now surrounded by long-held octaves. The left hand is
smoother, with stepwise motion instead of arpeggios. The first
three rising notes of the cell are then stated four times in quick
succession, each time shifting down by a step. The surrounding
octaves are syncopated, being struck on the third notes of the
three-note groups (except the first one). The left hand again
plays arpeggios, but sustains the note G (the “dominant” note) in the
bass. The music then slows and quiets, with two more syncopated
chords in the right hand.
1:20 [m. 62]--The last
syncopated chord collapses into a descending left-hand line. This
is immediately followed by a much faster descent that begins quite high
and reaches low. It is split between the hands. At the
bottom, this line reverses itself and climbs upward in a wide
arpeggio. It is cut off by two rolled chords, one high, the other
lower and both of the preparatory “dominant” harmony. The effect
is almost like that of a bubble bursting.
1:24 [m. 66]--The piece ends
with a metrical game. Three bars of “hemiola,” which are grouped
to sound like 3/4 measures instead of 6/8 bars, skittishly climb
upward, an octave higher in each bar. The “buoyancy” so
characteristic of the piece is at its lightest here. Following
these three bars, a high quiet rolled chord is followed by a louder one
an octave lower. Finally the last chord, which is an octave lower
still, is played without a roll and held more solidly.
1:40--END OF PIECE [70 mm.]
Allegro risoluto (Five-part arch-like form, ABCB’A’ with coda).
E-FLAT MAJOR, 2/4 time.
A Section (Displays its own
“aba” form)--E-flat major
0:00 [m. 1]--First part (a). The main material is an
extremely assertive, fully harmonized melody in dactylic rhythm
(long-short-short), until the cadence bar, which is
short-short-long. The left hand is mostly in octaves.
Brahms makes the melody irregular by adding a fifth bar to each
phrase. This fifth bar is a sort of “tag” to the cadence with
descending internal harmony. The main melody has four
phrases. The first is in E-flat major. The second moves to
G minor. The third is also in E-flat, but the “tag” turns toward
0:19 [m. 16]--The fourth phrase
is in fact in E-flat minor, but it has a slightly different, more
steadily descending shape. It is also played with greater
intensity. Its “tag” is broken into descending arpeggios, which
already begin with the cadence bar, itself dispensing with the
0:25 [m. 21]--Second part (b). Four more five-bar phrases
follow. They are all extremely similar, consisting of six
straight chords, then a longer one in the fourth bar. The end of
the fourth bar and the fifth bar have descending arpeggios similar to
those in the fourth phrase of a
from 0:19 [m. 16], with thumping bass notes. The first phrase is
in B-flat major and is quiet. The second is in C minor and
becomes louder. The third moves back to B-flat and is again
0:42 [m. 36]--The last phrase
moves to E-flat minor/major, preparing for the return of the opening
material. It increases greatly in intensity. The arpeggios
are moved from the right hand to the low bass, and reverse direction,
moving upward. Against this, the right hand plays chords with
internal harmonic motion, similar to those in the fifth bars from the
phrases of a. This aids
in the transition back to the opening.
0:47 [m. 41]--Third part (a’). The first three phrases
are exactly as at the opening, except that the “tag” of the last one
does not make the turn toward the minor key.
1:05 [m. 56]--The last phrase
begins higher than the phrase from 0:19 [m. 16]. It is of similar
shape and intensity, and turns to a minor key, but it is now the
“relative” minor key, C minor, rather than the home minor key.
There is only one descending arpeggio, in the fourth bar, and the fifth
bar has two sharp chords anticipating a cadence in C minor. There
is then a four-bar bridge that finally breaks the five-bar
phrases. Two chords, bridged by a rising top voice between them,
lead to the next section. They become suddenly quiet and still
avoid a clear arrival on C minor, which is delayed until the opening of
the B section itself.
B Section--C minor
1:17 [m. 65]--Quiet and ominous
triplet rhythm contrasts with the assertive main rhythms. The
oscillating figures are played in both hands, beginning in octaves, but
moving to harmony. There is a solid bass “pedal point” on C until
the end of the first phrase, which moves strongly to the “dominant”
harmony of G major. Four-bar phrases replace the five-bar units
of the A section.
1:27 [m. 73]--The second phrase
is in C major, not minor, and its top voice is an octave higher.
Halfway through, the left hand becomes thicker and more active, and the
volume swells dramatically. The motion of this second half,
including grouping of the triplet rhythms into implied 3/4 bars, is
used to extend the phrase by four bars and prolong the climax.
The top chords ring out joyously against the active left hand.
1:41 [m. 85]--Transition.
The bass suddenly descends to the same chord that began the four-bar
bridge right before the B
section. In fact, that bridge is repeated exactly. It is
then extended by four more bars to confirm and arrival on A-flat major,
which was always the implied harmonic goal of the bridge when it first
C Section--A-flat major
1:52 [m. 93]--While the music
here is more closely related to B
than to A, it contrasts
sharply with both. Light, delicate, and graceful, it contains
fast rolled chords in both hands that are difficult to play this
softly and this rapidly. The main melody moves from the top voice
to an inner voice in the rolled chords. The phrase groupings are
essentially eight bars, divided into three bars with ascending rolled
chords and five bars where the right hand rolls downward.
2:01 [m. 101]--This phrase
begins as a varied repetition, with the main melody moving down an
octave and the left hand moving to mainly octaves, some rolled, but
reaching lower. It then changes harmony, becoming darker and
moving back to C minor, the B
section’s key. The phrase structure is the same, with the
descending rolled chords starting in the fourth bar. The last bar
of the phrase slows the motion slightly
2:11 [m. 109]--In a
transitional phrase very similar to those before and after the B section, the motion slows
somewhat, and the volume rises somewhat. The left hand has
detached downward arching octave motion alternating with chords.
The transition moves the music back to A-flat
2:21 [m. 117]--Repetition of
the first phrase from 1:52 [m. 93].
2:30 [m. 125]--This phrase
begins like the second phrase from 2:01 [m. 101], but after two bars it
diverges. The last four bars resemble the transitional
phrase. Instead of moving to C minor, the phrase increases the
anticipation of that key, ending on an expectant “augmented sixth”
B’ Section--C minor
2:42 [m. 133]--The first phrase
is very similar to the one at 1:17 [m. 65], but the right hand begins
with block chords against the left hand triplets, moving to the
triplets only in the third bar. It is also an octave higher than
the earlier phrase. The left hand is also slightly modified, with
added upward arpeggios. The melodic and harmonic goals are as
before, to the “dominant” G-major harmony.
2:53 [m. 141]--As at 1:27 [m.
73], the phrase is in C major, and is an octave higher still than it
was presented before, resulting in an extremely joyous bell-like
sound. Instead of only arriving halfway through the phrase, the
loud volume is already there at the outset and only becomes more full
and rich. Another important variant from the analogous phrase is
that the triplet rhythm now alternates between right and left hands for
the first six bars, up until the implied 3/4 motion. There are
two very concealed instances of two-against-three motion. The
phrase is extended by four bars as before, but now there is no sudden
harmonic divergence, simply a “dominant” chord preparing more C major.
A’ Section--C major/E-flat
3:07 [m. 153]--First part (a”). The main material returns
in a recognizable, but highly transformed variation. Instead of
loud and assertive, it is quiet, detached, and secretive. The
strong dactylic rhythms have been transformed into chords responding to
bass notes after downbeats. Also, it is not in the home key, but
continues in the C major of the previous section. Some elements
are retained, such as the five-bar phrases. The harmonic motion
is also analogous in the first three phrases, with the second moving to
E minor. The first and third phrases are in the middle range of
the piano, the second much higher.
3:23 [m. 168]--The fourth
phrase departs from the detached figuration and becomes more ominous at
the expected motion to C minor. The bass rises slowly while the
responses are now more connected, with an oscillating downward-upward
motion. They are in the high register. An unexpected fifth
phrase follows in the same vein. The five-bar structure is still
retained, including the expected internal motion in the fifth bar of
3:34 [m. 178]--What begins as a
third “ominous” phrase (the sixth of a”)
into a nine-bar segment that blurs the line between this
subsection and the following one (b’).
five-bar phrase is completed as expected, but it is followed by two
more similar bars with internal motion. These in turn lead to two
bars of arpeggios with rolled chords that will characterize b’. But the phrases of b’ will usually begin with three
“internal motion” bars, not two, followed by the arpeggios. The
“missing” bar is where the line is blurred. It is quite clear
that m. 182 (heard at 3:38) is part of a”,
b’, but it flows directly
into m. 183.
3:43 [m. 187]--Second part (b’). A sudden increase in
volume, followed by an equally sudden diminishing, makes it reasonably
clear that b’ begins
here. There are four five-bar phrases, as in the first b subsection from 0:25 [m.
21]. All consist of three bars of chords with internal motion,
played in the middle and low range in the first three phrases.
They are followed by two bars of light descending arpeggios with
thumping bass notes. The first phrase moves from C minor to
B-flat major. The second moves to an unexpected C-flat major (a
key closer to E-flat minor).
third phrase shifts up a step to D-flat. The motion to
E-flat, which should be quite easy from C minor and B-flat major, is
delayed by these unexpected harmonic shifts.
4:00 [m. 202]--The fourth
phrase moves the right hand of the initial chords to a higher
range. They increase in volume and spread outward. The
arrival of the arpeggios brings an extended climax and a prolonged
arrival on the home key of E-flat, at first in its minor-key form, as
suggested by the previous C-flat major.
4:05 [m. 207]--The previous
phrase is followed by a new ten-bar transition. Instead of a
division into two five-bar phrases, there are four bars of strong
cadences with arpeggios that ascend in the left hand, then descend in
the right. The remaining six bars are heavily syncopated, with
the arpeggios completely in the left hand. After two chords held
across bar lines, seven shorter chords mark the main climax. The
left hand arpeggios, which have been steadily ascending, begin to
descend under the last three of these chords. The entire
transition seems to confirm E-flat minor (or G-flat major or C-flat
major) rather than E-flat major.
4:16 [m. 217]--Third part (a’”). The main material
triumphantly arrives in its original form. E-flat major
brilliantly emerges. Except for the point of arrival, which is at
a higher level, the first three phrases are largely as at the opening
of the piece, with some intensification of the left hand harmonies and
4:34 [m. 232]--The fourth
phrase makes the move to E-flat minor, as it had at the opening at 0:19
[m. 16]. It is greatly intensified from that point, however, and
instead of breaking into the arpeggios of b (which we have already heard in
the A’ section), the last two
bars intensify even further and confirm a rather unexpectedly grim
arrival on E-flat minor, where, surprisingly, the piece will remain
during the coda.
4:40 [m. 237]--The five-bar
phrases of the main material are preserved. The music breaks into
a series of treacherous leaps in dotted (long-short) rhythm, the right
hand jumping up to octaves. The left hand plays ascending
arpeggios and chords. The fifth bar of the phrase consists of two
dramatic downward-leaping cadence chords. There are two of these
phrases, the second extended to six bars with a lower extension of the
cadence chords. The key remains firmly in minor, thwarting
expectations for a triumphant ending.
4:52 [m. 248]--The final
passage abandons the five-bar phrases for two-bar units. It is a
highly dramatic series of figures in triplet rhythm, initially
punctuated by rolled chords at the beginning of each group. Three
two-bar units move steadily upward. Two more of these units
abandon the rolled chords in favor of a heavy, leaping, straight-rhythm
left hand that clashes with the continuing climactic triplet chords of
the right hand. These five two-bar units are followed by the last
chords, which emphatically confirm the minor-key ending. Perhaps
tellingly, these final chords are played over five bars.
5:22--END OF PIECE [262 mm.]
END OF SET