VIOLIN CONCERTO in D MAJOR, OP. 77
Recording: Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin; Berlin Philharmonic,
by Herbert von Karajan [DG 415 569-2]
Close on the heels
the Second Symphony followed another D-major orchestral work
monumental proportions. The return to the concerto genre
years after the early First Piano Concerto was almost as
overdue as his
production of a first symphony. As in that genre,
followed surprisingly closely, as the Second Piano Concerto
published two years later. The great violinist Joseph
one of Brahms’s closest friends, and his figure has always
the work. Brahms, who was not a string player, turned to
advice in figuration and other aspects of the solo part.
as the actual composition goes, there are elements of
both piano concertos. The first movement is on an epic
scale. Among his instrumental movements, only the first
of Piano Concerto No. 1 is (usually) longer. Brahms
emulate Beethoven to some extent here, as that composer’s only
concerto also boasts a first movement lasting more than twenty
with a broad tempo. The triple time and the general
character also draw comparisons to the opening movement of his
recent Second Symphony. The concerto was originally
planned in an
unusual four movements, but he finally settled on a single
movement, the rather small but beautiful Adagio we know
he would do with the cello in the slow movement of the Second
Concerto, he entrusted the first presentation of the main
another instrument, in this case the oboe--much to the
various virtuoso violinists. The finale has an
“gypsy” flavor, a nod to Joachim’s Hungarian roots. The
change at the end again invites comparison to a similar device
end of the Second Piano Concerto. For the only time in
works, Brahms left part of a piece indeterminate. Like
he composed no solo cadenza for the first movement, leaving
(apparently) to the performer after the standard chord and
pause in the
orchestra. Despite the existence of many others, no
close to Joachim’s in emulating the spirit of the work, and
it his approval. In my opinion, the Joachim cadenza is
integral part of the work’s identity, and no other should ever
played in performance. His intimate connection to the
his presentation of it all across Europe give his contribution
FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut Lübeck)
SCORE FROM IMSLP (First Edition
[monochrome] from Russian State Library)
SCORE FROM IMSLP (from Breitkopf &
Härtel Sämtliche Werke)
SCORE FROM IMSLP (Piano/Violin score, orchestral
reduction by Brahms; first edition from Berlin State Library [Staatsbibliothek])
SCORE FROM IMSLP (Cadenza by Joseph Joachim; Published
by Simrock, 1902)
Some other published cadenzas appear on the IMSLP work page
under the “Arrangement and Transcriptions” tab.
Movement: Allegro non troppo (First movement concerto
exposition sonata] form). D MAJOR, 3/4 time.
0:00 [m. 1]--Theme 1:
but simple arching up and down the chord of D major in triple
time. It is presented by low strings, bassoons, and
The oboes answer this initial presentation with a new, more
harmonically active phrase over undulating string
This becomes quite dramatic.
0:31 [m. 17]--Transition.
strings and winds enter with a strong, angular unison idea
to a syncopated descent. This then breaks into harmony
up to a grand entrance of the entire orchestra, including
timpani, for a bold statement of Theme 1 with shimmering
The violins lag behind the brass, creating a counterpoint of
imitation The theme now develops into leaping, exuberant
syncopations, making a harmonic turn toward A major.
1:09 [m. 41]--Theme 2:
promise of a new key is averted by the oboe and horn, which
second theme in D major (typical in a concerto orchestral
after an abrupt cutoff. It is more stepwise than Theme
somewhat more melancholy. The violins and flutes take
theme with string and horn support, and extend it in quiet,
harmonies. These lead into an even quieter descent.
1:42 [m. 61]--Flute,
and bassoon descend in a wide four-note arpeggio on F-sharp
C-sharp. Horns and timpani join them on the fourth
The winds then present a winding, flowing line, which is taken
violins and violas. This line turns to minor.
a variant of Theme 2 in the minor key, with its elements split
winds and strings. It becomes hushed before a bridging
2:13 [m. 78]--Closing
D minor. The strings suddenly erupt into a powerful,
with prominent dotted (long-short) rhythms. The violins
into faster, arching notes under punctuating chords.
into a series of churning descents from the upper strings
syncopation in the low strings and winds. These propel
into the dramatic first entry of the soloist.
2:35 [m. 90]--Over a
roll and a held horn octave, the solo violin enters in the
with a cadenza-like passage that is improvisatory in
detached runs and arpeggios with double-stops are fragments of
1. The orchestral strings provide isolated interjections
martial Closing Theme. After incorporating several
soloist then strives upward with shorter gestures.
2:57 [m. 102]--Against
orchestral chord, the soloist breaks into a series of downward
arpeggios in groups of six. The music quiets down, and
soloist widens the arpeggios to two beats in irregular groups
notes. At this point, the oboe enters with a descending
which is taken over by the clarinet and bassoon. The
continues, but the horns now hold a third instead of an
3:17 [m. 112]--The
arpeggios are now detached and in regular groups of four,
over two beats. The flute enters with a line reminiscent
1. This is taken over by the bassoon as the solo violin
become smooth again. There is a turn back to the major
3:34 [m. 120]--The
strings gently enter with suggestions of Theme 1 as the winds
notes and the drum roll continues. The solo violin
abandons its arpeggios in favor of an oscillating motion that
moves downward with the orchestral strings. It
down to winding triplets (groups of three) as the timpani roll
ends. The low strings, then the orchestral violins,
3:52 [m. 128]--The
out and the orchestral strings hold a soft chord. The
winds downward, moving from triplets to groups of four.
finally begins a steady upward scale that includes many
half-steps. This scale leaps down an octave twice before
reaching its high point. Brahms indicates a slowing here
soloist lingers on
an arpeggio before leading into a sustained trill. This
marks the end of the improvisatory introductory section of the
4:19 [m. 136]--Theme
The soloist presents it with light accompaniment, including
viola arpeggios. After the initial phrase, the soloist
continuation of the theme with another indulgence in leisurely
and trills, including passages in triplet rhythm, over a soft
5:02 [m. 152]--Theme 1
finally allowed to continue. The orchestral strings,
violins, then the cellos and violas, play the phrase initially
presented by the oboes at the beginning of the orchestral
exposition. The solo violin continues its decorations
this. They are quite high and angular, again including
arpeggios, and some triplet rhythm. The phrase is
slightly, shifting the last part upward, suggesting a change
of key to
A, the expected “dominant.”
5:25 [m. 164]--Transition.
a passage similar in character to the unison at 0:31 [m. 17],
soloist plays angry chords in triple stops (three-string
The top note of these chords (E) remains constant until the
ascent. Below this, the low strings play the leaping
the earlier unison idea.
5:36 [m. 170]--The
breaks into leaping oscillations that gradually move down and
up. The strings continue the unison leaps of the
transition. They break off after a loud chord, leaving
soloist to gradually reach back up. The triumphant
Theme 1 previously heard after this music is omitted.
5:50 [m. 178]--Theme
2: As the
soloist continues the pattern of arpeggios, the flutes
enter with the second theme. It is now in the new
(A major). The soloist’s arpeggios slow down to a
winding down and back up. The orchestral violins take
2 from the flutes. This follows the pattern of 1:09 [m.
the extension and very quiet, winding harmonies and descent,
doubled by a flute and decorated with the leaping triplets,
octaves and fifths, of the violin.
6:26 [m. 198]--The
instruments play their wide four-note descent, as at 1:42 [m.
on C-sharp and G-sharp. The winding, flowing line from
is taken over by the soloist instead of the orchestral strings
without the turn to minor. The minor-key variant of
Theme 2 is
6:41 [m. 206]--Theme
3: As is
common in concertos, the soloist is given a new theme, usually
described as “Theme 3,” in the solo exposition. This
emerges out of the winding, flowing line. It features
dotted rhythms and gently descending leaps, along with winding
arpeggios. It breaks into a series of wide leaps as
great as a
tenth, supported by double stops. It is supported by
wind chords and plucked (pizzicato)
arpeggios from the orchestral strings. The orchestral
(bowed, not plucked) begin the “winding, flowing line” against
soloist’s leaps, which are now somewhat syncopated, reaching
6:58 [m. 214]--The
violins take over Theme 3, the soloist adding decorations
again leads with the wide leaps. These again become
syncopated and are now significantly extended as the winds
drop out and
the plucked string background is reduced to isolated
soloist then breaks into even wider, higher leaps as the winds
and the music turns to the minor key (A minor). Finally,
soloist is isolated in a chromatic descent that is closed by a
7:48 [m. 236]--Somewhat
the orchestral strings begin the minor-key variant of
Theme 2 that was previously heard before the Closing Theme in
orchestral exposition and was cut off here by the entry of
3. The soloist joins in presenting the elements of that
with double stops. All of Theme 3 can now be seen as a
insertion. There is the same hushed, bridging bass
8:09 [m. 246]--Closing
now presented by the soloist in triple stops (in A
orchestral strings join in right before the long, arching
now taken by the soloist, as are the following short
descents. The orchestral strings provide light, but
8:33 [m. 260]--The
enter, and the soloist briefly drops out. The low
over the “churning” descents. The winds then drop out
soloist adds a new ascending, syncopated chromatic line in
double stops against the continuing “churning,” now passed to
8:43 [m. 266]--The
break into punctuating chords as the soloist merges into two
descents in triplets. The soloist then reaches very high
final rapid descending scale as the winds enter with an
sustained chord. The soloist turns around and rushes
leaping down once before continuing, demanding a response from
8:56 [m. 272]--The
drops out as the “solo exposition” ends. The orchestra,
with a timpani roll, responds to the previous passage with two
chords and a passionate minor-key outburst of Theme 1 (the key
A minor). It is developed with syncopation, arching
triplet rhythms. The winds, joined by strings, provide
punctuations based on the Closing Theme.
9:11 [m. 280]--The
to C major, the related major key to A minor, for a further
of this “passionate” Theme 1 variant. The punctuations
the Closing Theme are heard again, and are extremely emphatic.
9:25 [m. 288]--The
violins joyously develop Theme 3 in C major, complete with the
accompanying plucked arpeggios. They alternate with the winds,
the variant of Theme 2 initially heard before the closing
Theme, now in
major. Both ideas are heard twice in alternation.
second statement of Theme 3 is an octave lower and
its second statement, the Theme 2 variant turns back to the
its “natural” home, now limited to soft clarinets and
by low strings.
9:55 [m. 304]--The
makes its first entry in the development. It continues
minor-key variant of Theme 2 in C minor. It breaks into
stops as the orchestral strings provide a syncopated
slow-moving and repeated notes. The passage is filled
10:12 [m. 312]--In a
marked “tranquillo,” still in C minor, the wind instruments
descending line derived from the Theme 2 variant, beginning
oboe and moving to bassoon and clarinet. The soloist
continuous rhythm of short-short-long figures beginning on
upbeats. These move mostly by step, but there are shifts
register. The short notes often turn under the preceding
note and back.
10:29 [m. 320]--The
short-short-long line continues in the solo violin, but now it
gradually slides upward on the long notes. A brief
happens before the violin line jumps high again and gradually
down, all in the same continuous rhythm. It then works
its way up
twice more. The descending line derived from the Theme 2
is now in the orchestral strings. These strings die
the soloist to continue the short-short-long groups alone for
culminating in a descending arpeggio.
10:55 [m. 332]--Still
minor, the solo violin begins a long ascending broken chord,
a trill throughout the ascent (the neighboring trill notes are
carefully indicated). The orchestral strings incorporate
short-short-long rhythm under this. Fast arching
groups of six begin after the ascending trill. The
a large cadence in C minor.
11:10 [m. 340]--The
drops out as the full orchestra begins a development of the
short-short-long figure. Finally, the music moves away
minor. The short-short-long figures become more static,
music seems to have slid up to C-sharp minor, but a loud chord
minor from the winds diverts this as the short-short-long
11:25 [m. 348]--The
chord is quietly repeated. The soloist begins a series
two-note leaps slurred and bowed across bar lines. These
down and back up five times. They vaguely suggest Theme
There is light accompaniment from strings and bassoons.
violins, low strings, and bassoons play leaps resembling the
transition. The violas play pulsating triplets.
passage works from A minor back to the home key of D.
fifth descent and ascent from the soloist (reaching the
there is a final descent anticipating the arrival on D, which
11:49 [m. 361]--The
plays the martial rhythm of the Closing Theme in
strings all play in thick tremolo.
the winds enter, the solo violin’s octaves shift to music from
1 that resembles the soloist’s initial improvisatory
alternation of these two elements happens a second time.
time, the Theme 1 music intensifies in preparation for the
12:11 [m. 373]--Re-transition.
solo violin, after a leap in the rhythm of the Closing Theme,
breaks into rapid “churning notes.” The string tremolos
as does a drum roll. Horns and other winds imitate the
large leap. The solo violin itself repeats the large
then continues the descending “churning” figures. The
timpani, and most winds drop out as the soloist begins a wide
descent and ascent culminating in a high sustained note.
point, the winds begin a winding line that slows slightly over
powerful crescendo and timpani roll. The solo violin
12:27 [m. 381]--Theme
presented triumphantly from the full orchestra including
trumpets. The orchestra enters suddenly after the
crescendo. The winds and brass mainly present the theme,
strings remaining in tremolo
with arching motion from the violins. After the initial
there is a brief pause, then an echo with plucked strings and
winds. The following violin bridge is much
the scales and trills before 5:02 [m. 152] and now with wind
plucked string background.
12:50 [m. 393]--Continuation
Theme 1. The phrase initially presented by the oboes is
a fourth higher than in either exposition, partly as a result
previous shorter bridge. This allows Brahms to continue
in the pattern of the solo exposition at 5:02 [m. 152] while
in the home key. There are some changes. The high
violin presents the first part of the phrase with clarinet and
orchestral violins. The horns now play the continuation
been played by violas and cellos. Over this, the flute
first part of the original decorations, which the soloist
after two bars.
13:14 [m. 405]--Transition,
at 5:25 [m. 164]. The top note of the triple stops is A
of E. The register has shifted, so the music is now a
(rather than a fourth higher) than the solo exposition.
13:25 [m. 411]--Leaping
as at 5:36 [m. 170].
13:39 [m. 419]--Surreptitious
of Theme 2, as at 5:50 [m. 178]. This time, the oboes
it instead of the flutes as the soloist continues the
breaks into triplets. After the orchestral violins take
flute and oboe enter, doubling them. Perhaps in
the flute does not double the violins on the extension.
a note with the oboe and horns over the descent of quiet,
harmonies. Because of what follows, this extension is
shorter, with an earlier bassoon entry.
14:12 [m. 437]--Here
is a major
break from both expositions. Since Theme 2 was in D
major, as in
the orchestral exposition, the four-note wind descent might
expected on its pitches there at 1:42 [m. 61]--F-sharp and
C-sharp. Instead, they enter two bars earlier than in
exposition on the unexpected notes G and D. Not only
they are condensed to two bars by much shorter, unequal
There follows a quiet, ominous two bars over a timpani roll
added octave of G-D wind descent.
14:21 [m. 441]--Because
altered wind descent, the key is unexpectedly shifted for the
flowing line. It is now in F-sharp major, where Theme 3
heard. The winds do not play it this time, as it is
the orchestral strings (under a held wind chord) to the solo
14:29 [m. 445]--Theme
3, as at
6:41 [m. 206]. For variety, Brahms sets the solo portion
key of F-sharp major, rather than remaining in the home key,
14:45 [m. 453]--Theme
taken over by the orchestral violins, as at 6:58 [m.
solo violin briefly drops out here. This is because the
is extended in a sort of “restart” with a dramatic turn to the
of D major on a higher entry. After the home key is
re-established, the music follows as before, with the wide
the soloist (who re-enters), the turn to the minor key, and
isolated chromatic descent with a slow, closing turn figure
15:43 [m. 479]--Minor-key
of Theme 2, as at 7:48 [m. 236]. The bass descent is
abbreviated by two bars.
16:01 [m. 487]--Closing
as at 8:09 [m. 246], but in the home minor key (D minor), as
orchestral exposition at 2:13 [m. 78]. The patterns and
continuations are as in the solo exposition.
16:25 [m. 501]--Entry
winds, “churning” descents in the orchestral strings, and new
syncopated octave double stops in the solo violin, as at 8:33
16:35 [m. 507]--As at
266], the soloist breaks into two descents in triplets.
following high leap, descent, and ascent is similar, but with
different figuration and divisions of notes and two
descending leaps in the middle of the “ascent” rather than
As before, it demands an orchestral response.
16:47 [m. 513]--The
response is not like the beginning of the Development section,
rather a reference to the triumphant statement of Theme 1 from
orchestral exposition after 0:31 [m. 17]. It turns
the key of B-flat major. The passage is abbreviated,
to D major and coming to a grand pause on the chord (the
“six-four”) that traditionally signaled the soloist’s
cadenza [m. 525]. This conventional, established device
used in Brahms’s other three concertos.
CADENZA by Joseph Joachim (approved by Brahms)--measure
preceded by “C.”
17:13 [m. C1]--Arching
arpeggios, octave double stops and triplet rhythms are used in
initial reference to Theme 1. This then breaks into the
wide leaps with held lower notes that are familiar from Theme
incorporating double stops and counterpoint. This builds
17:34 [m. C13]--Strong
rhythms in double stops derived from the Closing Theme.
leap up and back down, then become almost playful before
settling on G major.
17:50 [m. C22]--A
expressive passage with double stop sixths and thirds.
down and turns to the related minor key of G major, E
passage is derived from the music at 9:55 [m. 304] in the
18:09 [m. C31]--Extended
using the short-short-long rhythm heard in much of the
Development section. Triple stop chords are used as
punctuations. The passage begins in E minor, then moves
minor. The intensity builds. Triple stops begin to
on every “long” note, with strong accents. There is a
of a motion to the related key of F major.
18:36 [m. C43]--Rapid,
oscillating arpeggios incorporating double stops, beginning in
and moving to G minor.
18:49 [m. C53]--The
arrested with winding, melancholy lines. These initially
incorporate double and triple stops. They then move to A
the violin reaches high. A faster flourish is
19:05 [m. C61]--The
flourish is developed into a passage of rapid, but quiet
Motion back to the home key of D major/minor.
19:13 [m. C68]--A long
of trills, initially leaping down three octaves then back up
The trills then move up chromatically. Leaping figures
counterpoint to the trill on other strings. The
culmination is in
a long trill on the note E. A long trill normally
end of the cadenza, but this trill is not on the note
Brahms (not Joachim), which is C-sharp.
19:29 [m. C75]--The
passage of the cadenza is quite serene. Winding triplets
to groups of four notes in a descent. There are then two
ascents, the second one longer and more drawn out, with slower
the end. Then a final slowing and descent onto the trill
C-sharp indicated by Brahms, which moves smoothly onto the
D to end the cadenza. The last bar of the cadenza (m.
the trill) corresponds to m. 526 in Brahms’s score--the grand
the “six four” chord was m. 525.
20:01 [m. 527]--The
strings, horns and bassoons gently enters as the soloist
slides out of
the cadenza, playing an extremely lovely, almost transfigured
of Theme 1, harmonized by the orchestra. The theme is
reaching very high in the solo violin. Other wind
enter, and the clarinet, then the oboe, provide counterpoint
high solo violin. All of this is directly derived from
1. There is a turn to G major.
21:03 [m. 548]--A soft
call leads to a passage of winding triplets from the solo
at a very soft level. The orchestra provides a
soft, held chords.
21:13 [m. 552]--The
call is again heard as the music makes its final turn back to
major. The winding triplets begin again in the solo
instrument. These are mixed with straight rhythms,
rapidly increasing in volume and more gradually increasing in
speed. Two more louder horn calls are heard. The
after reaching quite high, has a loud, cascading arpeggio.
21:28 [m. 559]--Brahms
the final passage animato.
soloist plays double stops beginning off the beat that are
reminiscent of Theme 1. The horn calls continue with
from the other wind instruments. The orchestral strings
steady march. These elements increase even more in
intensity before coming together on a sharp chord. Three
sharp, detached chords and a final held chord punctuated by a
close the movement.
22:00--END OF MOVEMENT [571
Adagio (Ternary form). F MAJOR, 2/4 time.
A Section--F major
0:00 [m. 1]--A third
bassoons and an octave from horns lead into the long melody
by the principal oboe. Its opening descent is the main
of the melody, as is a long-short-short rhythm. The
not play at all. The accompaniment comes from the other
instruments (flutes, clarinets, bassoons, and horns).
major period of the melody ends with a bridge from the second
1:05 [m. 15]--The
oboe begins the melody anew, breaking into a variation.
continue to be the only accompaniment to the melody.
1:39 [m. 21]--The oboe
series of extending gestures with ascending arpeggios from
then horn and clarinet. Finally, the principal flute
with a lightly syncopated answering phrase before the winds
closed opening section. The orchestral strings
enter under the last chords.
2:26 [m. 32]--As the
with a last chord, the solo violin makes its entrance.
It plays a
highly decorated variant of the oboe melody, with soaring
The accompaniment is now primarily from the orchestral
wind instruments providing occasional isolated echoing
interjections. The solo violin becomes increasingly
suggesting a motion to D minor as the horns, then flutes enter
echoing calls. The soloist eventually settles on the new
key of C
major with a trill.
3:30 [m. 46]--Transition.
cadence on C major is interrupted by the winds, who abruptly
on the unexpected key of G-flat, a half-step above the main
F. The material is from the end of the first section of
melody (before 1:05 [m. 15]). The winds descend, then
respond. The soloist then comes in with another highly
phrase, still in G-flat. The strings, then winds, play
ascending bridge to the B
3:59 [m. 52]--G-flat
same note as F-sharp. Major shifts to minor with a
notation. The solo violin plays a passionate, decorative
descending line that only gradually settles into the minor
The orchestral strings, with syncopated interjections from the
then take over from the soloist as the music swells in
becomes broader, with an emphatic cadence in F-sharp
material is derived from the main melody.
4:21 [m. 56]--The
an extremely expressive descending line, with accompaniment
orchestral strings. The solo instrument then leaps high
descending again. The orchestral violins incorporate
4:41 [m. 60]--The
breaks into triplet rhythms. The winds play descending
derived from the main theme. The violin emerges into a
ascending filigree before a brief pause.
5:03 [m. 64]--Beginning
upbeat, the soloist begins an even more decorative passage
incorporates leaps, turns, and triplet rhythms, still in
minor. The orchestral strings provide an accompaniment
syncopations and triplet rhythms. The winds are
here. At the end of the passage, the soloist leads a
turn back to
the major mode on F-sharp.
5:28 [m. 69]--Re-transition.
soloist, with its continuing decorative lines, leads a dynamic
passage that gradually moves back to the home key. The
strings accompany with the descending lines from the main
After departing from F-sharp, the low strings gradually slide
up to F
major through minor keys on B, C, and D. The solo violin
5:58 [m. 75]--The
reaches the highest note as F major arrives. The
horns have unobtrusively entered. Over oscillations in
strings, the soloist descends, leading back into the return of
A' Section--F major
6:17 [m. 78]--The main
presented, again from the oboe with wind accompaniment.
time, the solo violin provides oscillating decorations.
melody is briefly passed to the violin and its version as the
orchestral strings enter. The melody then returns to the
the orchestral strings drop out. It largely follows the
of the opening except for the changes in scoring and the
from the soloist. At the bridge passage ending the first
period, the strings again enter briefly before the winds take
again. The horn takes the last bridging notes as the
plays an ascending arpeggio as a lead-in.
7:15 [m. 91]--The
over in a new extension that is extremely expressive and even
breathtaking, with great emotional intensity. It is
played with a
highly melodious counterpoint from the horn. The
strings provide an accompaniment of dramatic plucked ascending
arpeggios. As the soloist again reaches florid heights,
orchestra unexpectedly drops out. The soloist plays a
8:01 [m. 101]--The
re-enters with the original closing extension of the main
The violin continues its decorations with ascending arpeggios
triplet rhythm, then isolated two-note off-beat ascents.
than one cello phrase heard as the oboe enters, the orchestral
are again absent.
8:31 [m. 107]--The
except horns, drop out as the solo violin takes over from the
oboe. With accompaniment from the orchestral strings,
brings the melody to its close, as before 2:26 [m. 32].
bassoons and horns enter unobtrusively from the wind section,
entire passage otherwise being transferred to strings.
9:04 [m. 113]--Flutes
clarinets join the bassoons, horns, and low strings on a
dissonance. Only the oboes (perhaps ironically) are
The solo violin descends, then rises in an arpeggio before a
descent in a closing tag The instruments resolve onto
F-major chord, where the oboes join them. The strings
isolated descending notes of the melody’s original close.
9:41--END OF MOVEMENT [116
Movement: Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo vivace--Poco più
(Rondo form). D MAJOR, 2/4 time, with two 3/4
RONDO THEME (A)
0:00 [m. 1]--The
Rondo theme is played by the solo violin in double stops (with
accented four-note rolled chord). The orchestral strings
accompany with arpeggios in triplet rhythm as well as marching
alternation between low and higher strings. The theme
peasant dance with its “stamping” persistence. The end
main phrase makes a turn to the related key of B minor.
into the next statement, the orchestral violins and violas
out as the theme is given to the wind instruments. The
play fast triplet rhythms with repeated notes. The low
and timpani add punctuation. The solo violin enters at
with a descending scale run to lead into the next passage.
0:24 [m. 17]--In a
“bridge” passage, the solo violin plays a variant of the theme
begins in B minor, following the cadence of the main phrase in
key. It then spins the theme out with development in
thirds and sixths. The strings provide a marching
while flute and oboe play a jaunty countermelody, later joined
clarinet and bassoon. The soloist’s figures develop into
arpeggios in double notes, moving steadily back to D major
insistently ominous bass.
0:38 [m. 27]--Again,
soloist drops out and the full orchestra gives the theme its
presentation, led by the strings, the winds providing swaying
accompaniment figures. In addition to adding some
“hemiola” (implied 3/8 bars against the prevailing 2/4 meter),
orchestra not only extends the cadence by one bar, but avoids
motion to B minor for a triumphant, affirming arrival on D.
0:49 [m. 35]--Transition.
with the orchestra’s cadence, the violin enters
immediately with arching triplet arpeggios. The
isolated two-chord upbeat gestures from the flute/oboe
the bridge passage from 0:24 [m. 17]. The violin
more fluid and connected as the winds, then horns drop out.
1:00 [m. 43]--Transition,
The violin’s figures develop into downward leaps to
repeated notes. The accompanying orchestral gestures
two-note upbeat pattern, but they become faster and are passed
the string instruments. Motion to A major. The
plays a long, winding series of scales against punctuating
chords. The scales become louder and faster, leaping
rapid ascents before arching down to an emphatic arrival as
FIRST CONTRASTING THEME (B)--A
and F-sharp minor
1:19 [m. 57]--The
with ascending double-stop scales in dotted rhythm from the
soloist. The low strings and bassoons respond to this by
reversing the scales in a descending line. The soloist
with the theme, which has a prominent syncopated leap, then
to soar very high, still incorporating the dotted
orchestra has strong tremolo
shakes in the upper strings and downward leaping octaves in
strings. The soloist breaks into ascending arpeggios
chromatic (non-key) notes, then rapidly descends.
1:42 [m. 73]--The
takes the theme, the low strings and bassoons playing the
former ascending dotted rhythm, the violins responding with
descent. The timpani begins a long roll, and there are
chords. As the orchestra continues, the soloist adds
ascending interjections with double and triple stops.
orchestra turns the ascending dotted theme to the related
F-sharp, where it breaks into two-note ascents, then a strong
whose emphatic repetitions lead back to the main Rondo Theme
in D major.
RONDO THEME (A’)
2:11 [m. 93]--The
makes an artful turn back to D major in the reiterations of
preceding cadence. The Rondo Theme slides in under these
reiterations, then the soloist’s presentation is as at the
2:22 [m. 101]--The
response begins as before, but quickly takes a detour with
passed between strings and winds. The music turns to
related key (the “subdominant”), G major.
2:33 [m. 108]--In a
to the Second Contrasting Theme, the flutes, clarinets, and
play fragments from the opening of the Rondo Theme in G
The solo violin plays ascending arpeggios against this in
rhythm (in groups of six). The fragments are passed to
orchestral strings, and the soloist breaks into long arching
still in groups of six notes up and then down. The
down, leading into the contrasting theme.
SECOND CONTRASTING THEME (C)--G
3/4 and 2/4 time.
2:53 [m. 120]--The
changes to 3/4. The soloist leads a new tune that is
like a more
pastoral dance. The strings provide light
The soloist breaks into light, very tender and gentle
3:03 [m. 124]--The
briefly changes back to 2/4 for a brief insertion of the Rondo
fragments from 2:33 [m. 108], entering abruptly in a new key,
major. Strings play the fragments, winds and the soloist
alternate on the arpeggios (the winds play them in “straight”
against the fragments). There is further motion from B
major to E
3:09 [m. 128]--Back in
meter, the oboe plays the pastoral dance tune in E major while
soloist adds a decorating counterpoint. The horns play
accompanying harmonies. There is yet another harmonic
down to C major, where the flute and clarinet play the
against continuing solo violin decorations. The soloist
into the light, gentle syncopations heard before, and they are
3:28 [m. 136]--The
plays an expressive new phrase in minor. It is G minor,
music has moved back to the main key center of this central
section. The new phrase is immediately repeated an
before a brief extension. The orchestra, which has
accompaniment to this melancholy phrase, breaks in with
accented, detached notes.
3:46 [m. 143]--The
abruptly shifts back to 2/4 time. The soloist
into the ending of the transition from before the First
Theme (the long, winding series of scales over punctuating
chords). The passage is altered at the end, where the
descents are inverted and are now rapid descents. The
ambiguous in key, but settles back in G major.
FIRST CONTRASTING THEME (B’)--G
and B minor
3:56 [m. 150]--Unexpectedly,
First Contrasting Theme is reprised without another return of
Rondo Theme. It is in G major, the main key of the
contrasting section. It is scored as in its first
with the soloist in double-stop octaves, playing in dotted
low strings and bassoons responding with descending
than key, there are no major differences from 1:19 [m. 57].
4:19 [m. 166]--Orchestral
largely as at 1:42 [m. 73], with the same interjections from
the soloist. There is a slight extension after this, so
two-note ascents are not in the expected key of E minor (which
have been analogous to the previous relationship), but in B
minor key most closely related to the home key of D
emphatic cadence with its repetitions is sidestepped by
descents in groups of six notes from the solo violin.
the music in a new direction.
4:48 [m. 187]--Re-transition.
another unexpected return, the music of the “bridge” passage
0:24 [m. 17] returns. That passage had begun in B minor,
the music has now moved as well. It begins as an exact
but is altered after four bars and greatly extended. The
countermelody is passed to the violins, the marching
clarinets and bassoons. The soloist’s figures move away
double stops, but the arpeggios become wider and more
Motion to the home key of D major.
RONDO THEME (A”)
5:10 [m. 203]--Climactic
triumphant arrival of the Rondo Theme, played by the full
orchestra. It has a great effect due to its relatively
absence. The arrival is similar to that at 0:38 [m. 27],
scoring is very different. The winds now play the main
material, while the strings play the original ascending
arpeggios. The “hemiola” from the previous passage is
included. The music moves in the same direction before
extended at length, with new double-stop arpeggios from the
soloist and a greater buildup of intensity over a detour to G
back. The cadence seems even more emphatic due to this
but it is interrupted.
5:38 [m. 222]--The
arrival is interrupted by a pause. The soloist then
enters with a
rhapsodic passage in rich harmony, using multiple stops.
like a cadenza, but the violins, then the other strings
enter after four bars. The soloist moves to triplet
this, creating a clash with the strings in straight
oboe and horns now enter unobtrusively with syncopations,
the other winds. The soloist then breaks from the
rapid arpeggios and trills.
6:00 [m. 236]--Under a
trill from the soloist, the strings hesitantly play upbeat
the Rondo Theme. The soloist’s trills and arpeggios
do the tentative Rondo Theme entrances from the strings and
syncopations from the winds. Finally, the soloist’s
had been on the same note (E), move up chromatically (by
6:14 [m. 245]--The
clarinets, intertwining with the strings, play music
reminiscent of the
First Contrasting Theme, with the ascending dotted
two more long trills, the soloist joins in this derivative
well. Then, the soloist moves again to rapid figuration
of six while the orchestral strings play Rondo Theme
6:29 [m. 255]--The
playing with great intensity, returns to the Rondo Theme
accompanied by thumping timpani, punctuating horns in octaves,
long held note in the low strings. The winds enter
with a chord, then the strings join on a much louder one,
coming to a pause. This loud chord is the “six-four”
a cadenza, and the soloist plays a very brief unmeasured
the pause, largely a series of descending arpeggios reaching
before slowing down in preparation for the coda.
CODA--Poco più presto
6:58 [m. 267]--In a
tempo, the music essentially moves to a joyously swinging 6/8
meter. It continues to be notated in 2/4 with triplets
certain passages in the straight rhythm. The clarinet
bassoon, later the flute and oboe, play rapid turns. The
and low strings provide a solid bass. Then the soloist
with a transformed version of the Rondo Theme using the
6/8) rhythm. The orchestral violins then also play the
turns. The full orchestra enters with a loud
7:08 [m. 279]--The
again plays the transformed Rondo Theme, now an octave higher,
the established accompaniment. The theme is extended and
intensified, fully exploiting the swing of the triplet
The full orchestra again interjects. The strings move in
to two mildly dissonant notes, providing a lead-in to the next
7:20 [m. 293]--Beginning
an upbeat, this passage is derived from the First Contrasting
Theme. The soloist plays a version of the dotted ascents
continuous notes in “straight” rhythm, breaking the triplet
motion. The winds play descents in dotted rhythm.
descents are heard against the soloist’s ascents, rather than
responding to them. The orchestral strings continue the
turn figures, which begin to be the unifying element of the
These turn figures finally end, moving to slower chords as the
begins a prominent doubling of the main notes in the soloist’s
7:31 [m. 304]--The
6/8) rhythm is again established by the soloist, who moves
the contrasting material, and the accompaniment with the turn
is again established. The full orchestra interjects as
twice before, moving again to mildly dissonant unison
These are extended to four, with winds entering in harmony
7:43 [m. 316]--The
from the First Contrasting Theme is heard again, now in G
major, a key
that has been prominent throughout the movement. The
play the dotted descents, and the turn figure is absent.
soloist leads the way, finally emerging again into the
itself, back in D major.
7:54 [m. 327]--The
now enters powerfully in the triplet (6/8) rhythm, with
on the Rondo Theme. The soloist responds with syncopated
and triple stops, then a rapid ascending scale. This
repeated, but the entry of the winds over a drum roll, with
orchestral strings echoing the syncopations of the soloist,
8:07 [m. 339]--The
reaches a large cadence. The soloist emerges with
the Rondo Theme, still in the triplet rhythm, alternating with
timpani beats. Against this, the winds play a highly
descent in clashing “straight” rhythm. The violins and
hold a prolonged note. Everything becomes gradually
quieter. Brahms naturally slows things by having the
to straight rhythm at the end over plucked low strings and
timpani beats. Then the full orchestra plays three loud
the last one held with a drum roll, ending the movement and
8:28--END OF MOVEMENT [347
END OF CONCERTO
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