PIANO QUARTET NO. 1 in G MINOR, OP.
Recording: Emanuel Ax, piano; Isaac Stern, violin; Jaime
Laredo, viola; Yo-Yo Ma, cello [Sony S2K 45846]
1863. Dedicated to Baron Reinhard von Dalwigk.
This is an
extremely significant work in Brahms’s compositional
development, one of the earliest masterpieces of the Hamburg
second period (the “first maturity”). The pair of
quartets for piano and strings, Opp. 25 and 26, are of huge
proportions, expanding even on already large works such as the
F-minor piano sonata, B-major piano trio, and B-flat major
string sextet. (The second quartet, Op. 26 in A major,
is a more “pastoral” counterpart to the “tragic/heroic” Op.
25.) Each movement is laid out on an enormous
scale. The first movement of the G-minor work is the
earliest example of an approach to sonata form which Brahms
would make a personal trademark: bringing back the unaltered
principal theme at the beginning of the development section
and abbreviating the recapitulation accordingly. The
concept was not yet polished. The gigantic, sprawling
exposition is unparalleled in later works, and because of
this, the recapitulation is altered to a greater extent than
would become common later. It is perhaps his darkest,
most tragic instrumental movement to date. As in the
B-major trio, the scherzo/trio-type movement was placed
second, and was originally titled “Scherzo,” but Brahms
re-titled it “Intermezzo” because of its large layout and
subdued character. It would also become a sort of model
for later “scherzo substitutes.” Although the main theme
of the slow movement is intensely lyrical, the piece is most
notable for its extended and brilliant central triple-time
march. The finale, a virtuoso showpiece, is the
composer’s most sectionalized Rondo form and an early example
of explicitly gypsy-inspired music, a style that would serve
him well throughout his career. The “Gypsy Rondo” was
praised by his Hungarian violinist friend Joseph Joachim (who
thought the first movement undisciplined) as an accurate
imitation of Hungarian idioms. Its sectionalized nature
balances the organically developmental first movement.
Rarely did Brahms write anything quite as viscerally exciting
as the last two pages. Arnold Schoenberg was especially
fond of this quartet. He used it as an example of
Brahms’s early approach to what he called “developing
variation.” He arranged the piece for full orchestra,
skillfully coloring such passages as the slow movement’s march
FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut Lübeck)
SCORE FROM IMSLP (From Breitkopf & Härtel Sämtliche Werke)
Movement: Allegro (Sonata-Allegro form). G MINOR, 4/4 time.
0:00 [m. 1]--Theme 1:
Part 1. A quietly winding bare unison pattern is presented in
three octaves by the piano before it settles to a brief
harmonized descent. Three bars of the pattern move
0:11 [m. 5]--The cello
begins the winding pattern a fifth higher, playing it over low
piano octaves and off-beat right hand harmonies. The
pattern is passed after two bars to the viola, and instead of
moving downward, it moves up. After one more bar, the
main pattern is finally passed to the violin, the cello
joining in unison and the viola adding to the harmony.
The phrase comes to a complete, closed G-minor cadence with a
turn figure in the violin.
0:24 [m. 11]--Part
2. Without any transition, this new idea begins in the
related major key of B-flat. The piano plays two sets of
“sighing” chords against a syncopated repeated-note pulsation
in the cello. The two upper strings play “sigh” figures
in unison that overlap with the piano statements. The
piano then begins to play halting descents harmonized in
double sixths in both hands with some chromatic color
notes. The upper strings shadow this as well, but turn
back upward. The cello pulsations continue, but the
upper strings break into octave oscillations on B-flat.
0:36 [m. 17]--The
strings now begin pulsations together on groups of two
repeated notes, the two upper instruments still playing in
unison. The piano continues to play in sixths and thirds
in both hands, leading with longer chords toward an apparent
arrival point in B-flat. This, however, is interrupted.
0:44 [m. 21]--The
cadence is interrupted by the first loud dynamic marking in
the movement. All instruments play in unison (the piano
in four octaves) on the opening pattern, turning to B-flat
minor. After one bar, there is a sudden quiet as the
strings drop out. When they enter, it is without the
violin. The instruments begin to harmonize and move back
to G minor. A crescendo
and loud descending chords lead to another arrival point in
the home key, the turn figure now played by the piano.
0:57 [m. 27]--Transition.
the arrival point, the strings in unison begin to play the
opening winding pattern. The piano punctuates this with
loud chords and shorter upbeat figures. This breaks
after three bars, with the unison strings moving to two note
“sigh” figures. The piano upbeats, which are four-note
trill-like figures, expand to the last three beats. Then
the short trill-like figures are passed to the top two string
instruments while the piano and cello play together on
powerful, somewhat dissonant chords.
1:13 [m. 35]--The
short four-note “trill” figures expand to include a downward
leap and are rapidly (and angrily) passed between the unison
strings and piano octaves. The harmony and key are
moving toward the “dominant” area of D for the second theme
1:24 [m. 41]--The
opening material based on the winding figure enters again in
the upper strings. These outbursts alternate with
suddenly quiet rising cello lines accompanied by descending
piano chords. This passage is extended a bit as the strings
come together at the quieter volume level and the piano chords
begin to arch down and back up, then down again. A
violin trill marks the arrival on D that prepares for Theme 2.
1:44 [m. 50]--Theme 2:
Part 1. An expressive melody begins in the cello,
somewhat unexpectedly in the minor key. Descending piano
arpeggios in octaves accompany. The melody includes a
prominent “turning” figure. The piano breaks away from
the octaves in favor of arching double thirds (D minor).
1:54 [m. 54]--In the
second phrase, starting on upbeats, the violin joins the
melody in unison with the cello. The music has reached a
louder level. The piano breaks again into descending
arpeggios over low bass octaves, expanding them into triplet
cross-rhythms against the strings. The violin/cello
melody descends to an apparently strong cadence that is
interrupted in a very similar manner to the one before 0:44
2:04 [m. 59]--The
melody is now taken by the piano right hand in octaves.
The pianist plays the entire melody heard from the cello and
violin, including the slight buildup in the second
phrase. The strings accompany, the viola making its
first appearance after a long rest at the beginning of the
theme group. The violin plays arching arpeggios in
triplet cross-rhythms. The cello plays mostly in
“straight” rhythm, joining the violin triplets once. The
viola plays long double notes and two-beat “sigh”
figures. The expected cadence is not interrupted this
time, but is expanded after the arrival, with the low bass
piano octaves becoming more active and taking over the
2:25 [m. 69]--The
violin further expands the cadence gesture and broadens it
even more into a new ascending line in dotted (long-short)
rhythm. The piano right hand now plays decorative and
winding arpeggios, sometimes incorporating double-third
harmony. The violin and piano right hand exchange their
music once (in m. 72). The piano bass and the cello
first imitate the violin, then expand the descending cadence
gesture in octaves against the new violin line. The
viola plays double-note figures beginning after the
beat. The entire passage swells greatly in volume.
2:38 [m. 75]--At the
high point, the strings join in unison, and the piano breaks
into a rapid arching figure. The material is twice
exchanged between strings and piano, the piano left hand
taking the unison string music. Finally, the strings
drop out on a chord, and the piano breaks into a huge
sequential descent with the rapid trill-like figures in the
right hand and precipitous broken octaves in the left, moving
to the major key.
2:46 [m. 79]--Part
2. The expressive melody is now played in a major-key
variant by the violin and viola in unison. It begins
quietly but builds steadily. The piano continues the
rapid trill-like figures in a murmuring manner. The
cello, plucked, plays an oscillating bass with a constant low
note (A). The piano bass joins the cello. When
this constant bass note is abandoned after four bars, the
cellist takes the bow again. After the first phrase, the
piano has a bridge with rapid arching arpeggios, quieting down
again (D major).
3:02 [m. 87]--The
piano begins to repeat the major-key melody, with the
trill-like figures moving to the viola and violin, the cello
bowing notes in harmony with the piano, but the piano’s
statement “restarts” itself and takes a harmonic detour to the
key of F major as it builds.
3:13 [m. 92]--The
piano adds a new phrase to the melody, mostly played in
octaves. It moves quickly back to D and is passed to the
strings in unison, the piano playing full chords. The
piano returns to octaves, the cello doubling its left
hand. The violin and viola continue to play in unison
against them. The music continues to build toward a
climax and moves to a strong arrival point as all four
3:31 [m. 101]--Part
3. The viola plays a new, strongly lyrical melody,
doubled and harmonized by the piano and cello, the piano left
hand and cello playing a sort of “drone” bass.
3:44 [m. 107]--The
violin joins, doubling the viola an octave above. The
exposition has now reached its largest climax, and Brahms
marks it animato.
The strongly lyrical melody is joyously expanded. The
expected full cadence, however, is aborted by a “deceptive”
motion in the bass.
3:57 [m. 113]--The
music suddenly becomes more hushed, and the melody is further
expanded by passing fragments between the strings while the
piano plays an extension with heavy use of dotted
rhythms. It appears to build to another arrival, but is
diverted again in the same way.
4:12 [m. 120]--The
viola alone takes the previous small fragments as the violin
and cello play the dotted-rhythm extension introduced by the
piano. The piano bass still participates in this, but
the right hand begins to play decorative descending arpeggios
in triplet rhythm. The music gradually quiets down, the
piano begins to play repeated triplet patterns, the strings
come together, and after one more deceptive motion, the full
cadence in D major finally arrives in a subdued manner.
4:34 [m. 130]--Closing
section. The piano returns to the winding octaves of the
opening. The strings respond with harmonized two-note
“sigh” figures. Soon, the piano reverses these,
and the alternation is at a closer distance. Brahms
begins to mix D minor and D major here as he approaches
another arrival point.
4:59 [m. 141]--The
strings now take up the opening pattern in unison octaves, the
piano responding with rippling arpeggios, the right hand
playing triplets while the left plays straight rhythms.
As before, the alternation becomes closer while major and
minor begin to be mixed.
5:21 [m. 151]--The
strings, still playing in unison, begin to ascend in long
notes, with a trill leading to a strong, but gentle arrival
point. The piano plays a mixture of straight and
triplet-rhythm arpeggios. The strings begin to
harmonize, and the piano plays a very light descent in double
notes in both hands. From here, the violin plays short
cadence gestures with short responses from the other strings
and the piano. The cadence gestures are passed first to
the viola, then the cello. The exposition ends in D
major, but the cello’s cadence gestures and the piano bass
contain a dissonant note (E-flat) that hints at the home key
of G minor.
5:45 [m. 161]--The
development begins as if the exposition were to be
repeated. The opening piano octaves on the winding
pattern are heard as at the beginning.
5:54 [m. 165]--Pattern
passed to the string instruments and arrival at a G-minor
cadence, as at 0:11 [m. 5].
6:07 [m. 171]--Theme
1, Part 2 is played, again without any transition.
Instead of a major key, however, it is played in C minor, giving it an
entirely new character. This is the point where it is
clearly development and not repetition. The main ideas
are taken by the piano, which now dovetails with cello lines
that invert the descending piano motion. The “pulsating”
syncopation is now played by the viola in octaves. The
violin is completely absent. The viola and cello drop
out, leaving the piano to play a stark descent to the abyss in
low octaves (still in C minor).
6:26 [m. 180]--In two
sequences, the trill-like figure is played three times: first
quietly and intensely by violin and cello in octaves over a
held low piano octave, then by the viola over a piano chord
and held notes from the other strings, and finally in a loud
piano outburst, cascading down the keyboard over leaping bass
octaves. The first sequence swings back toward G minor,
the second to a new area, A minor. The second sequence
is not precisely analogous to the first, especially the
cascading piano line.
6:41 [m. 188]--A long
series of powerful interjections on weak beats. These
consist of short trill-like figures in octaves in the violin
and cello, supported by chords and double stops in the piano
and viola. There are similarities to the “winding”
pattern of the main theme. The strong beats are
punctuated by low bass piano octaves. A minor/major
remains the primary key area. The viola participates in
the trill-like figures at the end of the passage. The
violin and cello simulate the previous “cascading” piano
outburst with leaping bass octaves, then pass it to the piano
itself. The piano brings the volume back down.
6:57 [m. 196]--The
strings begin to pass the “winding” pattern from the main
theme to each other over a continuous background of the
trill-like figures in the piano over supporting chords.
The order is cello, violin, cello, violin, viola,
violin. Then, the strings, in pairs, move from A minor
to a warmer E major, first violin and viola, then viola and
cello, using the “harmonized descent” that follows the main
pattern. All three string instruments then move back to
A minor over the descent, the piano slowing to triplet
7:15 [m. 205]--With a
quiet, urgent, intensity, the violin and viola begin to play
The cello takes the winding main pattern. The piano also
begins to play the pattern, passing it between the
hands. The cello then joins in the intense tremolo, all instruments
now playing the main pattern in harmony over the piano
bass. There is a powerful crescendo as the piano begins to play chords
in the right hand. There is a strong motion from A minor
to E minor.
7:33 [m. 214]--At a
huge arrival point, the strings in unison play a powerful
version of the main pattern in E minor. This version
includes a new downward plunge subtly introduced by the piano
bass in the last passage. There follows a long
transitional pattern. The piano right hand begins to
play fast broken octaves. Against them, the violin and
viola (in unison) and the cello and piano bass (also in
unison, but not with the upper strings), play metrically
displaced versions of the main pattern, the high strings
beginning on the last beats of each bar, the cello and piano
bass beginning on the downbeats.
7:50 [m. 223]--Re-transition.
the high point, the violin and viola again break into tremolo playing.
The piano bass and cello now begin to pass the thematic
pattern between them. The piano right hand slows from
fast broken octaves to descending arpeggios in triplet rhythm
as the piano bass (now quite low) and the cello come together
again (on metrically displaced groups of four, then three
8:08 [m. 232]--After
some length, the music rapidly quiets down again. The
long-range goal of this passage and the last has been the
preparatory “dominant” harmony, D major. The tremolos
end, as do the ever more hesitant piano triplets. The
strings are left alone for two unison plucked D’s (the second
without the violin).
8:18 [m. 237]--Theme
1, Part 2. Since the opening material was used for most
of the development section, including being stated unaltered
at its beginning, it is omitted here. The theme is
played in a direct transposition to the home major key of G
(where we would expect all themes in the recapitulation)
instead of the original B-flat. The cello has the
syncopated repeated-note pulsations, as in the exposition.
8:31 [m. 243]--Groups
of two repeated notes in the upper strings, long piano chords,
and motion toward an interrupted arrival point, as at 0:36 [m.
8:39 [m. 247]--Theme
1, Part 2 continues with a new inserted extension in G
major/minor. The pulsating notes are moved to the piano
bass, and the cello begins a new, highly expressive melody
that inverts the general descending motion of Theme 1, Part
2. The upper strings join, adding many chromatic notes
and some syncopation, and all instruments settle to an
expectant arrival, the pulsating piano bass continuing on the
“dominant” note, D.
9:07 [m. 259]--The
passage is analogous to 0:44 [m. 21], with the unison octaves
on the main winding pattern and the rapid loud/soft
alternation, then harmonization, crescendo, and arrival point, but the
beginning is on different pitches. Since Brahms is
already in G, there is no need to move back there, so the
opening is altered to avoid such a key change. The large
arrival point is as in the exposition.
9:19 [m. 265]--Transition.
at 0:57 [m. 27], with no changes.
9:35 [m. 273]--Continuation
of transition material, with the first four bars unaltered
from 1:13 [m. 35]. The last two bars of the passage,
however, have altered pitches and harmonies that effect an
unexpected key change to E-flat major. Then, the entire
passage from 1:24 [m. 41], as well as all of Theme 2, Part 1
are skipped. The passage merges directly into the
sequential descent with precipitous left hand octaves heard
before 2:46 [m. 79]. In total, 36 bars of exposition
material have been simply excised here, as opposed to the much
smaller insertion of new material at 8:39 [m. 247].
9:51 [m. 281]--Theme
2, Part 2, transposed to E-flat major from the D major of 2:46
[m. 79]. The function of E-flat major is to give later
emphasis to the minor version of the key on G, which contains
the note E-flat (a pitch not present in pure G major). In most
cases, such a theme would be in the home major key in the
recapitulation, but such an analogy has already happened with
Theme 1, Part 2.
10:06 [m. 289]--Continuation
of Theme 2, Part 2 with the piano, as at 3:02 [m. 87], but
with a new harmonic detour and alteration suggesting a motion
to D minor, and extended by one bar.
10:18 [m. 295]--New
piano octave phrase from 3:13 [m. 92]. This phrase
finally moves definitively back to the home key of G
minor. Aside from some register shifts and other minor
alterations, the most important difference is that it is in
minor instead of major. It is passed to strings, as
before, and leads toward the same strong cadence. This
time, the intensity surprisingly weakens at the cadence.
10:37 [m. 304]--Theme
2, Part 3. It is played in the home key of G minor and
is drastically altered. Instead of triumphant and
full-hearted, it is now mysterious and even ominous. The
strings play it alone, the violin taking the melody and
alternating it with a constant low “drone” on another
string. The other two strings provide smooth harmonies.
10:52 [m. 310]--In a
passage analogous to 3:44 [m. 107], the piano joins in a
cross-rhythm, the right hand playing triplets and the left
hand playing straight rhythm. The piano lines are
expressive and smooth, still in the quiet, mysterious minor
key. The violin continues with its melody and “drone,”
and the viola continues its slower smooth lines, but the cello
now plays isolated plucked notes.
11:07 [m. 316]--Analogous
to 3:57 [m. 113]. There is less contrast here, since the
music is already quiet, but the minor key still lends it a
darker character. The piano plays largely the same music
as in the earlier passage, as do the strings, but the violin
and viola now play their fragments in triplet rhythm.
The passage is abbreviated by one bar.
11:21 [m. 322]--Analogous
to 4:12 [m. 120]. Here, the music comes closer to the
exposition. The piano triplets and piano bass have the
same character, as does the violin melody (now doubled by
viola instead of cello). The cello line is less active
than the viola line in the earlier passage. The passage
is the same length, but the “deceptive” motion comes one bar
11:44 [m. 332]--Closing
Section in G minor. The piano returns to the winding
main theme Alternation with the string “sigh”
figures. This passage is exactly analogous to 4:34 [m.
12:10 [m. 343]--The
piano bass begins to play the main “winding octave”
theme. The strings respond on the weak beats, the viola
entering slightly earlier in syncopation. The piano
right hand plays in the triplet rhythm with a strong upper
voice projecting over the triplets. Two isolated right
hand figures on the weak beats alternate with three smoother
ones in the next bar. This alternation happens four
times. On the fifth “cycle” the groups of three are
heard in both bars, the violin and cello now alternating and
dovetailing with the piano on their own three-note
groups. The passage steadily, gradually, and powerfully
increases in intensity. It is roughly analogous to 4:59
[m. 141], but it is so radically different, obviously working
toward the ending, that the beginning of the coda can be
12:31 [m. 353]--The
violin and cello are reduced to two-note “sigh” figures, and
the piano right hand begins to play sets of descending
triplets without the strong upper voices. The left hand
continues with the “winding octaves.” The volume swells
powerfully, and all instruments arrive at an intense climax,
the viola finally abandoning its syncopation for feverish
triplets with the cello. The climax quickly
recedes. The strings, then the piano triplets and bass
drop out. Three bare unison plucked string octaves lead
to a rather “tragic” cadence. This corresponds roughly
with 5:21 [m. 151], but the character is greatly altered.
12:55 [m. 364]--The
strings in unison, beginning quietly, but arduously building
again, play the main winding octave theme. They hold
notes over bar lines as the piano, in harmony, responds to
them. Reaching steadily upward, the instruments come to
their last high point and then, sapped of all strength,
descend and diminish again. The strings play long chords
and the piano plays oscillating triplets under a syncopated
upper voice, all slowing to the final quiet G-minor chord.
13:38--END OF MOVEMENT [373
2nd Movement: Intermezzo - Allegro, ma non
troppo; Trio - Animato (Intermezzo [Scherzo] and Trio). C
MINOR, 9/8 time.
0:00 [m. 1]--Part
1. The strings alone open the movement, and all three
play with mutes throughout. The cello begins a quiet
pulsation on the keynote C. The violin and viola enter
in harmony with the hushed, melancholy main theme, which has a
drooping, sighing character. The cello stays on the same
note until the pulsation moves in the seventh bar. At
this point, the harmony veers to the “dominant” chord of G
0:19 [m. 13]--The
piano joins with chords in the rhythm of the main theme, now
in a brighter major key, as the cello continues its
pulsations. The violin and viola add plucked
interjections. The volume level remains very quiet, and
the piano melody moves toward an arrival point, not in C
minor, but in C major.
0:25 [m. 17]--Part 1,
Varied repetition. The arrival is somewhat aborted by
the breaking off of the piano. The pulsations move from
the cello to the viola. The main theme is now played by
the piano. The violin and cello, playing mostly in
unison, add a new counterpoint to the main theme. Motion
to G-major harmony, as before.
0:43 [m. 29]--The
brighter major-key extension is now played by the violin and
viola, the pulsations moving back to the cello. The
piano plays detached octaves taking the place of the previous
plucked violin/viola interjections. Arrival point in C
major, as before.
0:49 [m. 33]--Part
2. The constant pulsations finally break off. The
viola and cello begin to oscillate, and the piano, aborting
the expected cadence, repeats a sequence of the previous
descending chords played by the upper strings. These
chords move the key center to F minor, where the second major
theme is heard. It enters in the violin as the piano
completes its chords, and consists of a halting, rather
nervous melody decorated with grace notes (appogiaturas). The
violin continues to play the theme, which breaks into a duple
rhythm going against the prevailing 9/8. The piano plays
decorative arpeggios, first arching upward, then remaining
more static. The viola and cello play detached,
1:05 [m. 43]--The
piano right hand, playing in octaves, repeats the second
theme, including its grace notes. The left hand plays
supporting arpeggios along with the cello. The upper
strings combine arpeggios with repeated notes. At the
point where the theme breaks into duple rhythm, the piano
expands and intensifies it, extending it by two bars and
arriving at a full cadence in F minor.
1:20 [m. 52]--Full
statement of the main theme in F minor. The pulsations
are again in the cello. The thematic material itself is
passed between the violin/viola pairing and the piano,
beginning with the strings. The alternation comes after each
one-bar unit that begins on an upbeat. The last
alternation (after four previous ones) expands the units of
both strings and piano to two bars. An expected (and
corresponding) arrival on C major is aborted by an extension
to the main theme.
1:38 [m. 64]--An
extension to the main theme in F minor. There is one
more two-bar alternation between the upper strings and the
piano, a step higher than the last one. The strings
begin another pattern, but the piano comes in “early,” now
imitating the upper strings directly. The cello
pulsations never break. Both the strings and the piano
swell rapidly on this pattern, leading to the first louder
volumes in the movement as they come together. They move
back to the home key of C minor on strong chords, the viola
briefly joining the cello pulsations.
1:50 [m. 72]--After
two loud false starts over sharp piano chords and continuing
cello pulsations, the second theme is strongly played in the
home key of C minor. It is given in unison from the
violin and viola. The piano plays its decorative
arpeggios, as it had when the theme was played softly at 0:49
[m. 33]. When the cello pulsations finally break, the
instrument plays a plucked counterpoint in duple rhythm,
anticipating the duple shift of the theme.
When this duple passage arrives, the piano bass breaks into
broken octaves in the contrasting rhythm, leaving the piano
right hand alone to maintain the 9/8 pulse.
2:06 [m. 82]--The
music quiets down again, and the piano takes the repetition of
the second theme, transforming it utterly by changing it to C
major instead of
minor, albeit with many chromatic notes borrowed from the
minor. It is somewhat analogous to 1:05 [m. 43], but
there are certain differences, such as the piano splitting the
octaves between the hands and abandoning its left hand
arpeggios at the outset (they are reinstated at the motion to
duple rhythm). Also, the cello line is smoother and less
detached. The theme is even more extended than before,
delaying the cadence by four more bars. This delayed
C-major arrival releases much tension.
2:26 [m. 94]--At the
arrival point in C-major, the Theme 1 music originally heard
in major at 0:19 [m. 13] is used as the basis for a
“codetta.” The pulsations begin again, now heard for the
first time in the piano bass. The violin and viola play
the thematic material in harmony, the cello providing smooth
counterpoint. The right hand plays interjecting
octaves. At the end, the piano takes over the melody in
a reiteration that leads to a C-major cadence, the pulsations
briefly moving to the viola and cello, the interjections to
2:36 [m. 100]--The
strings begin a reiteration of the cadence, with many
chromatic notes, as the pulsation returns to the piano
bass. The descending reiteration is passed to the piano,
as before, with the pulsations now moving definitively back to
the cello, doubled briefly here by the viola.
2:42 [m. 104]--The
cadence is interrupted by the intrusion of the note B-flat in
the piano on the arrival. This interruption leads to a
statement of the principal portion of the main theme,
transformed to C major. The violin and viola play it in
harmony, the cello taking the pulsations, the piano playing
isolated interjections. Unexpectedly, the theme expands
higher and the piano right hand, playing full chords, briefly
imitates it before returning to detached chords, the cello
remaining constant on its pulsating low C.
2:53 [m. 111]--When
the upper strings reach a high C, they remain there, holding
it until the end of the main Intermezzo, the cello remaining
on its unmoving low C pulsations. Against this, the
piano plays four dissonant chords (two each of “augmented
sixth” and “diminished seventh” chords in alternation) that
resolve to C-major chords. The music gradually slows and
quiets. Two reiterations of the last of these major
chords complete the main Intermezzo. The cello
pulsations lead into the Trio as the upper strings abandon
their long-held high C.
TRIO (A-flat major) - Animato
3:04 [m. 117]--Theme
1. The piano begins its scurrying motion with an
arpeggio and then murmuring neighbor-note groups. The
violin presents the jaunty five-bar theme in A-flat,
characterized by descending two-note figures, against the
rapid piano figuration. Immediately following this, the
piano begins playing in octaves split between the hands, and
the viola and cello in unison play the main theme a fourth
lower, on E-flat. The viola/cello statement is slightly
altered at the end. The two statements are rather
3:15 [m. 127]--After a
descent, the piano alternates hands on the “neighbor-note”
groups. The music becomes significantly louder.
This occurs under another statement of the theme beginning on
E (notated as F-flat). The viola and cello play it, with
the violin following in close imitation, but the instruments
come together in harmony at the end. The theme
moves to the home minor key (A-flat minor) and quiets rapidly.
3:21 [m. 132]--The
“scurrying” motion and neighbor-note groups move to the
strings, especially the viola, with fragments in the cello at
the beginning and the violin at the end of the first theme
statement. The piano plays the original version of the
main theme in A-flat in octaves. It moves immediately to
the second statement starting on E-flat. Here, the
neighbor-note groups move to the violin and viola in
unison. The piano makes an alteration to the end of this
second statement, adding a new sliding ascent by half-steps.
3:33 [m. 142]--The
scurrying arpeggios and neighbor-groups move back to the
piano, which alternates them between hands. The strings
present another statement of the louder “imitative” version
from 3:21 [m. 132], this time with the violin leading the
viola and cello and displaced by a beat. The turn to
A-flat minor at the end is slightly altered, with the viola
and cello extending the downward motion while quieting down.
3:39 [m. 147]--Theme 2
in E major. The second theme is derived from the first,
but is less frantic. The strings play it in block
harmony over short repeated chord interjections from the
piano. It consists largely of a repeated rhythm
beginning with a brief long-short figure. As the theme
progresses, the violin begins to strive upward by
half-steps. With a cross-rhythm implying three 6/8 bars
over two 9/8 bars, piano chords and the cello divert the
harmony for a key change to A-flat.
3:52 [m. 157]--Theme 2
is now played in the home key of A-flat, with the cello taking
the melody. When the ascent by half-steps is reached,
the viola takes over the leading role. The piano
accompaniment is different. The right hand now plays
somewhat static arpeggios that are more in the character of
the “scurrying” accompaniment to Theme 1. The harmonic
motion at the end is avoided, but the cross-rhythm is
preserved. The viola leads to the return of Theme 1.
4:05 [m. 167]--The
piano merges seamlessly into the neighbor-note accompaniment
to Theme 1. Theme 1 itself begins on D-flat (where it
has not been played before). It is played by the violin
with the viola and cello providing new harmonies. The
piano then moves to the split octaves, while the viola and
cello play the main theme in its original form on A-flat in
unison, with an alteration at the end to move back to D-flat.
4:17 [m. 177]--The
volume is louder again, and the strings begin to play the
“imitative” version of Theme 1 with the viola and cello (in
unison) leading the violin. It begins on D-flat.
The piano accompaniment, however, is different. After a
descending arpeggio, the figures are alternated between the
hands as before, but now they play broken octaves instead of
“neighbor” figures, with the right hand harmonizing its upper
notes. The theme is extended, with the two-note descents
continuing at length, the violin continuing to follow the
viola and cello. The key begins to move to C minor, the
key of the main Intermezzo.
4:25 [m. 184]--At the
climax, the piano octaves plunge downward on harmony
suggesting F minor. The viola and cello hold a note
longer, allowing the violin to “catch up.” All three
string instruments now play in unison and also move
downward. The sequence is repeated with the violin
moving down to play in the same octave as the viola, all
instruments changing F to F-sharp, helping to further
facilitate a move back to C minor. The music quiets down
rapidly in this repetition.
4:30 [m. 188]--Re-transition.
strings in unison play a version of Theme 2, becoming quieter
and slower. They state a two-bar unit twice. Then
the piano takes over, leading to a strong cadence on C minor
and the return of the main Intermezzo.
INTERMEZZO REPRISE- “Tempo del Intermezzo”
4:38 [m. 193]--Unusually,
the reprise is written out in full, though it is
unvaried. Part 1, as at the opening.
4:57 [m. 205]--Piano
entry, as at 0:19 [m. 13].
5:03 [m. 209]--Part 1,
Varied repetition, as at 0:25 [m. 17].
5:21 [m. 221]--Major-key
as at 0:43 [m. 29].
5:27 [m. 225]--Part
2. Second theme, as at 0:49 [m. 33].
5:43 [m. 235]--Second
theme in the piano, as at 1:05 [m. 43].
5:58 [m. 244]--Return
of main theme in F minor, as at 1:20 [m. 52].
6:16 [m. 256]--Extension
to main theme, as at 1:38 [m. 64].
6:27 [m. 264]--Second
theme in C minor, as at 1:50 [m. 72].
6:44 [m. 274]--Piano
statement of second theme in C major, as at 2:06 [m. 82].
7:04 [m. 286]--“Codetta”
with Theme 1 music, as at 2:26 [m. 94].
7:13 [m. 292]--Chromatic
of cadence, as at 2:36 [m. 100].
7:19 [m. 296]--Interruption
of cadence, main theme in C major, and rise to held note, as
at 2:42 [m. 104].
7:30 [m. 303]--High
note in upper strings and resolution of dissonant chords, as
at 2:53 [m. 111].
7:42 [m. 309]--CODA.
The coda is based on the Trio, but it is in C major. The
piano plays introductory arpeggios and then the strings, in
harmony, state Theme 1 of the Trio over piano neighbor-note
figures alternating between the hands. The strings reach
a drone-like C-major chord, with the viola moving over the
drone before settling on the chord. The piano continues
the neighbor-note figures until the viola settles. It
then plays three arpeggios before a final, wisp-like rolled
chord, all under the held string chord.
8:04--END OF MOVEMENT [321
Movement: Andante con moto (Large ternary form--ABA’).
E-FLAT MAJOR, 3/4 time.
0:00 [m. 1]--The
melody begins with an upbeat. The strings present the
main theme of the A
section. It is lyrical, but powerful. The violin
and cello play the melody in unison octaves, the viola
providing a full, warm, and rich harmony in
double-stops. The piano provides a steadily moving
accompaniment, mostly in arpeggios, but also including
back-and-forth motion. The entire piano part is doubled
in octaves between the hands. The first phrase moves to
the “dominant” chord, B-flat major.
0:23 [m. 9]--The
second phrase strongly asserts the home key of E-flat before
veering off with more chromatic notes. The first motion
is again toward B-flat, including a quiet echo of a two-note
sigh figure in the melody, but then the motion seems to be
toward D, where there is an arrival point. D major,
however, is really functioning as the “dominant” pulling
toward G minor, a key also related to B-flat. The violin
and cello still play in octaves, with the full viola
double-stop harmony and the steadily moving piano.
0:47 [m. 17]--The
music suddenly becomes quiet and mysterious in a contrasting
phrase. The piano finally abandons its steadily moving
octaves and begins playing chords in triplet rhythm against a
steady drone bass. The strings narrowly creep forward,
the violin leading with gently pushing two-note figures.
The key here is G minor, though it is not strongly asserted.
0:58 [m. 21]--The
piano takes over the contrasting phrase with right-hand
octaves. The left-hand bass now more clearly asserts the
note G. The triplet chords move to the strings, with the
cello holding steady on G, doubling the piano bass but playing
in the triplet rhythm. The phrase is extended by a bar,
with the harmonies moving toward C minor (the related minor
key to the movement’s home key of E-flat major). There
is a crescendo in
volume at the end of the expanded phrase.
1:14 [m. 26]--
The piano suddenly erupts in an E-flat major chord and
descending arpeggio, with the violin playing the chord and the
two lower strings moving up on the arpeggio. This serves
as a one-bar lead-in to the return of the main melody, the
violin and cello still playing in octaves with the viola
harmony and steady piano octaves. The phrase is expanded
upward and extended by two bars, incorporating several
chromatic notes. The viola begins to play in triplet
rhythm, abandoning the double-stops. A cadence in E-flat
(with a strong suggestion of the minor mode) appears to be
imminent with a turn figure in the violin, but this is averted
with a “deceptive” motion to a dissonant “diminished seventh”
1:44 [m. 36]--The
cello and viola lead out of the dissonant chord. The
violin repeats its cadence-suggesting turn figure, and the
cello joins it again in octaves.. The piano also begins
its steady octave motion again, while the viola provides
harmony without double-stops. The music is extremely
full-hearted here. The violin and cello play another
turn figure, leading to a very strong, satisfying arrival on
1:56 [m. 40]--The
strings follow the arrival with an extension consisting of
soaring phrases with long-short rhythm. The viola still
harmonizes the unison violin and cello. The piano right
hand breaks into rapid arching arpeggios, the left hand
playing solid bass octaves that outline the first phrase of
the main theme. The violin and cello move to a leaping
syncopation. There is harmonic motion toward the
“dominant” of B-flat in a mixture of major and minor.
2:08 [m. 44]--The
piano suddenly drops out, the music quiets down, and the
violin leads in a version of the contrasting phrase from 0:47
[m. 17]. The cello provides smooth harmony, and the
viola plays repeated harmonized triplet groups. The
violin notes are almost the same as in the previous
presentation of this phrase, but the key center seems to be
more on B-flat than on G minor. The volume increases
2:20 [m. 48]--The
previous string passage has veered at the last moment to F
minor from B-flat. Here, the passage from 1:56 [m. 40]
erupts with the rapid piano arpeggios, the bass line outlining
the theme, the soaring violin/cello phrases, and the
syncopation, given in a new minor-key version.
2:32 [m. 52]--The
“contrasting” phrase is heard again as the piano drops out and
the music again becomes suddenly quiet. The viola plays
repeated harmonized triplets, as before. The phrase is
extended with a piano entry. The piano right hand takes
over the harmonized triplets from the viola. The crescendo is more
powerful, and the harmony moves strongly toward C minor, as it
had before 0:58 [m. 21]. The instruments come together
at the end in emphatic chords.
2:52 [m. 59]--The
instruments arrive on a G-major chord that functions as the
“dominant” leading to C. The strings drop out and the
piano suddenly begins playing clipped octaves in long-short
rhythm, anticipating the upcoming march in the middle
section. These rapidly become quiet. A middle
voice emerges in the right hand on a strong half-step
2:59 [m. 61]--The
middle voice moves down by half-steps in both
hands. Against this, the cello, then the viola,
and finally the violin enter with a mournful phrase in C
minor. The string counterpoint eventually comes together
with the piano’s clipped long-short rhythm. After the
middle voice reaches D, the piano bass leaps up and comes down
in a scale, and the volume rapidly increases. The middle
voice in the right hand rapidly moves back up by half-steps,
doubled by the violin. The instruments arrive on another
3:14 [m. 66]--The
music again becomes suddenly quiet. The strings now play
the clipped long-short rhythm, the descending “middle voice”
being placed in the viola. The piano bass, then the
right hand doubled by the cello, play the “mournful
phrase.” The right hand then takes it alone in
octaves. As in the previous passage, the instruments
come together and move toward a G-major chord over a strong
increase in volume. This time, the voice moving by
half-steps moves from the middle to the top of the piano
3:29 [m. 71]--In the
final transition to the B
section, the piano’s long-short rhythm is reduced to quiet
double notes in the left hand. The viola takes the
“mournful phrase,” followed by the violin, then the viola
again, and finally the violin and cello together. These
entries dovetail together. The “mournful” phrase now
sounds more hopeful, as it has been transformed to C major
instead of minor. The piano left hand reaches “dominant”
chords under the last violin/cello entry, leading finally to
the central march.
B section--Animato, C
3:41 [m. 75]--First
statement of march. The piano quietly plays the
triple-time march in C major, which features clipped
long-short rhythms as well as triplet rhythms. The
harmonies are largely doubled in both hands. The strings
play very short interjections of repeated notes and other
figures, the viola and cello sometimes playing plucked chords.
3:57 [m. 83]--Second
statement of march. The second statement is longer,
making large digressions to E-flat major and C minor.
The volume remains quiet throughout, but toward the end, the
short interjections of the strings expand to repeated octaves
in triplet rhythm from the violin and viola as the cello moves
to double the piano bass. The first cadence in C major
is diverted for more triplet rhythms and minor-key
digressions, with drum-like figures in the piano and the
strings taking over the march melody. Finally, the
cadence is reached. It is reiterated in the strings with
drum-like cello repeated notes.
4:31 [m. 101]--Bridge
passage. The reiteration of the cadence is loudly
interrupted with a sudden A-flat major chord from the
piano. A march phrase is strongly played with three
sequences in A-flat. The strings play rapid repeated
notes leaping down an octave at the end of their four-note
sets. The harmony of the last sequence is diverted again
4:43 [m. 107]--The
piano drops out, and the strings, still playing at a strong
volume, present a new phrase with a winding and highly
chromatic violin line against sharply marked triplets from the
viola and cello. These are also quite chromatic, and the
phrase vacillates between minor and major.
4:51 [m. 111]--The
winding phrase is now given a fourth lower from the viola and
cello in unison. The piano left hand, then the right
hand imitate the viola/cello line in succession. The
strong triplets are now played by the violin. This
extended passage acts as a transition back to the main
march. The piano suddenly interjects the short clipped
figures previously played by the strings, and the strings play
unison triplet arpeggios that lead to a strong C-major cadence
and the return of the main march melody.
5:07 [m. 119]--Third
statement of march. With a grand and triumphant arrival,
the march melody is played by the violin and viola in unison
with the cello harmonizing them in rhythm, the piano joyously
playing the short repeated-note and chord interjections.
The statement uses the melody and harmony of the first
statement from 3:41 [m. 75], but with the instrumentation
reversed and with the character transformed from the
originally quiet presentation.
5:23 [m. 127]--Fourth
statement of march. The piano takes over the melody
again, passing the short interjections and chords back to the
strings. There are now no plucked chords. The
statement begins in a similar manner to the second statement
from 3:57 [m. 83], with the same digression to E-flat, but
suddenly it takes on the character of the bridge passage from
4:31 [m. 101], merging directly into the third sequence from
that passage, now in E-flat instead of A-flat and moving
toward G. The volume remains strong.
5:35 [m. 133]--The
winding phrase enters in the manner of that played at 4:51 [m.
111]. The piano right hand begins in octaves, with the
left hand imitating. The two upper strings play the
strong triplet rhythms. The emphatic chords at the end
merge with a second statement begun by the cello and joined by
the violin. The piano left hand, then the right hand
(both in octaves) imitate them, the viola alone playing the
triplets. The emphatic chords now lead to an apparent
strong arrival in C minor.
5:58 [m. 144]--The
expected C-minor arrival is harshly interrupted by a dissonant
“diminished seventh” chord. Out of this, at a suddenly
quiet volume, emerges material from the melody of the A section in the viola
and cello. The cello begins to play syncopated notes,
and the piano bass plays low two-note figures in
octaves. The music remains in minor until the following
6:16 [m. 152]--The
violin begins an apparent full statement of the first phrase
from the A section
melody in the key of the B section, C major. The violin
even decorates the melody with a turn figure. The viola
and cello play the steady octave accompaniment previously
associated with the piano, the piano itself playing only low
bass octaves on G. After four bars, the piano right hand
enters, doubling the violin with harmony, the viola and cello
also contributing to the harmonization. The piano bass
now plays the winding line in octaves. The phrase is
brought to completion with a small digression at the end.
6:36 [m. 160]--The
viola and cello, in unison, lead an extension of the phrase,
the violin and piano right hand following them. The
piano bass continues to play the steady winding octaves.
The violin/piano melody begins to move up by half-steps.
The volume strongly builds. The piano bass, then the
violin, then the piano right hand emerge in descending
arpeggios. The violin and piano right hand each, in that
order, present two more descending arpeggios, the second
adding syncopation. Against these arpeggios, the viola
and cello play rising two-note figures in thirds. The
final violin and piano arpeggios lead back to E-flat major and
to the warm, satisfying return.
violin presents the main melody, with syncopation and other
decorations, including a turn figure. The cello
harmonizes the melody at the beginning, but then diverges into
a new line, which it never did in the first A section. The
viola enters, harmonizing the cello line. The piano now
accompanies with arpeggios in triplet rhythm, first with the
hands playing together and then in opposite directions.
7:18 [m. 176]--The
piano alone plays the second phrase. The material is the
same as that from 0:23 [m. 9]. An inner voice provides
the steadily moving line. The echoing “sigh” is
included, as is the motion toward B-flat and to D. The
music quiets down. The strings enter right before the
arrival point on D.
7:40 [m. 184]--The
contrasting phrase from 0:47 [m. 17] is played in a very
similar manner as before. The violin line is
identical. The viola and cello harmonies are somewhat
different. The piano right hand plays a single winding
line in triplet rhythm instead of the repeated chords.
The “drone” bass in the piano left hand includes more steady
and rapid thumping of the note.
7:51 [m.188]--For this
statement of the contrasting phrase, the piano right hand,
which presents it, is identical to 0:58 [m. 21]. The
surroundings, as in the previous passage, are different.
The left hand continues the more steady, rapid thumping, now
on G. The violin plays the winding triplet rhythm
instead of repeated chords. The viola and cello continue
their smoother lines. There is a crescendo, but the
following music returns to the quiet level.
8:06 [m. 193]--This
music is a highly transformed version of what was heard at
1:14 [m. 26]. The E-flat chord and arpeggio arrive, but
they are now against sweeping, arching triplets in the
strings. When the melody enters, it is in a decorated
and embellished version played by the piano in octaves.
The left hand plays slower low octaves. The strings
continue their sweeping triplets. The chromatic notes
and minor-key suggestion at the aborted cadence are all
present within the embellished theme. This “return”
begins softer, but swells near the aborted cadence.
8:34 [m. 203]--This is
an even greater intensification of the music from 1:44 [m.
36]. All strings lead out of the dissonant chord, then
continue with their arching triplets passed between
them. The piano, instead of the strings, leads with a
turn into the full-hearted cadence music, finally reaching the
satisfying arrival with another turn. Brahms originally
included a passage after the cadence that was similar to the
beginning of the earlier “transition” music (with rapid piano
arpeggios), but he deleted it, opting to move right into the
new coda music from the cadence.
8:47 [m. 207]--The
coda begins with the music of the “contrasting phrase” from
0:47 [m. 17] and 7:40 [m. 184]. The phrase itself is
played by the violin. The piano, after its strong
cadence, breaks into harmonious descending triplets doubled
between the hands. The viola and cello play more static,
drone-like triplets. The violin ends its phrase with a
new trill and cadence.
8:57 [m. 211]--The
viola leads a new statement of the phrase, the violin lagging
behind and eventually joining it in octaves. The piano
and cello continue their triplets. The cadence is
extended, adding two more trills. The second of these is
held for a full bar, building for its lead-in to the faster
9:18 [m. 218]--Brahms
marks the closing passage poco
animato. The piano begins a rapid development
of the main melody with undulating inner-voice motion, the
cello doubling the drone-like bass. The viola enters
prominently with Theme 1 material and emerges into a
trill. The cello breaks from the piano bass under the
trill. The violin then enters on the viola trill,
doubling the top piano voice.
9:29 [m. 224]--The
violin and piano right hand begin to undulate and wind around
the melodic material. This includes a prominent
minor-key inflection (C-flat). The cello and piano bass
imitate these lines, while the viola provides a constant,
steady repeated two-note “sigh” pattern. The violin and
piano then settle on “sigh” patterns including the dissonant
C-flat. The cello’s lower voice and the piano bass break
into an oscillating motion with syncopation across bar
lines. Here the music slows and quiets to the end.
The violin, viola, and piano “sigh” figures move down for the
last two bars of this pattern (while the cello’s upper voice
imitates the “dissonant” sighs). After the pattern
breaks, piano arpeggios under long, soft string chords bring a
final arrival and close.
10:12--END OF MOVEMENT [235
Movement: Rondo alla
Zingarese - Presto (Highly sectionalized Rondo
form). G MINOR, 2/4 time.
FIRST RONDO THEME
The complex is completely organized into three-bar units,
which is part of the “gypsy” character.
0:00 [m. 1]--Main
Rondo theme (a).
The furious beginning is launched with immediate forward
energy. The piano and the two upper strings play the
theme itself, decorated by grace notes (appogiaturas) and
harmonized in thirds and sixths. The cello and piano
bass solidly thump on the keynote G, punctuating each bar with
a rolled chord. The steady bass G is only abandoned at
the end of the first phrase (the first two three-bar
units). The phrase is repeated, with the violin and
piano right hand an octave higher.
0:09 [m. 13]--A
contrasting phrase (two three-bar units) moves generally
downward in two waves, with turning “neighbor-note”
figures. The cello has broken octaves while the piano
bass plays more free leaping harmonies.
0:13 [m. 19]--Return
of the opening music. It begins at a quieter level and
works up again. The repetition of the phrase with the
higher violin and piano right hand is changed to strive
farther upward and reach a complete cadence in G-minor.
0:22 [m. 31]--The huge
first complex has its own middle section (b). The main
material is a unison half-step motion from the piano bass,
viola and cello, then a rising violin/viola scale with quieter
piano chords after the beat. This is heard twice, first
with the half-step on F-sharp and G. The second sequence
begins with the half-step on A and B-flat (these are the
“leading” motions of G minor and the related B-flat major).
0:27 [m. 37]--The
half-step motion is now played on C-sharp and D, then repeated
with the violin and piano right hand added. A third
statement of the motion is harmonized in the violin and
piano. These half-steps are followed by two expansions
of the rising scale that create their own three-bar
units. These transfer the scales to the piano and the
after-beat chords (now no longer quiet) to the strings.
The first of these is played in doubled octaves and is more
halting. The second adds a broken-octave bass and is
more forward-moving, emphasizing an oscillation after the
0:35 [m. 46]--The
first two units from 0:22 [m. 31] are presented again, this
time with the half-step motions harmonized. They are now
played by violin (in triple-stops) and piano, with the viola
and cello taking the scale patterns. The piano takes the
after-beat chords under the scales.
0:40 [m. 52]--The
C-sharp to D half-steps and the expanded scale patterns from
0:27 [m. 37] are repeated. The half-steps are played by
violin and piano. The second and third are now
harmonized. The first scale pattern is taken by viola
and cello with piano after-beat chords. The second
pattern is played by violin and the right hand of the piano,
with the chords in the viola and cello. The piano bass
has broken octaves under the second pattern, as it did
before. This leads directly into the partial reprise of
the main theme (a).
0:47 [m. 61]--The
return of the main theme is abbreviated, and begins with the
contrasting phrase from 0:09 [m. 13]. It is more
elaborate, with neighbor-note figures passed between the
strings, the viola leading with new ones on the
downbeats. The cello takes the former viola part.
The piano bass now plays the leaping broken octaves without
its previous harmonies, and the piano right hand has new,
furious downward-arching arpeggios.
0:52 [m. 67]--The
opening phrases of the main Rondo theme are played as they
were at 0:13 [m. 19], with the complete G-minor close but
without the quieter opening. A very brief pause breaks
the feverish pace.
FIRST CONTRASTING SECTION (B)
- B-flat major
This contrasting section is in a “rounded binary” form.
The music is now organized into two-bar units. These are
in turn organized into groups of six (three phrases of two
units each, as opposed to two of three). This creates
twelve-bar groups, as in the main Rondo section where the
units were three bars each.
1:02 [m. 80]--Part 1 (a). For the entire
section, the piano has light, constant, rapidly running notes
in scales, oscillations, or arpeggios. The hands are
doubled in octaves except at the end of each part. The
string harmonies are plucked throughout. They also play
rapidly, but only half as fast as the piano. The first
part has three phrases, the third of which contains rapid
descending piano arpeggios and strong cadence gestures from
the strings. The second phrase moves from B-flat major
to G minor, where the third phrase is heard.
1:10 [m. 80]--Part 1 (a) repeated.
1:19 [m. 92]--Part
2. Contrasting passage (b).
there are three phrases. The strings take their
bows. The viola plays in the fast rhythm of the piano
with repeated notes that move slowly. The cello and
violin alternate with the “slower” notes. The piano
continues its rapidly running passage work, now with murmuring
trill-like motion. The second phrase is a repetition (a
sequence) of the first, but a step higher. The third
phrase begins by repeating (only) the second unit of the
second phrase a step higher still. It then diverges as
the trills creep back down and the music slows, moving back to
1:29 [m. 104]--Return
to the main portion (a’),
with the strings again plucking. The second and third
phrases are altered, both reaching higher. This is to
allow the section to end in B-flat rather than moving to G
minor. It does pivot to G minor at the last second for
the repetition of Part 2.
1:38 [m. 92]--Part 2
repeated. Contrasting passage (b).
1:48 [m. 104]--Return
to main portion (a’).
Last-second pivot to G minor for the return of the Rondo
theme, into which the arpeggios rush.
SECOND RONDO THEME COMPLEX (A’)
The middle section (b)
is omitted in this complex.
1:56 [m. 116]--Main
Rondo theme, as at the opening. Phrase and repetition an
octave higher. The piano right hand is quite different
in this statement. It does not double the violin on the
melody, instead providing harmony and holding certain notes
across bar lines. The strings and piano left hand are
2:05 [m. 128]--Contrasting
as at 0:09 [m. 13].
2:10 [m. 134]--Return
of the opening music, as at 0:13 [m. 19]. The “new”
harmony and notes held across bar lines are transferred to the
violin and viola. The piano plays the original
melody. The music begins quietly, but for this
statement, it remains quiet, even getting softer. Brahms
even thins the texture somewhat near the cadence. After
the cadence, there is a brief extension that trails down and
quiets even more. Three more three-bar units are added,
reiterating the cadence and steadily decreasing in activity.
SECOND CONTRASTING SECTION (C)
- Meno Presto, G major
“Rounded binary” form, organized into three-bar units.
Six-bar phrases, two units each.
2:27 [m. 155]--Part 1
ringing chords from all instruments. The strings
reiterate the longer chords with a short-long pulsation.
The single phrase ends with a trill and a motion to the
2:34 [m. 155]--Part 1
2:42 [m. 161]--Part
2. Contrasting passage (b).
is set in G minor. The piano strives upward,
incorporating some triplet rhythms. The strings play in
an “oom-pah” rhythm, with the cello on the downbeats, the
violin and viola responding with chords. As with the
main phrase, this one also moves to the “dominant” D-major
2:49 [m. 167]--Return
to the main portion (a’),
which is intensified with the addition of drum-like triplet
octaves in the piano and anticipatory repeated notes in the
upper strings. The second half of the phrase is altered
to reach higher upward and arrive at a full cadence in G
2:56 [m. 161]--Part 2
repeated. Contrasting passage (b).
3:03 [m. 167]--Return
to main portion (a’)
with closed G-major cadence. There is a short pause.
THIRD CONTRASTING SECTION (D)
- E minor
“Rounded binary” form. This section is organized into
four-bar units and eight-bar phrases. This is the only
major section that abandons the larger units in six or twelve
3:12 [m. 173]--Part 1
(a). The slower
tempo of Section C
continues. The character is more melancholy, as seen in
the slower sections of “Hungarian” music by composers such as
Liszt. The viola and cello present a mournful theme with
triplets, the cello playing above the viola. The piano
plays a quiet “oom-pah” rhythm with low left-hand octaves and
right hand after-beat chords. In the second half of the
phrase, the violin enters with brief imitation before joining
the harmony. The embellished cadence moves to B
3:27 [m. 181]--Part 1
repeat. The violin now joins the main melody, doubling
the cello an octave higher. The viola’s harmony is more
flowing, with constant triplets. The cello abandons the
melody in the second half that moves to B minor/major,
allowing the violin to take it. Instead, the cello plays
a new counterpoint in straight rhythm, clashing with the
triplets of the viola.
3:43 [m. 189]--Part
2. Contrasting passage (b).
piano leads this phrase, playing an ominous-sounding
alteration of the melancholy theme, largely in octaves with
steady detached bass notes. It gradually works upward as
the music moves back to E minor. The strings provide
soft chords at strategic high points, more concentrated at the
end. There is a very gradual rise in volume in
preparation for the return. An extra bar is added for
this preparation, extending the phrase to nine bars.
3:58 [m. 198]--Return
to the main portion (a’).
It is much louder and fuller than its first
presentation. The approach includes a mild
syncopation in all the strings. Although the violin
doubles the cello on the main melody, it is actually closer to
the initial statement than to the varied repeat, as the viola
does not play its flowing accompaniment, but rather plays in
block harmony with the violin/cello melody. The cello
abandons the melody only at the very end. The right hand
piano chords are more sustained, leaning from higher chords
into lower ones during most of the bars. Unusually, the
motion to B minor/major is retained.
4:15 [m. 189]--Part 2
repeated. Contrasting passage (b).
4:30 [m. 198]--Return
to main portion (a’).
Brahms indicates a slowing and softening at the end of the
FOURTH CONTRASTING SECTION (B’)
- G major
4:49 [m. 206]--Part 1
(a). The main Presto tempo
returns. The material of the first contrasting section
is presented in G major. It is indicated to be played
even more softly and lightly than before. The running
piano notes, previously doubled in octaves, are now played in
harmony between the hands, mostly in close thirds. The
strings are plucked, as before. The motion in the second
phrase is to E minor (the related minor key to G major).
This is analogous to the B-flat--G minor motion in the first B section. The piano
left hand plays rolled chords on the weak beats of the last
4:58 [m. 218]--Part
2. Contrasting passage (b).
running notes are now transferred to the violin and cello, who
play them in octaves. Previously, they were in the piano
throughout. The viola rests for the entire phrase.
The piano adds an entirely new counterpoint that is based on
the second contrasting section (C). This includes some octave doubling
between the hands, especially in the last half. The
three phrases are virtually identical in the strings (except
for one note alteration in the last phrase), which is
unexpected given the sequences of the first B section. There is
some variation in the second phrase of the piano.
5:07 [m. 230]--Instead
of returning to the music of Part 1, the material of the
contrasting passage is extended for another eight-bar group
(two instead of three phrases). The viola joins the
running violin and cello, playing mostly in unison with the
violin. All three instruments occasionally jump an
octave when one or both of the others do not. The second
phrase introduces the sequencing and variation that was absent
in the previous passage. The piano has continued its new
counterpoint, adding syncopation. In the second phrase,
there is a dramatic crescendo,
and in the last two bars, the piano erupts into a rapid
downward-arching scale bridge in groups of six and seven
notes. This leads powerfully into the next section.
FIFTH CONTRASTING SECTION (C’)
- G major (presumably Meno Presto)
5:13 [m. 238]--Part 1
(a). After a new
initial chord leading out of the previous section, the music
is as it was at 2:27 [m. 155], with only minimal variation,
mainly added double-stops in the strings.
5:20 [m. 244]--Part
2. Contrasting passage (b).
music is as at 2:42 [m. 161], but the parts of the strings and
piano are exchanged. The strings take the
upward-striving material (beginning in unison but diverging at
the end), the piano the “oom-pah” rhythm.
5:28 [m. 250]--Return
to the main portion (a’).
The string and piano parts continue to be exchanged from the
previous appearance at 2:49 [m. 167]. The piano has the
“anticipatory” repeated notes. Full, loud cadence in G
major, as before.
THIRD RONDO THEME COMPLEX (A”)
- Tempo I, G minor
The “Tempo I” presumably indicates that the previous C’ section was in the
“Meno Presto” tempo.
5:36 [m. 256]--This
complex begins with the middle section (b). The music is
essentially identical to 0:22 [m. 31], with three differences:
the piano adds another octave above on the half-steps, a trill
is added to both piano and strings on these half-steps, and
the piano chords under the scales are now played loudly.
5:41 [m. 262]--The
first two three-bar units are identical to 0:27 [m. 37],
except for the addition of string trills on the C-sharp--D
half-steps. The third three-bar unit, where the piano
adds a bass in broken octaves, is set a half-step higher than
it was in the first complex, adding tension and contrast.
5:48 [m. 271]--This is
essentially identical to 0:35 [m. 46], except for some fuller
chords in the piano bass and the lack of a softer dynamic for
the piano chords under the scales.
5:53 [m. 277]--Identical
to 0:40 [m. 52].
6:01 [m. 286]--Contrasting
from the main section in its more elaborate form, as at 0:47
[m. 61]. The ending is altered very slightly and
abruptly cut off (in a one-chord extension), avoiding the
rush into the opening music of the main Rondo theme.
6:06 [m. 293]--The
piano and strings play a loud, dissonant chord (a “ninth”
chord). Then the piano is given an unexpected cadenza. There is a
series of sixteen powerful descending groups, mostly in
accented groups of six beginning with a lower note (except for
the first two, which are shorter, and the last one, which is
extended). When the opening note reaches “middle D,” on
the eighth group, it stalls there, the following groups
becoming wider and continuing to reach downward. These
groups move steadily down the keyboard. The last is
extended to eleven notes plus a final low octave D, where the
music pauses. The cadenza is unmeasured, and notated as
DEVELOPMENTAL SECTION combining the music of various sections
6:20 [m. 294]--After
the piano cadenza, the instrument drops out. The
following music is marked “Meno Presto.” The strings
alone play an imitative version of the music from the third
contrasting section (D)
in G minor. The strings enter from high to low, violin,
viola, then cello. The counterpoint continues for the
first half of the phrase. In the second half, the cello
leads the viola, then the violin in each of the first three
bars. The phrase is extended by one bar, to nine
total. At the end, the music moves to its original
harmony and key areas of E and B. It also becomes
quieter. The cello links to the next passage with a
6:43 [m. 303]--The
music is marked “Poco più Presto.” It is from the first
and fourth contrasting sections (B), and played by the piano alone. There
are two phrases, beginning in E minor. The running
scales in the right hand are not played as fast as in the B sections. The left
hand plays two arching arpeggios, then breaks into rising
broken octaves. After the two phrases and a crescendo, the piano
plays a long, loud descending scale in one group of seven,
then two groups of eight notes plus the final note, all
notated over two bars. The music has moved to F-sharp
minor, and the scale ends on the “dominant” note of that key.
6:53 [m. 313]--The
piano again drops out, and the strings present an imitative
version of the music from the second and fifth contrasting
The violin leads the viola and cello, who play together.
There is a six-bar passage in F-sharp minor. Then there
is a four-bar passage with shorter figures in A minor.
7:03 [m. 323]--The
previous passage merges into a new set of imitations with the
viola and cello now separated, the instruments entering top to
bottom. There are two three-bar sets of
imitations. These are followed by six one-bar groups
where the viola and cello again enter together. The
music becomes steadily louder and faster and leads gradually
back to the home key of G minor.
7:13 [m. 335]--Transition
to coda. The piano plays the scurrying music of B while the strings play
figures reminiscent of C.
The piano enters surreptitiously as the previous passage
ends. There are three four-bar phrases, each one a fifth
higher. The piano bass, however, steadily plays broken
octaves on D throughout. The volume and speed steadily
increase. After the third phrase, a fourth one sequences
two shorter units up two more steps as the intensity
increases. Then the piano breaks into cascading
arpeggios on a fifth phrase, the strings punctuating the beat.
7:28 [m. 355]--The
strings briefly drop out and the piano quiets down
suddenly. The pace is now very fast. The piano plays a
series of four-note scale figures over a rapid crescendo. The
constant bass octave D’s have now moved down lower and are
played at the same rate as the scales. After one phrase,
the strings enter on a powerful unison arpeggio for the last
phrase and break into a trill over the piano scales.
FOURTH RONDO THEME COMPLEX (CODA) - Molto Presto
7:34 [m. 363]--At
breakneck pace, the main Rondo theme enters after the arrival
of the previous scales and trill. It is essentially as
at the beginning, but with the piano left hand slightly
simplified to accommodate the speed. All instruments are
playing at full volume.
7:41 [m. 375]--The
contrasting phrase begins, but after the first three-bar unit,
a new such unit is inserted to build intensity as the piano
bass settles on broken octaves. Then there is a third
unit (expanding the phrase to three of them) that is like the
first one, but a third lower and with more forward momentum.
7:47 [m. 384]--The
three-bar units are abandoned. The piano right hand and
violin break into two arching scales, then one purely
ascending one, the piano playing in octaves. The piano
bass and cello thump on broken octaves, and the viola provides
7:51 [m. 390]--At the
arrival point of the scales, the instruments all join in
unison (the piano bass in octaves) and play a series of
sequences based on the main Rondo theme, winding up for the
close. These continue for nine bars, retaining the
spirit of the three-bar units. The movement and the
quartet are then closed by four powerful (harmonized)
cadences. The last one is held for two bars before
cutting off sharply with a unison G. Brahms notates a
bar of rest after the cutoff, perhaps to create an eight-bar
cadence unit (if the arrival point of the unison music--its
ninth bar--is counted as the first bar of this unit).
8:10--END OF MOVEMENT [405
END OF QUARTET
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