SYMPHONY NO. 2 in D MAJOR, OP. 73
Recording: Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Claudio Abbado
[DG 435 683-2]
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 Symphony.
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.
SCORE FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut
SCORE FROM 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
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
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
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 “diminished”
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
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 cellos.
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
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
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 will begin.
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
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
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
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 chord.
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 greatly.
5:06 [m. 179, first ending]--The
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
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
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
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 2:22.
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 2:42.
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, as at 3:07.
8:43 [m. 118]--Closing
section. Upward leaps, syncopations, and march-like
music, as at 3:24.
8:59 [m. 127]--Churning
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
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
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 first violins.
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
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
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. With
clarinets and 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
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 minor.
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 four.
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.
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 exposition.
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 recapitulation.
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 stronger.
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
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
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
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 trombones.
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 four downbeats.
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 Theme 1.
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
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 two bars.
21:02--END OF MOVEMENT [523
Movement: 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
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, follows 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 F-sharp.
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
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
4:20 [m. 49]--The
closing theme melody generates a stormy fugato. It 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. Against
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, rising
three-note figures in the winds held over the beats, and slow
three-note gestures in trombone and tuba, similar to 4:54 [m.
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.
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 and climax.
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 chords.
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 cellos.
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
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 9/8 measures.
FIRST SECTION (A),
0:00 [m. 1]--First
part (a). The
minuet-like theme is presented 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 minor.
0:28 [m. 15]--Halfway
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 pause.
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
SECOND SECTION (B),
2/4 time - Presto ma non assai
1:07 [m. 33]--First
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 bass pedal.
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
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
1:56 [m. 101]--Re-transition.
entire Presto has
been grouped 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
THIRD SECTION (A’),
3/4 time - Tempo primo
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
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 preserved.
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
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 descents directly.
3:20 [m. 188]--Re-transition.
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
FIFTH SECTION (A”),
3/4 time - Tempo primo
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 so
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 return.
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, is 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
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 the strings.
5:25--END OF MOVEMENT [240
Movement: Allegro con spirito (Sonata-Allegro form). D
MAJOR, Cut time [2/2].
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
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.
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 half-close.
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
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 here.
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
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
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
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.
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
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 transition.
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 before.
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 the exposition.
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] is omitted.
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 Theme 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 lower, 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 lower, 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 volume.
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 syncopation.
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 thumping
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
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
END OF SYMPHONY
BRAHMS LISTENING GUIDES