SYMPHONY NO. 2 in D MAJOR, OP. 73
Recording: Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Claudio Abbado [DG 435
The rather swift
composition of the Second Symphony in the summer of 1877 stands in
marked contrast to the many years spent on the First. It seems as
if, having removed the great hurdle of producing a symphony, a sequel
could arise with relatively little effort a year later. Brahms
wrote it in the rural and natural atmosphere of southern Austria, which
may have contributed to the work’s essentially pastoral nature.
Commentators today often note the extreme contradictions of mood in the
first movement and the dark hues of the slow movement to put the
“pastoral” notion to rest, but despite the troubled moments, the
symphony’s overall effect is still radiant and bucolic. The
contradictions, however, are very real. Even the orchestration is
a clue to this, as the Second is the only one of the four symphonies to
employ a tuba along with its three trombones. The trombones and
tuba lend solemnity and darkness to the second movement and certain key
moments in the first movement and finale, but are also capable of
producing a blaze of joy at the symphony’s end. Silences and
dissipation are common. The first movement is enormous by any
standard. It is very long even without the very long exposition
repeat, which is usually observed because of the very long first
ending. The content of the exposition alone is far more extensive
than in that of any of the other three first movements. The
opening three-note figure pervades the other movements as well,
especially the finale. The slow second movement is extremely
complex and chromatic and, while beautiful, has a sort of seriousness
that is not even matched by the corresponding movement of the Fourth
Symphony. The movement also has great rhythmic and metric
complexity. The third movement is another moderately paced
“scherzo substitute” like that of the first. Although this time
the main section is in triple meter, the five-part structure is new and
a true tour de force, combining Schumann’s “scherzo with two trios”
model with a deft variation concept across the whole movement, through
which the starkly contrasting tempi and meters are given unity.
It is the shortest movement in the symphonies in terms of performance
time. The finale is
joyous and extroverted, surpassed in exuberance perhaps only by the
“Academic Festival” Overture. But even this brilliant movement
has an unusually hushed opening and an almost shockingly mysterious
re-transition passage that sounds like the nebulous opening of Mahler’s
First Symphony! The work remains an audience
favorite. Even the first movement’s great length is balanced by a
flood of inspired content and contrasts. The symphony has been
criticized as “top heavy,” but the finale is merely fast, not short,
and may well be the composer’s most satisfying conclusion of all.
It does not need the gigantic structure of the First Symphony’s last
movement to accomplish that.
IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut Lübeck)
IMSLP (from Breitkopf &
Härtel Sämtliche Werke)
1st Movement: Allegro non troppo (Sonata-Allegro
form). D MAJOR, 3/4 time.
0:00 [m. 1]--Theme 1. The
first bar sounds like an
introduction. The cellos and basses play a hushed four-note
motive that is extremely important in the course of the movement.
It is a turning figure, beginning on the keynote, that jumps down to
the “dominant” note. As the low strings jump to this fourth note
in the second bar, the horns and bassoons begin the second idea, a
mellow, beautifully harmonized melody that outlines the chord of D
major and includes an downward octave leap. The third bar of this
melody turns the low string figure upside down. All is played at
a subdued level.
0:08 [m. 5]--As the melody
completes its first phrase, the low strings
begin another statement of the four-note motive a third higher.
The four-bar phrases of the low string motive and the main melody are
oriented one bar apart. The melody’s second phrase is taken by
the flutes, clarinets, and bassoons and begins with four stepwise
rising notes, all harmonized.
0:16 [m. 9]--The completion of
the phrase is again disrupted by the low
strings, who begin their third statement, which turns to B minor.
The horns and bassoons respond in E minor, in an phrase similar to the
first one. The fourth low string motive leads again to the
flutes, clarinets, and bassoons, who now begin with a three-note
descent that turns back up one note before heading down again.
This phrase is in the “dominant” key of A major.
0:31 [m. 17]--This time, the
low strings do not begin a new statement
on the last bar of the phrase. Instead, the first violins and
violas make their first entrance, coming in surreptitiously on the last
beat of the bar. They and the low strings hold their note.
The last two bars of the high wind phrase, which have turned back
upward in an arpeggio, are repeated. The violins and violas leap
an octave on the last beat.
0:36 [m. 20]--At this point,
all three strands come together
metrically. The violins and violas hold their note over the bar,
then seem to begin the turning four-note motive with which the low
strings opened the movement. At the same time, the higher winds
(except oboes, who have not yet played), play chords, no longer out of
phase by a bar. The cellos and basses re-articulate their low
note at the same time. The violins and violas, after playing the
first three notes of the motive, wind their way downward with arpeggios
and octave leaps.
0:43 [m. 24]--The winds and low
strings drop out, and the violins and
violas continue to meander downward, seemingly aimlessly. After
two bars, the middle range is reached and the cellos take over for the
violas, who drop out. The “dominant” chord (A major) is outlined
in these meandering leaps until new pitches are introduced in the last
two bars. The volume diminishes to almost nothing, and the
strings, having led nowhere, simply stop after outlining an unstable
0:57 [m. 32]--After the strings
fade away, there is a soft timpani
roll. Then follows the surprising and strikingly dark entry of
trombones and tuba (doubled by cellos) on solemn chords. On the
third of these, the flute and oboe (the latter making its first entry)
play the first three notes of the opening turn motive. A second
sequence of these elements--drum roll, low brass chords, and three-note
wind motive (now played by clarinet and bassoon)--follows immediately.
1:12 [m. 40]--For the third
sequence of the “dark” music, the timpani
roll is replaced by a single tap aided by plucked string basses.
The low brass chords enter as before, but the winds (now oboe and
bassoon) come in a bar early on their three-note motive. This is
because the notes are stretched out and doubled in length, the second
held over a bar line. These three notes, beginning with the
“dominant” note A, finally add the fourth, which is a strong arrival on
the main keynote D as the following theme begins.
1:21 [m. 44]--Transition
theme. With the arrival on D, a new and
radiant theme emerges out of the darkness. It uses elements
already heard, such as the turning motive, the outline of the D-major
chord, and the four stepwise notes, which now descend. Despite
this deft construction, the theme has a natural and graceful
flow. Because it is in D major, it seems that it may be the main
theme and that what has preceded was introductory. The violins
play the melody, with an undulating accompaniment from violas and
1:28 [m. 48]--The graceful
melody’s second phrase is taken by the
flute, with a rising chromatic horn counterpoint that had already begun
at the end of the string statement. The violas and cellos
continue to undulate. The second flute, clarinets, and bassoons
begin to harmonize the melody after two bars. There, it turns
higher than had the first violin phrase.
1:34 [m. 52]--The violins begin
what sounds like a third phrase of the
melody. Quickly, however, other instrument groups begin to
imitate the beginning of the phrase at different levels, beginning with
the second violins (who make their first entrance here). Flute
and oboe enter next, followed by bassoons and low strings. Under
the flute/oboe entry, the violins, then the horns, begin to pulsate on
syncopated repetitions. The volume increases dramatically and it
is finally apparent that this is the transition. When the low
instruments begin their imitation, flute and oboe begin to pulsate and
the strings play powerful descending arpeggios. At this point,
the trumpets make their first entrance.
1:44 [m. 59]--On the last beat
of m. 58, the higher instruments come
together on a strong statement of the opening turn figure whose first
note is held over the bar line. The low strings begin an angular
accompaniment with octave leaps and plunging arpeggios. After the
four notes of the turn, the violins also play these angular figures as
the low strings take the four notes a step higher. This
alternation appears to begin again with the violins and flutes taking
the first three notes yet one level higher, but they then leap down and
back up, speeding the three notes up with powerful off-beat accents and
a cross rhythm supported by syncopated chords and octaves from the
other instruments. The music moves away from D major.
1:56 [m. 66]--Suddenly, the
bottom drops out of the powerful
music. Oboes and horns are isolated on detached and quietly
leaping figures. These are punctuated by shorter leaping figures
from the violins, as well as isolated interjections from flutes and
bassoons. After three alternations, the oboe and horn figures
join with the flutes and bassoons, and the leaping violins take over in
five consecutive bars. The harmony is very unstable, but it
strongly suggests the F-sharp minor in which the second theme group
2:10 [m. 76]--The violas and
cellos take the isolated interjections
with clarinets, bassoons, and horns. The leaping violin figures
are taken over by clarinet and flute. This only happens for two
bars, then the full string choir (without basses), breaks into a rising
and fully harmonized chromatic line with stretched out notes and
syncopations suggesting a 3/2 meter. The cellos descend by
half-steps as the violins ascend. These chromatic chords finally
arrive on F-sharp minor as Theme 2 begins.
2:22 [m. 82]--Theme 2.
F-sharp minor is not the expected key for
Theme 2. It is the related minor key to A major, which would be
the expected key. The exposition will, however, actually end in A
major. The theme itself is a broad and melancholy lullaby played
by cellos and violas in harmonious thirds and sixths. The cellos
actually play above the violas here. The violins accompany with
the leaping figures (including octave leaps) just heard at the end of
the transition, while the basses play two plucked repeated notes at the
beginning of each bar. The winds drop out for this first
statement of the theme.
2:36 [m. 90]--The lullaby theme
pauses on a dissonance. The
violins play a sweeping figure that first moves up by three steps, then
falls rapidly downward on an arpeggio. The dissonance and
sweeping figure are repeated. Horns, bassoons, and timpani make
discreet entrances, the timpani and horns now alternating with the
basses on the punctuating groups of two repeated notes.
2:42 [m. 94]--The violas and
cellos begin a long closing phrase to the
lullaby theme. The basses abandon the plucked repeated notes and
join in harmony while the violins play a lightly syncopated line.
Bassoons and flutes are also present. The music has moved again
toward D major. The cellos close with a faster sweeping line,
always remaining above the violas. The end of the cello line is
questioning, and the clarinets respond with a rising arpeggio.
The violins follow with another that firmly moves back to F-sharp minor.
2:57 [m. 102]--The winds
(flutes, oboes, and bassoons) now take the
lullaby theme in F-sharp minor. The string basses again play the
punctuating plucked notes in groups of two, as they had before.
The other strings provide a harmonic background. After four bars,
the violins take over the theme.
3:07 [m. 108]--Suddenly, the
lullaby theme is diverted into a
transition and buildup. The winds enter again. Winds (in
thirds), then violins (in unison), then winds again play two rising
gestures of the theme in three statements. Violas and cellos join
the basses on the plucked repetitions, creating full chords. The
violins and winds both hold long notes after the rising gestures.
Finally, the gestures are passed to the violas and bassoons, who speed
them up, creating syncopation as the harmony slides down to F.
The repeated notes are passed to the timpani, and the volume rapidly
builds. Finally, all instruments, including the violas and
bassoons, moving faster still, join on a huge hemiola, or implied 3/2 bar, the
timpani playing on each beat.
3:24 [m. 118]--Closing
Section. A large arrival comes as the bass
slips down to E, a preparation for the A major in which the exposition
should and will end. The strings play huge upward leaps in dotted
rhythm followed by strong syncopations and more dotted rhythm, creating
a march-like music. There is a strong arrival on A major, and
then the huge leaps are heard again, reaching higher and followed by
more syncopations. Winds and brass punctuate these with long
chords. Then an even stronger cadence on A, punctuated by
trumpets, confirms that this key is the goal.
3:39 [m. 127]--At the cadence,
the strings begin to play a churning
long-short-short rhythm. This is followed by more soaring lines
in the violins and more syncopation. The horns and trumpets join
on the long-short-short figures, and they punctuate a loud, strong
syncopation on the last beat of a bar [m. 134]. Clarinets, horns,
and violas begin to play a pulsating syncopation on the
long-short-short rhythm, tying the second short note to the long note,
holding over the musical beats. The other instruments hold the
3:55 [m. 136]--The music is
still agitated, but quiets somewhat.
With the meter already obscured by the syncopation and the established
pulsation in clarinets, horns, and violas, the low strings and bassoons
begin to play fragments of the main portion of Theme 1 that begin on
the second beat of the bar. These four-note figures are then
imitated by the violins, and no instruments strongly articulate the
downbeat. The second beats of the bars begin to sound like the
downbeats. There are also shorter three-note groups without a
long note. The pulsations continue, flutes and oboes enter on a
long chord, and there is a slow, steady buildup.
The harmony is unstable, hovering on the “dominant” chords of A major
and D major.
4:12 [m. 148]--The low strings
and violins come together, and the
flutes and oboes take the imitating line. The harmony moves
beyond A major to the “dominant” chord of E major. With the meter
still obscured, the trumpets enter on the syncopated pulsations, and as
the music reaches a high point the pulsation is suddenly cut off.
The strings play a powerful descent, supported by the brass, that
begins on the second beat of a bar, and the sense of the true downbeat
is still not restored, although E major does slide back to A.
4:24 [m. 156]--The music is
suddenly quiet, and, holding the last beat
of a bar into the downbeat, the lullaby of Theme 2 arrives to finally
restore the true sense of meter. It is played by second violins
and violas, with the violas on top. They are accompanied by
plucked notes in the low strings, short interjections from horns and
clarinets, and most importantly, a flowing line in triplets from the
flute. This A-major version of the theme takes a new turn in its
second phrase, and winds down with a bassoon descent in sixths.
4:38 [m. 164]--The flutes and
oboes now play the lullaby theme, with
both oboes largely doubling both flutes. The flowing triplet line
moves to the first violins. The other strings play pulsations
above the plucked basses. The instruments seem to stall on the
theme, then the flutes and violins begin to fragment it as the oboes
drop out. A descending line under a cadence gesture is heard
first in flutes and violins, then oboes and bassoons, and finally
violins and cellos, the entries dovetailing with each other, quieting
5:06 [m. 179, first ending]--The
A-major cadence leads into the
first ending, a transition back to the beginning for the exposition
repeat. The cadence is reiterated in the strings, and the
descending lines are heard first from the bassoon, then flute and oboe,
then low strings under soft violin and viola chords. This low
string descent becomes syncopated, and starts to undulate on the
opening half-step of the initial motive.
5:20 [m. 186, first ending,
replacing m. 1]--Theme 1. The
last bar of the first ending doubles as the first bar of the exposition
repeat, and its notes, held over from the previous bar, are the
beginning of the first low string motive. The repetition thus
begins with the second bar, altered only with the addition of notes for
the upper strings to close their long lines on a downbeat. Then a
continuation as at the beginning.
5:28 [m. 5]--Second statement
of four-note motive and second phrase
from upper winds, as at 0:08.
5:35 [m. 9]--Third and fourth
statements turning to B minor, E minor,
and A major, as at 0:16.
5:50 [m. 17]--Entry of violins
and violas and repetition of the end of
the last phrase, as at 0:31.
5:55 [m. 20]--Strands come
together. Violins and violas begin to
wind downward, as at 0:36.
6:02 [m. 24]--Violins and
violas meander downward, diminish, and stop,
as at 0:43.
6:16 [m. 32]--Timpani rolls,
solemn trombone and tuba chords, and
three-note wind motive, as at 0:57.
6:31 [m. 40]--Drum tap and
brass chords with lengthened wind motive and
arrival on D, as at 1:12.
6:40 [m. 44]--Transition theme
from violins in D major, as at 1:21.
6:47 [m. 48]--Transition theme
played by flute with horn counterpoint,
as at 1:28.
6:53 [m. 52]--Imitation on
transition melody, syncopated pulsations,
and buildup, as at 1:34.
7:03 [m. 59]--Statements of
opening turn figure, angular accompaniment,
and cross rhythms, as at 1:44.
7:14 [m. 66]--Quietly leaping,
detached figures and short violin leaps,
as at 1:56.
7:29 [m. 76]--Winds take violin
leaps, then chromatic string chords and
arrival on F-sharp minor, as at 2:10.
7:41 [m. 82]--Theme 2.
Low string lullaby in F-sharp minor, as at
7:54 [m. 90]--Pause on
dissonance, sweeping violin line, and timpani
alternating with basses, as at 2:36.
8:01 [m. 94]--Closing phrase to
lullaby and bridging arpeggios, as at
8:17 [m. 102]--Winds, then
violins take up lullaby theme, as at 2:57.
8:27 [m. 108]--Transition and
buildup on lullaby theme, leading to hemiola,
8:43 [m. 118]--Closing
section. Upward leaps, syncopations, and
march-like music, as at 3:24.
8:59 [m. 127]--Churning
long-short-short rhythm in A major and pulsing
syncopations, as at 3:39.
9:15 [m. 136]--Imitation on
fragments of Theme 1 with pulsations and
highly obscured meter, as at 3:55.
9:32 [m. 148]--Strings come
together, wind imitation, and powerful
descent, as at 4:12.
9:43 [m. 156]--Restoration of
meter and decorated major-key statement
of Theme 2 lullaby, as at 4:24.
9:57 [m. 164]-Wind statement of lullaby, fragmentation, descending
lines, and cadences, as at 4:38.
10:24 [m. 179, second ending]--Some
remain from the first
ending, such the reiterated cadences and the return to the opening
motive on the original pitches. The descending lines, however,
are all now in the strings, and they are transposed so that they more
firmly confirm A major rather than facilitating a motion back to D
major for the repeat. After four bars, there is a highly colorful
shift to a new key, F major, using the fourth note of the motive (the
downward leap to A in the bass) as a common note. A horn begins a
statement of Theme 1 in this key, over rising arpeggios from cellos and
10:40 [m. 187]--The oboe and
second violins play a harmonized
continuation of the upward-turning figure from the theme’s main phrase,
moving to D minor. The arpeggios continue in violas, bassoon, and
10:47 [m. 191]--The low strings
having played the opening motive in the
previous measure, the flutes begin a new statement of the Theme 1
melody with yet another harmonic shift, to B-flat major. The
rising arpeggios and harmonic background continue in the strings.
10:54 [m. 195]--The
continuation from 10:40 [m. 187] is played, this
time without the harmony, by oboe, clarinet, and bassoon in unison and
in G minor (related to B-flat). There begins a strong buildup in
tension and volume. The string arpeggios emerge into an agitated
figure with rests and repeated notes. The cellos and basses
imitate the “continuation” in G minor under this. Dovetailing
with them, the flute, oboe, and horn begin another statement, this time
in C minor. This is also immediately imitated by the low strings,
who are briefly isolated for one bar before they complete it.
11:08 [m. 204]--The volume has
now reached a strong level, and a long
passage of counterpoint begins that is based on the four stepwise
rising notes (the third element of Theme 1). It starts in C
minor, with the first violins taking the lead. The violas play a
faster leaping, detached counterpoint, and the clarinets enter with
another angular upward-leaping idea. Second violins, then winds
play strong syncopation across bar lines.
11:15 [m. 208]--The second
violins and violas play another statement of
the stepwise rising notes in G minor with the faster counterpoint
moving to the first violins. The clarinets play their angular
idea again, and the strong syncopations are also heard, the violas
taking over for the second violins.
11:21 [m. 212]--The leaping
idea heard in the clarinets now takes the
foreground and is turned upside down, working downward. The first
violins play this version, dovetailing with the original ascending
version in flutes and oboes. The stepwise rising notes are taken
by low strings and bassoons in shorter statements, continuing to move
up by fifths to D minor. The faster counterpoint continues in
second violins and violas.
11:27 [m. 216]--The climactic
statement of the counterpoint begins up
yet another fifth, in A minor. The first violins play the leading
stepwise rising notes. The faster counterpoint is in all the
lower strings and bassoons. The leaping idea is in the second
violins (in the descending version) and the high winds (in the
ascending version). The strong syncopations begin again, now with
the trombones joining the horns and winds, and the statement is
extended to double length by these syncopations, which continue and
build to an intense climax as the faster counterpoint moves to the
violins. The extension moves to A major.
11:38 [m. 224]--At the climax,
the passage of counterpoint breaks, and
the strings play a powerful arpeggio in E minor. At the same
time, the trombones blast out the opening turn motive, the three of
them playing in succession and overlapping. Flutes and horns take
it up from the trombones, filled with tension. The strings begin
to play tremolo chords as the
opening motive is further passed among the winds and brass, now in B
minor. The strings then break into the same arpeggio before
leaving the winds alone for two bars.
11:53 [m. 233]--The strings
enter strongly, again with the tremolo.
bassoons, they slide upward, making a strong arrival on B major.
The music then breaks into faster versions of the opening motive, which
creates a cross rhythm and an implied 6/8 meter. The wind chords
support this cross rhythm. A string bridge leads to the same
faster versions and cross rhythms that suggest E minor but actually
move to C minor/major. A longer and strong string bridge emerges
into the strongest developmental climax yet.
12:14 [m. 246]--This arrival is
marked by a timpani roll. The
faster versions of the opening motive persist in the strings, and above
them, the winds and brass (including tuba) begin to blast out the
opening rising figure of Theme 1 itself in G major. They then
speed up the first of these notes and create more cross rhythms
that support the string motion. All of this emerges into
material from the “melodic” transition theme in G minor, played by all
high winds except oboe over a softer string tremolo and trombone chord.
12:28 [m. 254]--The oboe,
having rested in the previous passage, now
plays a new melody derived from the opening motive in G
minor. The strings play isolated arpeggios, and the timpanist
plays the typical two-beat repeated-note groups at the beginning of
each bar. This passage is much quieter. Then, suddenly,
the fast version of the motive appears in the strings in B-flat
major. The same timpani roll and short rising figures from Theme
1 appear as heard at 12:14 [m. 246], blasted out from winds and brass.
12:42 [m. 262]--The material
from the transition theme is played by the
strings, with tremolo in
second violins and violas. A shift in harmony that did not occur
after 12:14 [m. 246] moves the music to D minor, and thus briefly back
to the home key center. The patterns and fragmentation of the
transition theme material are the same, but the music quiets
greatly. The new melody from 12:28 [m. 254] is then played by
flute and oboe in D minor above the same isolated arpeggios and timpani
beats, but at a much softer level.
12:56 [m. 270]--The transition
theme material is heard again, now from
clarinet and bassoon. It is supported by a trombone chord and
string tremolo as it was on
the two previous appearances, but now a quiet timpani roll is added and
the whole volume level is much softer. It is now in F-sharp
13:04 [m. 274]--The new melody
derived from the opening motive is
played in F-sharp minor, now by the violins, still with string
arpeggios and timpani beats. This time, the melody is expanded by
repeating it in the “expected” instruments, flute and oboe. Here,
it is again in D, but now in a major/minor mixture. The
repetition builds strongly, the timpani beats speeding up to groups of
13:18 [m. 282]--The short
rising figures from Theme 1 are blasted
again, as at 12:14 [m. 246], but now the strings lead, along with the
trombones. The key is ambiguous, hovering between F major and D
minor. The faster version of the opening motive is not here now,
but the cross rhythms remain, supported by syncopated chords in the
winds and brass (except trombones). The timpani roll
thunders. This passage is also extended to twice its previous
length. Halfway through, F shifts up to F-sharp, and the
ambiguity is now between D major and F-sharp minor.
13:32 [m. 290]--Re-transition.
home key is reached slightly
“early.” At a hushed level, the violins play the opening motive
in tremolo, but it is
stretched out to double its length, creating a metric ambiguity and an
implied 3/2 bar over two 3/4 bars. Above this, the horns seem to
want to begin the main melody of Theme 1, but stall at the
opening. Flutes and oboes play long chords. There is then a
buildup as the transition theme is heard, also in tremolo. The low strings and
a trombone play the opening motive underneath it, also in the
“stretched-out version.” The continuing horn and wind chords
support the stretched-out motive.
13:39 [m. 294]--The transition
theme is heard twice more at different
levels, first in B minor from the winds over string tremolos, long brass chords, and an
timpani roll that now begins. The second (third) statement is in
G major from the tremolo
strings under a long held chord from brass and winds as the drum roll
continues. A chromatic bass line undermines the harmonic motion
and keeps the music somewhat anchored to D major. Both B minor
and G major are very closely related keys.
13:47 [m. 298]--Finally, the
upper strings and oboes drop out, the drum
roll ends, and the flute and clarinet begin the downward scale, tinged
with the minor key, leading into the recapitulation. Under this
scale, the trombones play an even longer version of the opening motive,
stretched out over four bars. Although the trombone motive is at
the original pitch level, the harmony supporting this final lead-in is
not the expected “dominant” harmony, but on a dissonant chord that
would be expected to lead into
the preparatory chord.
13:54 [m. 302]--Theme 1.
The arrival of the theme is much
altered. The opening motive was already provided by the
trombones. The D-major harmony is here somewhat undermined by the
previous dissonant chord. Oboes play the principal melody, the
horns now providing only support. Unexpectedly, the transition
melody, which seemed more “theme-like” than the theme, is heard below
in the violas, with the violins providing supporting arpeggios.
This is the first time the two themes have been heard together.
14:01 [m. 306]--The theme
continues, with the first violins providing a
decoration to the second phrase (heard in second violins and violas)
that contains half-steps and other chromatic notes. The opening
motive has been restored to its original function, entering in the low
strings a bar before each phrase. The winds briefly drop
out. The harmonies and structures correspond now to the
14:08 [m. 310]--The theme
continues, with the oboes and horns again
taking over, passing the next response to flutes and bassoons.
The violins and violas decorate with arching arpeggios and the
transition melody under the oboe/horn entry, then the violas continue
with a winding chromatic line under the flute/bassoon response.
The opening motive continues to enter in its expected positions.
The last two bars are reiterated, with clarinets replacing flutes and
the viola line passed up to the second violins. The repetition
corresponds to 0:31 and 5:50 [m. 17], but the horns replace the violins
on the long note beginning with an upbeat.
14:25 [m. 320]--A rescored
version of the passage from 0:36 and 5:55
[m. 20]. The flute and oboe begin the downward winding motion,
and the clarinets take over after four bars. Bassoons, horns, and
lower strings hold long notes, and the first violins add a new
decorative line. This decorative line is hesitant at first, with
yearning half-steps, but it becomes more flowing under the clarinets,
plunging downward. The harmonies under the clarinet line were not
present in the bare version at 0:43 and 6:02 [m. 24].
14:38 [m. 327]--In an extension
to the pattern of the exposition, the
previous passage is heard in a harmonic shift a step higher, moving
from the “dominant” chord, A major, to B-flat. The first bar
doubles as the last of the previous phrase, the clarinets completing
their line as the flute and oboe enter “early,” but the shift to B-flat
(as an implied “subdominant” chord of F major) happens as the flute and
oboe begin their line, which is again taken over by clarinets after
four bars with the same decorative line in the violins.
14:52 [m. 335]--Continuing the
sequence, the whole pattern shifts up
again, to the chord of B major, and the same devices are used for the
shift. This time, however, the flute and oboe make a quick
alteration to B minor, and the statement is cut off before the
clarinets have a chance to take over.
15:01 [m. 340]--The violins,
now joined by cellos, are left alone as
the other instruments drop out. They meander on arpeggios, first
on B minor, then on dissonant diminished harmonies, then on G
minor. The four-note arpeggios cross bar lines and somewhat
undermine the 3/4 meter. Above these quiet and mysterious
arpeggios, two drum rolls are heard, the first after two bars and the
second two bars later. It is not immediately apparent that these
drum rolls correspond to 0:57 and 6:15 [m. 32] because they are
isolated and lack the three-bar low brass responses.
15:12 [m. 346]--The arpeggios
end, and a third drum roll is heard in
isolation. It is finally given the low brass response, with the
more mellow horns now joining the trombones and tuba. This brass
response corresponds to 1:12 and 6:31 [m. 40], but the goal is not an
arrival on the home key of D major, rather on B minor, the related key
where the string arpeggios had hovered. Theme 2 will immediately
follow. The “melodic” transition material is completely skipped
here, having been given attention in the development section and having
been heard as a counterpoint to Theme 1 at the beginning of the
15:21 [m. 350]--Theme 2, as at
2:22 and 7:41 [m. 82], now in B
minor. It is important to note that the B minor--D major
relationship is the same as the F-sharp minor--A major relationship
from the exposition. In other words, the recapitulation will end
in the home key, as it should, and the use of B minor here already
confirms that. The scoring of the theme itself is as in the
exposition, with the cellos above the violas and the basses playing the
plucked repetitions. The accompanying figures are new,
however. The violins pass descending arpeggios to flutes and
clarinets and back. These have mild syncopation that becomes
15:35 [m. 358]--Pause on
dissonance and sweeping violin line, as at
2:36 and 7:54 [m. 90]. The timpani do not play here as they did
in the exposition, and the basses alternate with two horns playing in
15:43 [m. 362]--Closing phrase
to lullaby theme, as at 2:42 and 8:01
[m. 94]. There is more rescoring. Most importantly, the
violas and cellos are reversed, the violas now moving above the cellos
and taking the top line. The clarinets have a new role, playing
material previously taken by second violins. An oboe takes some
previous flute material. The first violins drop out much earlier,
abandoning their syncopated repetitions. The “bridging” arpeggios
are both played by violins. Harmonic motion is toward G major.
15:59 [m. 370]--The winds take
over the lullaby, as at 2:57 and 8:17
[m. 102]. This time, clarinets participate and flutes do
not. The violins follow the winds, as before.
16:09 [m. 376]--Transition and
buildup to hemiola, as at
3:07 and 8:27 [m.
108]. This is largely as in the exposition except for the added
participation of clarinets, who join the violas and bassoons on the
faster rising, syncopated gestures. The timpani, which had been
unexpectedly absent in Theme 2 here thus far, enter as expected at the
end of the buildup. The harmony drops down to B-flat.
16:27 [m. 386]--Closing
section. Upward leaps, syncopations, and
march-like music, as at 3:24 and 8:43 [m. 118]. Here the bass
drops down to A in preparation for large cadences on the home key, D
major. The horns and trumpets are given a larger role at the
strong cadence leading into the “churning” music.
16:43 [m. 395]--Churning
long-short-short rhythm in D major,
corresponding to 3:39 and 8:59 [m. 127]. There is a
significant change at the loud chord leading into the pulsating
syncopations. This time, a timpani roll is included, and the
trumpets and horns punctuate the following downbeat while all other
instruments hold over it, helping to create slightly less metric
ambiguity than in the exposition.
16:59 [m. 404]--Imitation on
fragments of Theme 1 with pulsations and
highly obscured meter, as at 3:55 and 9:15 [m. 136]. This section
is largely scored as in the exposition, with some slight differences in
the trumpets. The harmonies are on the “dominant” chords of D
major and G major.
17:17 [m. 416]--Strings come
together, wind imitation, and powerful
descent, as at 4:12 and 9:32 [m. 148]. The harmony moves to the
“dominant” chord of A major and slides back to D major.
17:28 [m. 424]--Restoration of
meter and decorated major-key statement
of Theme 2 lullaby, as at 4:24 and 9:43 [m. 156]. This time, the
winds (flutes, clarinets, and oboes) have the first statement of the
melody. The violas now play the flowing triplet line, and the
violins join the plucked notes with the low strings. The oboes
join the bassoons on the descent in sixths.
17:42 [m. 432]--This
corresponds to 4:38 and 9:57 [m. 164], but the
scoring is reversed. The flowing triplet line moves to the flute,
where it was at first in the exposition. The lullaby theme is
played by violas and cellos, its original instruments, with the cellos
on top. After the theme “stalls,” the descending lines are heard
first in oboe and bassoon, then clarinet and cellos, and finally violas
and cellos leading into the coda.
18:10 [m. 447]--The coda opens
with the first two notes of Theme 1’s
melody passed among the wind instruments, notably flute and oboe, and
even the trumpet participates. The trombones play a solemn chord
over a timpani roll, and the strings play a tremolo on a dissonant
chord. The dissonant chord resolves into the “dominant” chord,
and the inverted version of the opening motive as heard in the melody
begins to take over. This happens after a swelling and
receding. The figure lingers in clarinets, bassoons, and
18:28 [m. 455]--A solo horn is
now isolated on the “inverted” version
of the opening motive. It begins a sort of reverie on the figure
over a string background based on the transition melody, but this
gradually intensifies in volume, tempo, and chromatic notes. The
strings become more active and syncopated. Finally, the horn
isolates the last two notes of the motive, leaving rests on the last
18:56 [m. 469]--The horn
reaches its climax, and with the strings, it
slows back down and diminishes, holding some long notes over bar lines
to somewhat obscure the underlying pulse. Horn and strings settle
toward a cadence in D major that merges into the following variation of
19:18 [m. 477]--A variation of
Theme 1 begins that includes the opening
motive in the low strings. The melody itself, however, adds an
initial long note that is heard above the opening motive. Second
violins and violas play pulsating syncopations. Horns join the
harmony after five bars. The opening motive is heard three times
in succession before the entry of the horns. Brahms marks “in
tempo, ma più tranquillo.”
19:37 [m. 485]--A cadence is
interrupted by another, highly decorated
version of the Theme 1 material. The opening motive is now heard
four times. The horns join the middle strings in the pulsing
syncopations. The first violins embellish the theme with gentle
half-steps, and there is a slight buildup and some harmonization.
The winds join after the fourth statement of the opening motive.
They extend the embellished theme and slow it down to an oscillation,
the strings moving to a slower, syncopated line. The music
settles down to a half-cadence.
20:03 [m. 497]--In a brilliant
move, Brahms brings back an element that
has not been used since the exposition. It is the quietly leaping
detached music from 1:56 and 7:14 [m. 66]. Brahms marks it “in
tempo, sempre tranquillo.” The oboe takes the lead, as expected,
but it is supported by all other woodwinds. The shorter leaping
figures formerly played by violins are taken by horn and bassoon, who
dovetail. The trumpet plays punctuating thirds, and the low
strings have a steady plucking.
20:11 [m. 501]--The strings are
isolated for a bar. The low
strings continue their plucking as the violins and violas make an entry
with plucked chords off the beats. Against this rocking pulse of
plucked strings, flute and oboe enter with an entirely new idea.
It is a melodic figure taken from a contemporary song, “Es liebt sich
so lieblich im Lenze” (Op. 71, No. 1). There is surely some
“spring” symbolism in the quotation.
20:18 [m. 505]--Another
statement of the “quietly leaping” music
begins, this time only in bassoons and horns. The strings
continue the rocking plucked pulse, with the violins and violas off the
beats. The shorter figures with octave leaps are played by oboe,
flutes, and clarinet, with some dovetailing.
20:25 [m. 509]--After the
four-bar statement, the rocking motion
continues, with the violins playing fuller chords, still plucked, off
the beat. The winds join this off-beat motion, and the melodic
outline seems derived from the song quotation. There is one last
buildup, and at the top of this, the chords in both winds and plucked
strings become colorful and slightly dissonant. The volume then
quickly recedes again.
20:33 [m. 513]--The horns and
trumpets play some final statements of
the beginning gesture from Theme 1. Under these, the punctuating
string and wind motion becomes less steady, with full rests inserted on
alternating downbeat/upbeat groups. The low strings still pluck
on the beats, while the winds, soon reduced to flutes and clarinets,
play off the beat with plucked violins and violas. Finally, the
horns and trumpets settle on a unison note (the “dominant” note, A),
the woodwinds drop out, and the strings continue to pluck. The
string gestures become more isolated and are finally reduced to only
the first beats for four bars.
20:48 [m. 521]--The last chord
is played by all winds and brass,
including trombones and tuba, and is supported by a soft timpani
roll. The strings, who all pluck softly as the chord begins, add
one more plucked punctuation to cut off the chord after it is held for
21:02--END OF MOVEMENT [523 mm.]
Adagio non troppo (Sonata form with modified recapitulation). B
MAJOR, 4/4 and 12/8 time.
0:00 [m. 1]--Theme 1. The
first statement of the theme is presented in its entirety by the
cellos. At the outset, the tone is dark and nebulous. The
theme begins on an upbeat, and the emphasis on weak beats in the first
two descending lines obscures the meter. The bassoons play an
ascending counterpoint, and the presence of the tuba increases the
heavy nature of the opening, supported by horns, violas, and basses.
0:12 [m. 3]--The continuation
of the theme in the cellos restores a strong sense of the meter on the
downbeat after an upbeat rising fourth. The trombones enter here,
but quickly drop out. Higher winds now provide supporting
harmonies. The theme itself winds downward, then breaks into two
hesitant rising gestures on broken chords.
0:32 [m. 6]--The cello theme
avoids a strong cadence and continues with more descending lines that
again obscure the meter. Two emphasized rising leaps lead into
the three closing gestures, descending lines rounded by leaping dotted
rhythms. These lead not to a B-major cadence, but instead to D
major. The winds consistently provide punctuating harmonies on
weak beats until the more emphatic closing gestures.
1:09 [m. 13]--A second
statement of the theme begins with the full orchestra. The melody
is played by violins and flute. The cellos initially take the
rising counterpoint first played by the bassoons. Horns provide a
syncopated background. Trombones and tuba, and now even trumpets
join at the upbeat rising fourth before the third bar. The theme
continues essentially unaltered except for the fuller scoring for four
bars, through the first of the “hesitant rising gestures.”
1:36 [m. 17]--The theme cuts
off and seems at first to be approaching a long-eluded B-major cadence,
but then a single horn is isolated on a leaping figure beginning with a
rising fourth (an important motive first heard before m. 3). A
very brief passage of imitation, or fugato,
on this figure. The oboes follow the horn, who continues
with a syncopated counterpoint (joined by bassoon). The flutes
enter next, the oboes also continuing with a new line. Finally,
the low strings enter on the leaping figure as the wind instruments
continue their lines. The entire passage moves to the “dominant”
key of F-sharp major.
2:23 [m. 28]--The fugato passage, having slightly
built and receded, melts away into the material of the theme. It
is the passage beginning with the rising fourth (from 0:12 [m. 3]), now
played by cellos and violas, with the trombones and tuba in the
background again. Other winds and the violins join as this melody
suddenly and strongly builds to the movement’s first climax. At
the top, the violins lead back downward, with more rapidly ascending
cellos and violas, the music receding toward the arrival on Theme 2 in
2:52 [m. 33]--Theme 2.
Like Theme 1, it begins on an upbeat, and after that upbeat, the meter
changes to the more lilting 12/8. Brahms indicates “L’istesso
tempo, ma grazioso,” meaning that the speed should remain the same, the
12/8 bars being divided into four beats of three parts. The tune
is indeed graceful, but halting, again because of emphasis on weak
beats. Flutes and oboes present the main material, supported by
clarinets, bassoons, and plucked cellos. The clarinets in
harmonious thirds take over in the third bar (F-sharp major).
3:13 [m. 37]--The violins join
with a more chromatic line. The winds play shorter figures.
Finally, the cellos stop the isolated plucked notes and join the upper
strings in bowed harmonies. The violins briefly break for a short
alternation with winds and horns, after which the violins drop a full
octave in pitch.
3:35 [m. 41]--All strings move
to isolated plucked notes as the flutes and oboes begin another
statement. This statement rapidly builds to another unexpected
large climax, the strings bursting into a soaring bowed line.
This climax recedes as quickly as it built up, breaking into four
detached and increasingly quiet chords with off-beat horn punctuations.
3:59 [m. 45]--Closing
Theme. The melody, in F-sharp major, is the most expressive and
straightforward thus far. Its main characteristic is a stepwise
ascent of a fourth (filling in the previous rising fourth). The
meter is obscured, as it begins on the second beat of the bar and
includes much syncopation in its oscillating line. The strings
alone play it at first, in rich harmonies. After two bars, the
winds join, and there is a third sudden, dramatic buildup, this one
more surprising than the first two. It shifts seamlessly away
from F-sharp major toward B minor. Approaching the top, the
trumpets enter on octaves. This buildup and abbreviated closing
theme merge directly into the development section.
4:20 [m. 49]--The closing theme
melody generates a stormy fugato.
begins in B minor. The low strings play an embellishment of
the rising fourth that includes notes held over between beats and some
faster motion. Entering directly after them, flute, oboe, and
horn play the closing theme in a form similar to its original
structure. The fugato
entrances are punctuated by the trombones, tuba, and timpani.
4:31 [m. 51]--The wind
statement of the “original” closing theme merges with the entrance of
the violins, who begin another statement of the “embellished” version,
now in G minor. One beat later, the low strings restart, this
time playing the “original” version, also in G minor.
4:43 [m. 53]--A sudden
diversion to A minor begins a harmonically active passage. The
low strings alternate with the high winds and violins, each entry
moving up by a fifth, ending up on C-sharp. The entries are now
all on the “embellished” version. Against this, the second
violins play ominous tremolo
repeated notes. The instruments all build toward a plunging
arpeggio on C-sharp minor.
4:54 [m. 55]--The motion is
suddenly arrested by a dissonant “diminished” chord. The strings
all move to a hushed tremolo.
this, the winds play the rising figure from the closing theme
and the preceding fugato, but
it is shortened to three notes, the third one held over the beat.
The winds pass this three-note figure between each other, all except
oboes playing it with a harmonization in thirds. While this is
going on, a trombone, tuba, and bassoon play slow three-note gestures
that resemble the opening figure from the first movement, first in inversion,
then (in the tuba) in its original shape.
5:09 [m. 57]--From this point,
the meter is a mixture of 4/4 and 12/8, some instruments continuing the
12/8 triplet motion, others moving back to the straight 4/4
rhythm. In what sounds like a recapitulation, the main theme
emerges in the violins, but it begins on the wrong beat (the second),
and is in the wrong key (G major). The original ascending bassoon
counterpoint is present, but now it is coupled with the three-note
figure just introduced, with the third note held over the beat.
This is played by flute and oboe in 12/8.
5:19 [m. 59]--A sudden buildup
to another cascading arpeggio (this time on a diminished seventh chord)
leads to another passage of hushed tremolo,
three-note figures in the winds held over the beats, and slow
three-note gestures in trombone and tuba, similar to 4:54 [m. 55].
5:40 [m. 62]--Yet another
“false start” of the main theme on the second beat, now in E
major. The oboe plays the theme, the violins the rising
counterpoint usually associated with bassoons, and the bassoons the
three-note gestures in triplets with the third notes held over the
beats. This statement is extended by a bar of transition leading
back home to B major. In this bar, a slow descent is passed from
strings to winds.
5:59 [m. 65]--Re-transition.
major has arrived, but this apparent statement of the main theme
breaks off to settle to the actual arrival point. It is still a
“false start,” as it begins on the second beat. The theme is
heard in flute, oboe, and horn, the rising counterpoint in violas and
cellos, and the rising triplets figures held over beats in the
violins. These rising triplets lose their held notes in the last
bar, leading smoothly into the actual recapitulation. The entire
passage from m. 65 is heard over a soft timpani roll.
6:14 [m. 68]--Theme 1. It
begins where it should, on the fourth beat, but after three false
starts, one in the home key, Brahms thwarts expectations on the actual
return by presenting it in an embellished form in triplet rhythm (the
12/8--4/4 mixture still being in force). It is played by the
first violins The rising counterpoint is heard on its original
instrument, the bassoon, and the three-note gestures are dispensed with
since the triplet rhythm is now heard in the theme itself. The
other strings accompany with light plucking over held pedal notes in
the string basses.
6:24 [m. 70]--In the passage
analogous to 0:12 [m. 3], the rising fourth restores the sense of
meter. The trombones and tuba enter on cue, just as they had in
the exposition. In an apparent paradox to the stable meter, the
violin line in triplets has strong syncopation, with notes held over
beats. The “hesitant rising gestures” are heard in their expected
place, but now in the prevailing triplet rhythm. They are passed
between the strings, bassoons, and horns in full harmony.
Unexpectedly, these gestures make a harmonic diversion to E major that
was not present in the exposition.
6:44 [m. 73]--The passage is
analogous to 0:32 [m. 6], but is in a new key, E major. The
violins play the descending lines, rising leaps, and closing gestures
in their original straight rhythm. The weak-beat harmonies are
replaced by ascending harmonized triplet arpeggios in violas and
cellos, which respond to descending arpeggios in the clarinets played
on the downbeats. Flutes and other winds enter at the closing
gestures. These closing gestures make the expected motion to G
(analogous to the D of the exposition), but at the end, they make a
striking digression to C major and then back to B in a small extension
7:23 [m. 81]--The second
statement of the theme is skipped, and the music moves directly to the
leaping horn figure from 1:36 [m. 17]. This time, the horn is
doubled by the flutes, and a descending scale line is played against it
by oboe, bassoon, and low strings. The figure is also shifted in
the meter by half a bar. The imitation happens as expected, but
it is in the cellos and basses, and is altered to a rising third
(instead of a fourth), cutting off any further imitation. Violins
and violas enter with off-beat descents that surge forward, rapidly
building while the low strings inevitably move to the pervasive triplet
(12/8) rhythm. Trumpets and horns enter fanfare-like on the
rising fourth at the top of this buildup.
7:52 [m. 87]--In an almost
shocking interruption, the fanfare launches into a passionate, stormy
passage in B minor that is based on the rising fourth and the music
from 0:12 [m. 3] and 6:24 [m. 70]. This interruption replaces
Theme 2, which is entirely absent. The violins surge forward at
double speed (groups of six notes to a beat), while the full brass
choir, with trumpets, trombones, and tuba, along with other winds,
plays slower chords with a solemn grandeur. This is the high
point of the entire movement. The violins begin to introduce
syncopation as the climax continues. It is cut off by two sharp
8:20 [m. 92]--Closing
Theme. Brahms marks an unambiguous 12/8 in all instruments for
the closing theme. It is given an introductory bar where the
violins follow the cellos, which struggle to shake off the minor
key. The stormy nature of the preceding music is harder to shake
off, and a surging timpani roll with horn octaves helps preserve the
intensity. The violins take over in the second bar, making a
clear statement of the closing theme melody in the home key of B
major. The winds join in. At the point where the theme
built up in the exposition, the direction is reversed with off-beat
leaping descents. The music recedes, and the rising three-note
gesture from the development section is heard in the bassoons and
8:53 [m. 97]--At the coda, the
meter returns to straight 4/4. After a pause, the strings quietly
give one last echo of their preceding descent. The coda returns
to Theme 1, played entirely by the winds. Flute and oboe present
the main tune, while the bassoons play their original rising
counterpoint. The horns, however, add a new pulsing under-beat in
the triplet rhythm that has been so inescapable.
9:07 [m. 100]--The strings take
over, giving the theme one last transformation to a darker, fragmented
version with minor-key hues. The violas play a line reminiscent
of the “closing gestures” while the cellos take over the rising
counterpoint. The timpani now have the triplets, thumping them as
the theme makes one last surge. At the very end, after the music
recedes, clarinets and bassoons join before the last chords. The
final chord is played by all instruments except trombones and tuba.
10:03--END OF MOVEMENT [104 mm.]
3rd Movement: Allegretto grazioso (Quasi Andantino)
(Combination of Rondo, Scherzo [with two trios] and Variation
form—ABA’B’A”). G MAJOR, 3/4, 2/4, and 3/8 time, with two
FIRST SECTION (A), 3/4
0:00 [m. 1]--First part (a). The minuet-like theme is
by an oboe with accompanying chords from clarinets and bassoons.
There is also a “walking” bass line in arpeggios presented by plucked
cellos. Characteristic of the theme are the lilting grace notes,
as well as the triplet-rhythm descents in the fourth and sixth
bars. After a normal eight-bar phrase, the closing two-note
descent is repeated an octave higher. It is then played again at
the original level. The music is basically quiet and gentle.
0:20 [m. 11]--Second part (b).
What sounds like another
repetition of the two-note descent in the higher octave is in fact the
beginning of the middle segment of this main “scherzo” section.
The oboe melody gains a harmony from the second oboe, largely in
sixths. A horn joins in the accompaniment. The “walking”
plucked cello line continues. The new melody makes a turn to D
0:28 [m. 15]--Halfway
through the new melody, the flutes enter,
and they, with the clarinets, take over the melody from the
oboes. One oboe begins to play a pulsating syncopation.
This second half is extended to twice the expected length. The
clarinets take over the melody entirely, and the extension serves to
transition back to the opening melody. The plucked cellos and a
horn playing in syncopation settle on a reiteration of the note D
(serving as the “dominant” to move back to G major) before a slight
0:46 [m. 23]--Third part (a’).
The main melody appears to resume,
but it is soon varied with alternations between major and minor
sounds. The triplet-rhythm descents are not heard, and the phrase
settles into slow “sighing” descents of a third. The “walking”
cello continues. The material is again passed from the oboes to
the flutes and clarinets. Despite the variation, this third part,
like the first, is also ten bars long.
SECOND SECTION (B), 2/4 time -
Presto ma non assai
1:07 [m. 33]--First part (a).
Although the meter is changed and
the tempo is much faster, the opening passage is almost exactly
analogous, both in harmony and melodic outline, to that of the first
section. Thus, this Presto
section is as much a variation as it
is a new section or “Trio.” The melody is presented by scurrying
strings in harmony with off-beat accents (the cellos now bowed), still
without the basses. At the repetition of the two-note descent
(which is embellished to a four-note figure) in the upper octave, the
material is passed to the winds. As in the first section, this
figure is then played again (by the strings) at the original level.
1:14 [m. 43]--In an extension
to the first part that marks the first
deviation from the structure of the “main” opening section, the
embellished two-note descent (now the four-note figure) is turned
around and now ascends. It is passed from winds to strings three
times before being abbreviated to a two-note leap of a third, which is
also passed twice from winds to strings. The music here moves
from G major to C major and greatly builds in volume.
1:20 [m. 51]--Second part (b).
The two-note descent now returns
unembellished for an exuberant passage in C major. The string
basses make their first entry, and it is significant, as they pound
away at a persistent low C pedal point. The music resembles a
stomping peasant dance. The two-note descents, which now include
a dotted rhythm, alternate with downward leaps of a third. Four
bars of this material alternate twice with a two-bar detached arching
line. All winds and strings play, the horns joining last on the
1:29 [m. 63]--The music
suddenly becomes very quiet and the winds drop
out. The detached arching line is now turned upside down and
played in a secretive, scurrying manner by the strings, and the basses
drop out again. The character resembles the first part of the
section (a). D minor and
E minor are suggested.
1:34 [m. 71]--The “peasant
dance” material returns, but it is now in
the soft, secretive character. The basses again play their pedal,
but it is quietly plucked. The horns join the pedal, but no other
winds are heard. The violas continue the scurrying line, and
eventually an off-beat C is isolated in the violins. The music
seems to move to E minor.
1:40 [m. 79]--Third part (a’).
The suggestion of the material
from the first part is heard in the cellos, but in the violins and
violas, it is fragmented into upbeat gestures. They quickly reach
a cadence in E minor.
1:43 [m. 83]--The first Presto
melody is heard on its original pitches
in the winds, but it is now harmonized in A minor rather than G
major. After four bars, it breaks off, and rapid descents are
heard first in the strings, then the winds. These move back to
G. The wind descent suddenly emerges into the embellished
two-note descent. This in turn smoothly melts into the ascending
extension from 1:14 [m. 43], with alternation between winds and
strings. A deft extension helps to reverse the notes originally
presented by winds and strings. The expected return to the
“peasant dance” is thwarted by the lack of a buildup.
1:56 [m. 101]--Re-transition.
The entire Presto has been
in two-bar units. Now there are suddenly two groupings of three
bars each. This is to make a metric transition back to the 3/4
Allegretto tempo. Each
bar of the 2/4 is indicated as one single
beat of the 3/4, so each three-bar unit is equal to one bar in the
coming 3/4. The figuration is as before in the violins and
violas, but plucked cellos and the reduction of the winds to soft
chords on oboes, bassoons, and horns also anticipate the return of the
main “scherzo” section.
THIRD SECTION (A’), 3/4 time -
2:01 [m. 107]--The metric
transition has made for a smooth arrival of
the opening theme. The oboes again take the lead, along with
bassoons, but the clarinets are absent. The harmony, including
the “walking” plucked cellos, is A minor rather than G major. The
home key returns as the flutes and horns enter. Here, the actual
theme is interrupted and seems to restart. The flutes take over
the theme with new counterpoint from horn and oboe. Here, the
plucked cellos drop out.
2:16 [m. 114]--On the theme’s
fourth bar, which includes the
triplet-rhythm descent, the strings, including bowed cellos, take
over. The theme, however, stalls on this bar. The pattern
with the triplet descent is repeated a total of eleven times, building
and receding. On the third statement, it shifts down an octave as
the string basses make another entrance. From the seventh
statement, the climax of the buildup and the beginning of the retreat,
it is only played by cellos and basses. Over all of these
repetitions, the winds play short melodic gestures with dotted
rhythms. The violins and violas join these from the seventh
statement. The key moves to E minor (related to G major).
After the eleventh statement of the pattern, there is one bar that
slows to a full close, turning to E major at the very end.
FOURTH SECTION (B’), 3/8 time -
Presto ma non assai
2:46 [m. 126]--This second
“Trio” begins with a rushing series of four
string descents in the new 3/8 meter, each bar of which seems to echo
the long series of repetitions that included triplet descents.
These turn at the end from G major to C major, where a short-long
rhythm makes its first appearance for two string bars.
2:49 [m. 132]--The winds
(without oboes and horns) take over from the
strings, who drop out. They make a sudden shift to A major and
play the short-long rhythm. The melodic patterns seem strangely
familiar, and it soon becomes obvious that this is a transformation of
the stomping “peasant” dance heard in 2/4 in the earlier Presto “Trio”
section (B). The 3/8
meter and the skipping short-long rhythm
lend it an almost “Celtic” character. The last two bars suddenly
2:56 [m. 144]--At this point,
the key has moved from A major to C
major, and from here, the “Celtic” 3/8 transformation of the “peasant
dance” closely follows the pattern from 1:20 [m. 51]. This loud
passage is analogous to the first segment of that material, with the
winds joining the strings on the two-bar detached lines. The
correspondence between the bars and their harmonies from the previous
section is nearly exact.
3:03 [m. 156]--Suddenly quiet,
detached scurrying music analogous to
1:29 [m. 63]. It is, of course, altered to the 3/8 meter, and it
is played by clarinets and bassoons rather than strings. The
suggestions of D minor and E minor are preserved.
3:07 [m. 164]--This follows the
secretive string presentation of the
dance material from 1:34 [m. 71], with plucked basses. There are
no horns. The isolated off-beat C, now on the second beat of the
3/8 bar, is syncopated. The apparent motion to E minor is
3:11 [m. 172]--Following the
pattern at 1:40 [m. 79], the quiet upbeat
gestures in the strings and suggestion of the main Presto material (now
heard for the first time in 3/8) reach a cadence in E minor.
3:13 [m. 176]--The passage
follows 1:43 [m. 83], with the wind
statement of the transformed Presto
melody in A minor. The two
rapid descents are heard, but both are in the strings. The second
is a simple repetition with a new initial harmony; it does not emerge
into the two-note descent. The pattern is thus abbreviated,
without the ascending extension, and the re-transition follows the two
3:20 [m. 188]--Re-transition.
The grouping into three “bars” is
retained for the transition back to 3/4, but instead of six 3/8 bars,
it is notated as two 9/8 bars. They continue the rapid descents,
but the winds make hints at the main Allegretto
melody. The key
appears to move to B major instead of the expected G.
3:24 [m. 190]--Because the 3/8
bars will naturally be slightly faster
than the 2/4 bars of B, some
additional re-transition is needed to
reach the original Allegretto
speed in 3/4. The 3/4 meter arrives
here, but these four bars are still transitional, continuing the
descents. The music actually slows down here rather than simply
making a metrical shift. The wind hints at the melody are
suddenly diverted into a harmonious cadence gesture in thirds.
The strings climb upward, and the music moves beyond B to F-sharp major.
FIFTH SECTION (A”), 3/4 time -
3:32 [m. 194]--First part (a).
The main theme is played in nearly
its original form (at first), but it is in the strings instead of the
winds, and is very much in the wrong key, F-sharp major. The
cello still plays the plucked walking line. The second half of
the phrase makes a harmonic motion back to B major, a turn not heard in
the original theme. The basses also make a new tentative plucked
entrance here where they had been entirely absent. The closing
two-note gesture is suddenly turned upside down so that it now
ascends. The resulting melody in this second part of the phrase
is vaguely reminiscent in contour (and certainly in key) to the main
theme of the second movement!
3:48 [m. 202]--The “echo”
effects from the theme are expanded.
First, winds (oboe, clarinets, bassoon) play the two-note gesture in
its original descending form. Then the strings repeat it in the
inverted ascending form. The winds add a new third “echo,” also
in the descending form. Finally, the strings play a new two-bar
extension that transforms the two-note gesture into the opening
three-note turn from the first
movement. Brahms thus recalls both
previous movements in the space of a few bars. This last
extension finally moves the music home to G major.
3:58 [m. 207]--Second part (b).
This now presents the material of
0:20 [m. 11], but it is rescored for strings instead of oboes.
The bassoons and horn retain their original line, as do the plucked
cellos, and the basses continue to participate where they had not done
4:05 [m. 211]--The passage from
0:28 [m. 15] is also subtly
rescored. The flutes and clarinets take over the melody as they
had before, but now it is the clarinets rather than the flutes who drop
out. The flutes continue the melody, doubled by the oboes.
The pulsating syncopation is transferred from the oboe to the
violins. The horn syncopation in the re-transition is transferred
to violas. Finally, oboe rather than clarinet leads into the
return of the main theme. The same pause is heard before the
4:23 [m. 219]--Third part (a’).
The first six bars follow 0:46
[m. 23] exactly, including scoring.
4:36 [m. 225]--The four last
bars of the return, which had been taken
by the “sighing” descents, emerge into a new and sustained melody in
the strings. Violins and violas play it in unison over the
continuing plucked cellos and basses and under long wind chords.
This new melody, which emerges in G minor,
a strangely melancholy
digression in a mostly lighthearted movement. The winds respond
with another phrase that is highly chromatic, with half-step
motion. Flutes descend while the other winds ascend. Except
for sustained cellos, who suddenly take up their bows for these long
notes, the strings drop out.
4:53 [m. 233]--The main melody
makes a hesitant final return as the
major mode re-emerges. It is in its familiar instrument, the
oboe, with bassoons and clarinets, but the cello accompaniment is now a
winding bowed line that is passed to the violas and back. The
melody is arrested in its third bar by a strangely dissonant wind chord
(a “half-diminished seventh”) that is sustained a bar and then held
even further by a fermata
sign when the strings join in.
5:08 [m. 237]--The sustained
chord is finally dispelled by a genteel
closing cadence in the strings that now seems almost incongruous.
The winds enter with chords in the short-long rhythm of the two-note
descent. They are cut off with a plucked reiteration from
5:25--END OF MOVEMENT [240 mm.]
Movement: Allegro con spirito (Sonata-Allegro form). D MAJOR, Cut
0:00 [m. 1]--Theme 1. The
entry is supported by a soft brass
support, but then the strings continue. The presentation is quiet
and secretive, marked sotto voce.
Although broken by a rest after
the first note, the first three notes are the same as those that opened
the first movement, the downward turn. The continuation moves as
far down as the fourth below, echoing the downward leap in that opening
figure from the first movement. The unison strings continue for
two bars, then break into harmony on the continuation. The theme
meanders, then devolves into a pattern of descending fourths before
slipping to a half-cadence.
0:10 [m. 9]--The theme
continues with a new phrase that develops the
pattern of descending fourths. It includes a distinctive turn
after each set of descents. A bassoon joins the strings for this
phrase, and the low strings move to a brief low drone. After two
sets of descents, the other winds enter with their own descents against
continuing string counterpoint. The harmony moves to distant
regions, and the theme actually recedes even more. The winds drop
out after their brief participation, and the strings wind down in a
similar manner to 0:43 and 6:02 [m. 24] in the first movement.
They completely fade away into silence.
0:28 [m. 23]--After winding
down to nothing on an unstable “diminished
seventh” chord, the full orchestra, complete with thundering timpani,
suddenly wakes up with an enormous outburst. The outburst, while
joyous, is unsettling because it begins just off the beat. The
huge arpeggio, with violins moving down and low strings moving up, with
chords from brass and winds, moves directly into a statement of the
theme’s opening at a grand and full level, in stark contrast to its
first presentation. The first gesture is given an extra,
decorated statement, and the theme reaches higher so that the
descending fourths are at a higher level.
0:39 [m. 32]--New material is
inserted into the theme. The
insertion begins with six repeated statements of a heavily accented
figure based on the “turning” figures from the theme. These work
steadily higher, with several intruding chromatic notes, until the
sixth statement plunges downward. This leads to four more bars of
similar downward plunging figures, all very loud and given strong
accents with winds, brass, and timpani. Finally, an arpeggio
moves further downward and turns back around.
0:53 [m. 44]--The continuation
from 0:10 [m. 9] now returns in greatly
altered form. The descending fourths are now extremely exuberant
and separated by brass and drum punctuations while the second violins
and violas continue with faster motion. It is greatly expanded
and varied, eventually adding a hammering repetition before the
descent. The “turning” figures then take over and the music
builds even more, reaching an intense and unsettled climax with eight
repetitions of the same turning figures with syncopated brass and wind
chords along with timpani rolls.
1:12 [m. 60]--Transition.
Suddenly the violins, brass, and most
winds drop out. A clarinet begins a descending line that rapidly
moves to F major, the suggested harmony of the “distant regions” heard
at 0:10 [m. 9]. The low strings rapidly diminish. They
continue the turning figures under the clarinet line, which continues
by rapidly arching up and back down.
1:18 [m. 66]--The flute takes
over the clarinet descent. This
flute statement and an oboe statement that follows shift to D minor,
the home minor key, which is the closely related “relative” minor key
to the previous F major. The volume winds down again, and a
slower arching arpeggio from plucked strings under soft wind chords
leads to the “dominant” key of A major for the second theme.
1:33 [m. 78]--Theme 2. It
is an extremely warm and soulful tune
with broad lines at a moderate volume. Brahms even marks it
largamente. The opening
of the theme turns the beginning figure
of the movement (and the first movement) upside down after repeating
the first note. The first violins present it in their lower
register while the other strings provide counterpoint derived from the
“turning” figures of Theme 1. The theme builds, reaches higher,
and approaches a cadence (A major).
1:44 [m. 86]--The winds take
over the theme in a harmonized restatement
at the half-cadence. The strings continue with more prominent
lines including the “turning” figures, which now make wide octave
leaps. The last two bars of the restatement are redirected and
lead to a four-bar expansion in which the violins join the main line
with the winds. The extension builds greatly and leads to a
2:01 [m. 98]--The strings
suddenly emerge into a heavily accented
descending scale with a slow tremolo
effect. The accents are on
weak beats. This scale moves to the minor key (still based on
A). The winds also play the scale. These wind instruments
then break into rapid arching figures against forceful two-note upbeat
figures in the strings and horns. The figures continue with the
violins now playing the arching lines while everyone else plays the
two-note upbeats. The music here moves back to A major.
2:12 [m. 106]--A similar
descending scale with weak beat accents and
slow tremolo begins the
transition to the closing material of the
exposition. It also hints at a minor key (B minor), but is
harmonized. This continues with yet more accented descents from
the winds, the violins and violas following each note with off-beat
chords. As a climax approaches, the winds move off the beat as
well so that only low strings play on the beat, creating strong
syncopation. There is a strong confirmation of the A-major key
2:22 [m. 114]--Closing
Material. A strong arrival brings back
material from Theme 1, primarily the “turning” figures. They are
played by violins and flutes, with strong interjections from brass and
timpani along with long chords in winds and low strings. The mood
is extraordinarily festive and excited. After four bars, horns
and winds emerge with an extremely prominent and exuberant descending
line. Suddenly, this breaks off, and a series of string descents
tries to regain momentum, but is sharply cut off.
2:32 [m. 122]--The music is
suddenly hushed. Brass and low
strings drop out. The violins and violas play plucked broken
chords while flutes and clarinets play a sort of “interruption,” a
series of meandering turning figures and scales harmonized in
thirds. Following a long descent, the flutes and clarinets
separate. Bassoons join the former and oboes the latter, and the
groups play in alternation, still over plucked strings. This also
culminates in a long descent. All four pairs of wind instruments
play in pleasing thirds.
2:41 [m. 130]--The running
figures in thirds now begin a strong buildup
in flowing stepwise motion that continually arches up and down.
Clarinets and bassoons (a new pairing) begin. They are then
joined by flutes and oboes. Finally, the strings take their bows
and take over with a series of rapidly building ascents. At that
point, the winds take over the detached slower figures from the plucked
strings. The final ascent is in a rapid triplet rhythm that
suddenly breaks off. The next bar starts with a general pause,
and all winds and strings play a series of four syncopated cadence
gestures leading to the last strong arrival on A major.
2:57 [m. 142]--Transition to
Development. The strong cadence
merges into clipped figures in a skipping short-long rhythm.
These are played by the strings with supporting wind chords.
Trumpets and timpani enter as well. They remain in A major, but
seem to threaten a departure.
3:05 [m. 149]--The clipped
short-long figures are suddenly
hushed. Winds and brass drop out and activity starts to settle
down. The music moves away from A major back toward the home key
of D. The strings fade away as oboes and clarinets, and later
flutes play the last short-long figures, which are very quiet and
subdued. These lead smoothly back to D and merge directly into
the development section, whose beginning is the same as the opening of
the movement, complete with the soft brass support on the first beat.
3:14 [m. 155]--First
section. The first four bars are an exact
repetition of the movement’s opening, but after that, the strings move
in a different direction and alternate a series of overlapping
three-note figures with various groups of wind instruments. The
strings consistently avoid playing on the downbeat of each bar here,
leaving that to the wind groups, who begin their groups on the last
beat of each bar. The music remains hushed. At the same
time, the harmony moves away from D major to darker minor-key areas,
first to E minor and then to F-sharp minor, where the winds drop out
and the strings come to a half-cadence.
3:34 [m. 170]--Winds and
strings begin a variant of Theme 1 in F-sharp
minor that nearly turns it upside-down. The upper strings then
break into short, light figures while the cellos, then winds restate
the last portion of the variant. The winds then sequence these
notes upward twice, still alternating with the cellos, who seem to
propel the winds upward. The harmony also shifts a level, to
C-sharp minor. After the last statement of these notes, the winds
continue to develop the material of Theme 1 in C-sharp minor, moving
directly into the “turning” figures. Finally, the strings hint at
the opening figure as the winds reach a poignant cadence in C-sharp
3:53 [m. 184]--Theme 1’s second
phrase, first heard at 0:10 [m. 9], is
given a new and powerful statement in C-sharp minor There are
heavy accents on weak beats. Most winds and all strings punctuate
these weak beats. Right before an expected cadence, Brahms veers
away and heads toward B minor.
4:00 [m. 189]--The variant of
the same phrase from 0:53 [m. 44] is
heard in B minor. There are horn and trumpet punctuations.
It is again strong and powerful. The phrase continues with the
“hammering repetitions.” It departs from the pattern when the
“turning figures” are reached, going a new direction, but preserving
the great buildup and climax associated with this version of the
phrase. The “turning” figures emerge in cross groupings that
extend over bar lines The heavily chromatic motion leads
eventually back to F-sharp, but it is now the major-key version.
When the climax is reached, the strings, initially with wind chord
support, make a strong descent with heavy syncopation.
4:23 [m. 206]--Second
section. Overlapping with the previous
descent, the winds (without oboes) enter with a highly varied version
of Theme 1’s opening in F-sharp major. It is suddenly quiet,
marked “Tranquillo,” and played in a smooth, leisurely triplet
rhythm. The string basses drop out for a long stretch here.
The winds alternate presentation with the strings. After one
alternation, the winds reach a cadence.
4:29 [m. 210]--Another
alternation of the “tranquillo” triplet material
in F-sharp begins, this time starting with the strings. After the
winds play, the strings begin to move to a cadence, but Brahms
re-notates F-sharp major as G-flat major and a change of key follows to
the flat side, B-flat minor. The strings make a suddenly
melancholy descent as the new key arrives.
4:37 [m. 214]--An oboe, left
out of the wind statements of the
triplets, now almost sneaks in to play the second phrase with the
descending fourths in B-flat minor. It is given syncopated
support by a horn, and the strings play isolated upbeat figures such as
those heard around 2:01 [m. 98]. The mood is still tranquil and
quiet. After the oboe statement, the material is passed to a
clarinet, which is joined by a flute, then a bassoon. This
statement is extended and winds downward to another arrival on B-flat.
4:49 [m. 221]--As the winds
arrive on B-flat, the violins enter and
they, along with clarinets and bassoons, pivot sharply from B-flat
minor back to the previous F-sharp major, where the triplet music
begins again, marked “sempre più tranquillo.” This time,
there are no wind-string alternations, but the material is used to
begin a long motion toward the preparatory “dominant,” A major.
The instruments fluidly pass the material between each other, and
eventually the flutes and oboes join in. At a very quiet level,
the triplets break off, and a slow descent veers unexpectedly from A
major to C major.
5:17 [m. 234]--Re-transition.
The music suddenly becomes
extremely hushed and mysterious. The string basses make their
first entrance after a long absence. Also, the trombones and tuba
make their first entrance in the movement. Flute, oboe, clarinet
and trombones state a transformed version of the second phrase, the
descending fourths. The notes are twice as long as in previous
statements. The violins begin a shimmering tremolo under
this. The first statement is over a long-held C. A second
statement begins on D. As the bass moves to A, flute and strings
come together on a winding descent over brass octaves and a timpani
roll. The key is not D major, but D minor. If fades away,
merging into the quiet beginning of the recapitulation. (The
entire passage has similarities to the opening of Mahler’s First
Symphony, composed ten years later.)
5:39 [m. 244]--The preparation
of the re-transition for the soft
opening is masterful, and it arrives as expected, with the initial
brass support. Although quiet, the sudden arrival of D major
after the D minor in the previous descent is extremely
refreshing. The first phrase is as at the beginning to the
5:49 [m. 252]--The second
phrase is completely transformed. The
descending fourths are inverted, and now shoot upward. They begin
in the lower strings. Winds and violins enter above them with
rising octaves, then take over the rising fourths while the low strings
continue in counterpoint on the “turning figures.” The
continuation moves more forcefully to A major, but as the music slows
for the final descent, it turns back to D, avoiding the distant
harmonic regions and using the “diminished seventh” chords as a means
instead of an end. The last two chords are isolated in the
strings, and an expectant pause follows.
6:04 [m. 264]--The radiant
outburst with brass and timpani is analogous
to that at 0:28 [m. 23]. The direction of the lead-in arpeggio
beginning off the beat is reversed. The outburst itself is
varied, first with wind commentary on the opening figures, then with
churning strings continuing the outline of the theme while moving
entirely in half-steps. The continuation is expanded by two bars
from the exposition presentation by adding bars of “breath” with the
churning strings between the soaring wind and horn figures. The
strings intersperse arpeggios with the chromatic half-step motion.
6:17 [m. 275]--This passage
begins like 0:39 [m. 32], but it is much
abbreviated, and trombones are added. The second heavily accented
turn figure already deviates, and the number of these figures is
reduced to three. A fourth is aborted by a premature “plunging”
descent which then slows to a triplet rhythm in the strings and leads
directly into Theme 2, omitting the exuberant continuation and
6:25 [m. 281]--Theme 2, in the
home key of D major. The pattern
remains otherwise close to 1:33 [m. 78] except for the presence of
long-held syncopated horn notes in support. The violas also add a
new line of harmony that makes the theme seem richer and fuller than
6:37 [m. 289]--The wind
restatement is essentially analogous to 1:44
[m. 86], with some changes. The oboes, who were absent for the
first portion of this music in the exposition, now replace the
clarinets, who remain silent for quite some time. The violins
also join on the main line with the winds two bars earlier. The
powerful buildup remains.
6:53 [m. 301]--This passage
remains very close to 2:01 [m. 98].
The scale with tremolo
effects is obviously now in D minor. The
arching figures and two-note upbeat gestures are scored as before.
7:03 [m. 309]--Other than key,
this is nearly exactly analogous to 2:12
[m. 106]. The harmonized minor-key hint is now at E minor.
The climax, with off-beat chords and syncopation, closely follows the
exposition and strongly confirms D major.
7:14 [m. 317]--Closing
material. It is closely analogous to 2:22
[m. 114], including scoring and the festive, celebratory mood.
7:25 [m. 325]--The hushed
“interruption” with wind runs in thirds and
plucked string broken chords remains close to 2:32 [m. 122]. When
the other winds join the flutes and clarinets, the pairing on the
alternation is different. Now flutes and clarinets remain
together and oboes are joined with bassoons.
7:33 [m. 333]--The buildup is
analogous to 2:41 [m. 130]. The
runs begin with flutes and clarinets rather than clarinets and
bassoons. The string ascents and the forceful syncopated cadence
gestures follow. Here, the horns are given a larger role than in
7:49 [m. 345]--The transitional
passage with short-long rhythms begins
as at 2:57 [m. 142], but since there does not need to be a motion to a
new key, that is avoided, and instead the figures turn to the home
minor key. The brass are thinned, but the strings and winds
continue to build. The passage is extended by two bars, ending
with a plunging arpeggio, and the soft continuation from 3:05 [m. 149]
7:59 [m. 353]--The trombones
and tuba make a solid entrance, and the
strings begin to pass measured tremolo
effects among themselves.
The music quickly recedes to a quiet level. The trombones and
tuba, along with bassoons, begin a harmonized variation of Theme 2
that exploits its opening syncopation, extending it to cross over bar
lines. D minor remains in force. After one bar, the upper
winds enter in near-imitation on this highly syncopated version of
2, also in full harmony. The music briefly swells.
8:06 [m. 358]--Overlapping the
completion of the upper wind statement,
the low brass and bassoons begin the process again, now a step higher,
on C major. They are once again at a quiet level. Again,
the upper winds enter in near imitation after one bar and the strings
continue their tremolo
arpeggios passed among themselves. As
before, the music swells, but this time it does not recede again.
8:12 [m. 363]--The full
orchestra now takes over the highly syncopated
Theme 2 variant, still a step higher, in B-flat major. There is
now no near-imitation, and all instruments basically play
together. There are two statements, each a bar shorter than the
ones at 7:59 [m. 353] and 8:06 [m. 358]. The music is now at full
8:23 [m. 371]--Suddenly, the
strings break off this Theme 2 material
with a descending arpeggio that seems as if it is going to move away
from B-flat, transforming the chord into an “augmented sixth” that
would lead back home to D. This arpeggio is stated three
times. The second time is after a rest on the downbeat. The
third time, it is an octave lower and with notes twice as long, again
after a rest on the downbeat. These descents are supported by
forceful wind and brass chords as well as timpani.
8:29 [m. 375]--The implied
motion from B-flat back to D does not happen
as expected, and instead just seems to come to a stop. At this
point, an unexpected return, that of the flowing “tranquillo” triplets
from the development section at 4:23 [m. 206], serves to start the
momentum again. This time, they are underpinned by an
unmistakable statement of Theme 2’s opening in the low strings and
bassoons. Both elements imply a motion back to D major. The
bass statements remain anchored while the triplets steadily move up and
gradually build over four bass statements. At the third, the
timpani and higher winds enter.
8:39 [m. 383]--The Theme 2
material in the bass breaks its pattern, and
the triplets, which had been followed by an arching syncopation, now
completely give way to that syncopation as Brahms begins to make the
dramatic buildup to his grand closing.
8:43 [m. 387]--A very noble
version of Theme 1 begins in D minor, with
powerful brass and strong supporting chords. The gestures are
broken by these chords twice before breaking into a continuously rising
and building sequence of “turning” gestures. In the buildup, minor
gradually gives way to major.
8:55 [m. 397]--The strings move
from the “turning” gestures to a steady
trill-like alternation. Low strings, trombones, tuba, bassoons,
and clarinets begin a thrilling sequence of powerful descending scales
against rich trumpet and horn chords. These scales are finally
taken by the higher winds and violins over a timpani roll, the violins
slightly displacing their descent with repeated notes and mild
9:04 [m. 405]--The final windup
is a series of arching scales in the
strings with powerful repeated notes in horns and trumpets over
timpani. These are stated twice, the second time a step
higher. Each statement is followed by an arresting pause that
seems as if Brahms is slamming on the brakes--perhaps a symbol of the
many meaningful silences and pauses throughout the symphony. The
scales resume in the low strings under a thundering timpani roll and
brilliant octaves in horns and trumpets, supported by tremolo violins.
9:17 [m. 417]--The arrival
point is marked by a boisterous return of
Theme 2’s opening, first in horns and trumpets, which are powerfully
joined in a second statement by trombones, tuba, and higher
winds. Turning figures derived from Theme 2 are then heard in all
winds over another timpani roll. All occurs over shimmering
violin tremolo motion, the
low strings and bassoons anchoring
everything. Finally, four short D-major chords are played as the
trombones hold a blazingly bright chord. The trombones cut off
the chord on the third and fourth short blasts. The symphony then
ends with a final long chord in all instruments.
9:43--END OF MOVEMENT [429 mm.]
END OF SYMPHONY
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