VIOLIN CONCERTO in D MAJOR, OP. 77
Recording: Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin; Berlin Philharmonic,
conducted by Herbert von Karajan [DG 415 569-2]
Dedicated to Joseph Joachim.
Close on the heels
of the Second Symphony followed
another D-major orchestral work of monumental
proportions. The return to the concerto genre twenty
years after the early First Piano
Concerto was almost as overdue as his production of a first symphony. As in that
genre, another followed surprisingly closely, as the Second Piano Concerto was published
two years later. The great violinist Joseph Joachim was
one of Brahms’s closest friends, and his figure has always
loomed over the work. Brahms, who was not a string player,
turned to Joachim for advice in figuration and other aspects
of the solo part. As far as the actual composition goes,
there are elements of similarity to both piano concertos.
The first movement is on an epic scale. Among his
instrumental movements, only the first movement of Piano Concerto No. 1 is (usually)
longer. Brahms seems to emulate Beethoven to some extent
here, as that composer’s only violin concerto also boasts a
first movement lasting more than twenty minutes with a broad
tempo. The triple time and the general pastoral
character also draw comparisons to the opening movement of his
own recent Second Symphony.
The concerto was originally planned in an unusual four
movements, but he finally settled on a single middle movement,
the rather small but beautiful Adagio we know today. As
he would do with the cello in the slow movement of the Second Piano Concerto, he entrusted
the first presentation of the main theme to another
instrument, in this case the oboe--much to the annoyance of
various virtuoso violinists. The finale has an
unmistakable “gypsy” flavor, a nod to Joachim’s Hungarian
roots. The tempo change at the end again invites
comparison to a similar device at the end of the Second Piano Concerto. For the
only time in all his works, Brahms left part of a piece
indeterminate. Like Beethoven, he composed no solo
cadenza for the first movement, leaving that task (apparently)
to the performer after the standard chord and pause in the
orchestra. Despite the existence of many others, no
cadenza comes close to Joachim’s in emulating the spirit of
the work, and Brahms gave it his approval. In my
opinion, the Joachim cadenza is an integral part of the work’s
identity, and no other should ever be played in
performance. His intimate connection to the piece and
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
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
[Double exposition sonata] form). D MAJOR, 3/4 time.
0:00 [m. 1]--Theme 1:
A noble, but simple arching up and down the chord of D major
in triple time. It is presented by low strings,
bassoons, and horns. The oboes answer this initial
presentation with a new, more harmonically active phrase over
undulating string accompaniment. This becomes quite
0:31 [m. 17]--Transition.
strings and winds enter with a strong, angular unison idea
leading to a syncopated descent. This then breaks into
harmony and builds up to a grand entrance of the entire
orchestra, including trumpets and timpani, for a bold
statement of Theme 1 with shimmering strings. 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:
The promise of a new key is averted by the oboe and horn,
which present the second theme in D major (typical in a
concerto orchestral exposition) after an abrupt cutoff.
It is more stepwise than Theme 1, and somewhat more
melancholy. The violins and flutes take over the theme
with string and horn support, and extend it in quiet, winding
harmonies. These lead into an even quieter descent.
1:42 [m. 61]--Flute,
clarinet, and bassoon descend in a wide four-note arpeggio on
F-sharp and C-sharp. Horns and timpani join them on the
fourth note. The winds then present a winding, flowing
line, which is taken up by violins and violas. This line
turns to minor. There follows a variant of Theme 2 in
the minor key, with its elements split between winds and
strings. It becomes hushed before a bridging bass
2:13 [m. 78]--Closing
Theme in D minor. The strings suddenly erupt into a
powerful, martial idea with prominent dotted (long-short)
rhythms. The violins break into faster, arching notes
under punctuating chords. This merges into a series of
churning descents from the upper strings against heavy
syncopation in the low strings and winds. These propel
the music into the dramatic first entry of the soloist.
2:35 [m. 90]--Over a
timpani roll and a held horn octave, the solo violin enters in
the minor key with a cadenza-like passage that is
improvisatory in nature. Amid detached runs and
arpeggios with double-stops are fragments of Theme 1.
The orchestral strings provide isolated interjections of the
martial Closing Theme. After incorporating several
rhythms, the soloist then strives upward with shorter
2:57 [m. 102]--Against
an orchestral chord, the soloist breaks into a series of
downward arching arpeggios in groups of six. The music
quiets down, and the soloist widens the arpeggios to two beats
in irregular groups of five notes. At this point, the
oboe enters with a descending line, which is taken over by the
clarinet and bassoon. The drum roll continues, but the
horns now hold a third instead of an octave.
3:17 [m. 112]--The
soloist’s arpeggios are now detached and in regular groups of
four, still arching over two beats. The flute enters
with a line reminiscent of Theme 1. This is taken over
by the bassoon as the solo violin arpeggios become smooth
again. There is a turn back to the major key.
3:34 [m. 120]--The
orchestral strings gently enter with suggestions of Theme 1 as
the winds hold notes and the drum roll continues. The
solo violin finally abandons its arpeggios in favor of an
oscillating motion that gradually moves downward with the
orchestral strings. It eventually slows down to winding
triplets (groups of three) as the timpani roll finally
ends. The low strings, then the orchestral violins,
slowly arch upward.
3:52 [m. 128]--The
winds drop out and the orchestral strings hold a soft
chord. The solo violin winds downward, moving from
triplets to groups of four. It finally begins a steady
upward scale that includes many chromatic half-steps.
This scale leaps down an octave twice before finally reaching
its high point. Brahms indicates a slowing here (rit.). The soloist
lingers on an arpeggio before leading into a sustained
trill. This trill marks the end of the improvisatory
introductory section of the solo exposition.
4:19 [m. 136]--Theme
1. The soloist presents it with light accompaniment,
including arching viola arpeggios. After the initial
phrase, the soloist delays the continuation of the theme with
another indulgence in leisurely scales and trills, including
passages in triplet rhythm, over a soft string background.
5:02 [m. 152]--Theme 1
is finally allowed to continue. The orchestral strings,
first the 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 over this. They are quite high and angular,
again including scales arpeggios, and some triplet
rhythm. The phrase is extended slightly, shifting the
last part upward, suggesting a change of key to A, the
5:25 [m. 164]--Transition.
a passage similar in character to the unison at 0:31 [m. 17],
the soloist plays angry chords in triple stops (three-string
chords). The top note of these chords (E) remains
constant until the final ascent. Below this, the low
strings play the leaping octaves of the earlier unison idea.
5:36 [m. 170]--The
soloist breaks into leaping oscillations that gradually move
down and back up. The strings continue the unison leaps
of the transition. They break off after a loud chord,
leaving the soloist to gradually reach back up. The
triumphant statement of 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 surreptitiously enter with the second theme. It
is now in the new “dominant” key (A major). The
soloist’s arpeggios slow down to a triplet rhythm, winding
down and back up. The orchestral violins take over Theme
2 from the flutes. This follows the pattern of 1:09 [m.
41], with the extension and very quiet, winding harmonies and
descent, but now doubled by a flute and decorated with the
leaping triplets, now in octaves and fifths, of the violin.
6:26 [m. 198]--The
wind instruments play their wide four-note descent, as at 1:42
[m. 61], now on C-sharp and G-sharp. The winding,
flowing line from the winds is taken over by the soloist
instead of the orchestral strings and without the turn to
minor. The minor-key variant of Theme 2 is skipped.
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 beautifully emerges out of the winding,
flowing line. It features languid 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
slow-moving wind chords and plucked (pizzicato) arpeggios from the orchestral
strings. The orchestral violins (bowed, not plucked)
begin the “winding, flowing line” against the soloist’s leaps,
which are now somewhat syncopated, reaching across bar lines.
6:58 [m. 214]--The
orchestral violins take over Theme 3, the soloist adding
decorations before it again leads with the wide leaps.
These again become mildly syncopated and are now significantly
extended as the winds drop out and the plucked string
background is reduced to isolated notes. The soloist
then breaks into even wider, higher leaps as the winds
re-enter and the music turns to the minor key (A minor).
Finally, the soloist is isolated in a chromatic descent that
is closed by a slow, turning gesture.
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 the
orchestral exposition and was cut off here by the entry of
Theme 3. The soloist joins in presenting the elements of
that variant with double stops. All of Theme 3 can now
be seen as a wholesale insertion. There is the same
hushed, bridging bass descent.
8:09 [m. 246]--Closing
Theme, now presented by the soloist in triple stops (in A
minor). The orchestral strings join in right before the
long, arching descent, also now taken by the soloist, as are
the following short “churning” descents. The orchestral
strings provide light, but syncopated accompaniment.
8:33 [m. 260]--The
winds loudly enter, and the soloist briefly drops out.
The low strings take over the “churning” descents. The
winds then drop out and the soloist adds a new ascending,
syncopated chromatic line in octave double stops against the
continuing “churning,” now passed to the orchestral
8:43 [m. 266]--The
strings break into punctuating chords as the soloist merges
into two large descents in triplets. The soloist then
reaches very high for a final rapid descending scale as the
winds enter with an unstable, sustained chord. The
soloist turns around and rushes upward, leaping down once
before continuing, demanding a response from the orchestra.
8:56 [m. 272]--The
soloist drops out as the “solo exposition” ends. The
orchestra, complete with a timpani roll, responds to the
previous passage with two emphatic chords and a passionate
minor-key outburst of Theme 1 (the key is still A
minor). It is developed with syncopation, arching
arpeggios and triplet rhythms. The winds, joined by
strings, provide punctuations based on the Closing
9:11 [m. 280]--The
music turns to C major, the related major key to A minor, for
a further statement of this “passionate” Theme 1
variant. The punctuations based on the Closing Theme are
heard again, and are extremely emphatic.
9:25 [m. 288]--The
orchestral violins joyously develop Theme 3 in C major,
complete with the accompanying plucked arpeggios. They
alternate with the winds, who play the variant of Theme 2
initially heard before the closing Theme, now in major.
Both ideas are heard twice in alternation. The second
statement of Theme 3 is an octave lower and quieter. On
its second statement, the Theme 2 variant turns back to the
minor key, its “natural” home, now limited to soft clarinets
and bassoons, joined by low strings.
9:55 [m. 304]--The
solo violin makes its first entry in the development. It
continues the minor-key variant of Theme 2 in C minor.
It breaks into double stops as the orchestral strings provide
a syncopated background with slow-moving and repeated
notes. The passage is filled with quiet intensity.
10:12 [m. 312]--In a
passage marked “tranquillo,” still in C minor, the wind
instruments pass a descending line derived from the Theme 2
variant, beginning with the oboe and moving to bassoon and
clarinet. The soloist begins a continuous rhythm of
short-short-long figures beginning on upbeats. These
move mostly by step, but there are shifts in register.
The short notes often turn under the preceding long note and
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
downward leap happens before the violin line jumps high again
and gradually works down, all in the same continuous
rhythm. It then works its way up twice more. The
descending line derived from the Theme 2 variant is now in the
orchestral strings. These strings die away, leaving the
soloist to continue the short-short-long groups alone for two
bars, culminating in a descending arpeggio.
10:55 [m. 332]--Still
in C minor, the solo violin begins a long ascending broken
chord, sustaining a trill throughout the ascent (the
neighboring trill notes are carefully indicated). The
orchestral strings incorporate the short-short-long rhythm
under this. Fast arching arpeggios in groups of six
begin after the ascending trill. The strings reach a
large cadence in C minor.
11:10 [m. 340]--The
soloist drops out as the full orchestra begins a development
of the short-short-long figure. Finally, the music moves
away from C minor. The short-short-long figures become
more static, and the music seems to have slid up to C-sharp
minor, but a loud chord of A minor from the winds diverts this
as the short-short-long figures finally end.
11:25 [m. 348]--The
A-minor chord is quietly repeated. The soloist begins a
series of wide two-note leaps slurred and bowed across bar
lines. These work down and back up five times.
They vaguely suggest Theme 3. There is light
accompaniment from strings and bassoons. The violins,
low strings, and bassoons play leaps resembling the
transition. The violas play pulsating triplets.
The entire passage works from A minor back to the home key of
D. After the fifth descent and ascent from the soloist
(reaching the highest notes), there is a final descent
anticipating the arrival on D, which is delayed.
11:49 [m. 361]--The
soloist plays the martial rhythm of the Closing Theme in
octaves. The strings all play in thick tremolo.
As the winds enter, the solo violin’s octaves shift to music
from Theme 1 that resembles the soloist’s initial
improvisatory passage. The alternation of these two
elements happens a second time. This 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
continue, as does a drum roll. Horns and other winds
imitate the soloist’s large leap. The solo violin itself
repeats the large octave leap, then continues the descending
“churning” figures. The strings, timpani, and most winds
drop out as the soloist begins a wide sweeping descent and
ascent culminating in a high sustained note. At that
point, the winds begin a winding line that slows slightly over
a powerful crescendo and timpani roll. The solo violin
12:27 [m. 381]--Theme
1, presented triumphantly from the full orchestra including
trumpets. The orchestra enters suddenly after the
preceding crescendo. The winds and brass mainly present
the theme, the strings remaining in tremolo with arching motion from the
violins. After the initial phrase, there is a brief
pause, then an echo with plucked strings and
winds. The following violin bridge is much
abbreviated from the scales and trills before 5:02 [m. 152]
and now with wind and plucked string background.
12:50 [m. 393]--Continuation
of Theme 1. The phrase initially presented by the oboes
is presented a fourth higher than in either exposition, partly
as a result of the previous shorter bridge. This allows
Brahms to continue the music in the pattern of the solo
exposition at 5:02 [m. 152] while remaining in the home
key. There are some changes. The high solo violin
presents the first part of the phrase with clarinet and
orchestral violins. The horns now play the continuation
that had been played by violas and cellos. Over this,
the flute takes the first part of the original decorations,
which the soloist takes over after two bars.
13:14 [m. 405]--Transition,
as at 5:25 [m. 164]. The top note of the triple stops is
A instead of E. The register has shifted, so the music
is now a fifth lower (rather than a fourth higher) than the
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
play it instead of the flutes as the soloist continues the
arpeggios and breaks into triplets. After the orchestral
violins take over, the flute and oboe enter, doubling
them. Perhaps in “compensation,” the flute does not
double the violins on the extension. They hold a note
with the oboe and horns over the descent of quiet, winding
harmonies. Because of what follows, this extension is
two bars 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 have been expected on its pitches there at
1:42 [m. 61]--F-sharp and C-sharp. Instead, they enter
two bars earlier than in the solo exposition on the unexpected
notes G and D. Not only that, but they are condensed to
two bars by much shorter, unequal notes. There follows a
quiet, ominous two bars over a timpani roll with an added
octave of G-D wind descent.
14:21 [m. 441]--Because
of the altered wind descent, the key is unexpectedly shifted
for the winding, flowing line. It is now in F-sharp
major, where Theme 3 will be heard. The winds do not
play it this time, as it is passed from the orchestral strings
(under a held wind chord) to the solo violin.
14:29 [m. 445]--Theme
3, as at 6:41 [m. 206]. For variety, Brahms sets the
solo portion in the key of F-sharp major, rather than
remaining in the home key, as would be expected.
14:45 [m. 453]--Theme
3 is taken over by the orchestral violins, as at 6:58 [m.
214]. The solo violin briefly drops out here. This
is because the statement is extended in a sort of “restart”
with a dramatic turn to the home key of D major on a higher
entry. After the home key is re-established, the music
follows as before, with the wide leaps from the soloist (who
re-enters), the turn to the minor key, and the isolated
chromatic descent with a slow, closing turn figure from the
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
Theme, as at 8:09 [m. 246], but in the home minor key (D
minor), as in the orchestral exposition at 2:13 [m. 78].
The patterns and continuations are as in the solo exposition.
16:25 [m. 501]--Entry
of the winds, “churning” descents in the orchestral strings,
and new syncopated octave double stops in the solo violin, as
at 8:33 [m. 260].
16:35 [m. 507]--As at
8:43 [m. 266], the soloist breaks into two descents in
triplets. The following high leap, descent, and ascent
is similar, but with somewhat different figuration and
divisions of notes and two interrupting descending leaps in
the middle of the “ascent” rather than one. As before,
it demands an orchestral response.
16:47 [m. 513]--The
orchestral response is not like the beginning of the
Development section, but rather a reference to the triumphant
statement of Theme 1 from the orchestral exposition after 0:31
[m. 17]. It turns abruptly to the key of B-flat
major. The passage is abbreviated, moving back to D
major and coming to a grand pause on the chord (the so-called
“six-four”) that traditionally signaled the soloist’s
“improvised” cadenza [m. 525]. This conventional,
established device is not used in Brahms’s other three
CADENZA by Joseph Joachim (approved by Brahms)--measure
numbers are preceded by “C.”
17:13 [m. C1]--Arching
arpeggios, octave double stops and triplet rhythms are used in
an initial reference to Theme 1. This then breaks into
the smooth, wide leaps with held lower notes that are familiar
from Theme 3, also incorporating double stops and
counterpoint. This builds in volume.
17:34 [m. C13]--Strong
dotted rhythms in double stops derived from the Closing
Theme. These leap up and back down, then become almost
playful before quieting down, settling on G major.
17:50 [m. C22]--A
smooth, expressive passage with double stop sixths and
thirds. It slows down and turns to the related minor key
of G major, E minor. The passage is derived from the
music at 9:55 [m. 304] in the Development section.
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
to D minor. The intensity builds. Triple stops
begin to be used on every “long” note, with strong
accents. There is a suggestion of a motion to the
related key of F major.
18:36 [m. C43]--Rapid,
oscillating arpeggios incorporating double stops, beginning in
F major and moving to G minor.
18:49 [m. C53]--The
motion is arrested with winding, melancholy lines. These
initially incorporate double and triple stops. They then
move to A minor as the violin reaches high. A faster
flourish is interrupted, then hesitantly repeated.
19:05 [m. C61]--The
preceding flourish is developed into a passage of rapid, but
quiet motion. Motion back to the home key of D
19:13 [m. C68]--A long
series of trills, initially leaping down three octaves then
back up two. The trills then move up
chromatically. Leaping figures enter in counterpoint to
the trill on other strings. The culmination is in a long
trill on the note E. A long trill normally signifies the
end of the cadenza, but this trill is not on the note
designated by Brahms (not Joachim), which is C-sharp.
19:29 [m. C75]--The
final passage of the cadenza is quite serene. Winding
triplets expand to groups of four notes in a descent.
There are then two scale ascents, the second one longer and
more drawn out, with slower notes at the end. Then a
final slowing and descent onto the trill on C-sharp indicated
by Brahms, which moves smoothly onto the home keynote D to end
the cadenza. The last bar of the cadenza (m. C82, with
the trill) corresponds to m. 526 in Brahms’s score--the grand
pause on the “six four” chord was m. 525.
20:01 [m. 527]--The
orchestral strings, horns and bassoons gently enters as the
soloist slides out of the cadenza, playing an extremely
lovely, almost transfigured version of Theme 1, harmonized by
the orchestra. The theme is extended, reaching very high
in the solo violin. Other wind instruments enter, and
the clarinet, then the oboe, provide counterpoint to the high
solo violin. All of this is directly derived from Theme
1. There is a turn to G major.
21:03 [m. 548]--A soft
horn call leads to a passage of winding triplets from the solo
violin, still at a very soft level. The orchestra
provides a background of soft, held chords.
21:13 [m. 552]--The
soft horn call is again heard as the music makes its final
turn back to D major. The winding triplets begin again
in the solo instrument. These are mixed with straight
rhythms, suddenly and rapidly increasing in volume and more
gradually increasing in speed. Two more louder horn
calls are heard. The soloist, after reaching quite high,
has a loud, cascading arpeggio.
21:28 [m. 559]--Brahms
marks the final passage animato.
soloist plays double stops beginning off the beat that are
reminiscent of Theme 1. The horn calls continue with
wide ascents from the other wind instruments. The
orchestral strings begin a steady march. These elements
increase even more in volume and intensity before coming
together on a sharp chord. Three more sharp, detached
chords and a final held chord punctuated by a drum roll close
22:00--END OF MOVEMENT [571
mm. (+81 cadenza mm.)]
Adagio (Ternary form). F MAJOR, 2/4 time.
A Section--F major
0:00 [m. 1]--A third
from the bassoons and an octave from horns lead into the long
melody presented by the principal oboe. Its opening
descent is the main hallmark of the melody, as is a
long-short-short rhythm. The strings do not play at
all. The accompaniment comes from the other wind
instruments (flutes, clarinets, bassoons, and horns).
The first major period of the melody ends with a bridge from
the second oboe.
1:05 [m. 15]--The
principal oboe begins the melody anew, breaking into a
variation. The winds continue to be the only
accompaniment to the melody.
1:39 [m. 21]--The oboe
begins a series of extending gestures with ascending arpeggios
from bassoon, then horn and clarinet. Finally, the
principal flute responds with a lightly syncopated answering
phrase before the winds end the closed opening section.
The orchestral strings unobtrusively enter under the last
2:26 [m. 32]--As the
winds end with a last chord, the solo violin makes its
entrance. It plays a highly decorated variant of the
oboe melody, with soaring lines. The accompaniment is
now primarily from the orchestral strings, the wind
instruments providing occasional isolated echoing
interjections. The solo violin becomes increasingly
chromatic, suggesting a motion to D minor as the horns, then
flutes enter with 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
enter on the unexpected key of G-flat, a half-step above the
main key of F. The material is from the end of the first
section of the oboe melody (before 1:05 [m. 15]). The
winds descend, then the strings respond. The soloist
then comes in with another highly decorated phrase, still in
G-flat. The strings, then winds, play the ascending
bridge to the B
3:59 [m. 52]--G-flat
is the same note as F-sharp. Major shifts to minor with
a change of notation. The solo violin plays a
passionate, decorative descending line that only gradually
settles into the minor key. The orchestral strings, with
syncopated interjections from the winds, then take over from
the soloist as the music swells in intensity and becomes
broader, with an emphatic cadence in F-sharp minor. The
material is derived from the main melody.
4:21 [m. 56]--The
soloist plays an extremely expressive descending line, with
accompaniment from the orchestral strings. The solo
instrument then leaps high before descending again. The
orchestral violins incorporate triplets in their
4:41 [m. 60]--The
soloist breaks into triplet rhythms. The winds play
descending lines derived from the main theme. The violin
emerges into a faster ascending filigree before a brief pause.
5:03 [m. 64]--Beginning
with an upbeat, the soloist begins an even more decorative
passage that incorporates leaps, turns, and triplet rhythms,
still in F-sharp minor. The orchestral strings provide
an accompaniment with some syncopations and triplet
rhythms. The winds are completely absent 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
orchestral strings accompany with the descending lines from
the main melody. 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 reaches ever higher.
5:58 [m. 75]--The
soloist reaches the highest note as F major arrives. The
bassoons and horns have unobtrusively entered. Over
oscillations in the strings, the soloist descends, leading
back into the return of the main oboe melody.
A' Section--F major
6:17 [m. 78]--The main
theme is presented, again from the oboe with wind
accompaniment. This time, the solo violin provides
oscillating decorations. The melody is briefly passed to
the violin and its version as the orchestral strings
enter. The melody then returns to the oboe and the
orchestral strings drop out. It largely follows the
pattern of the opening except for the changes in scoring and
the decorations from the soloist. At the bridge passage
ending the first major period, the strings again enter briefly
before the winds take over again. The horn takes the
last bridging notes as the soloist plays an ascending arpeggio
as a lead-in.
7:15 [m. 91]--The
soloist takes 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 orchestral strings
provide an accompaniment of dramatic plucked ascending
arpeggios. As the soloist again reaches florid heights,
the orchestra unexpectedly drops out. The soloist plays
a descending line alone.
8:01 [m. 101]--The
oboe re-enters with the original closing extension of the main
theme. The violin continues its decorations with
ascending arpeggios in triplet rhythm, then isolated two-note
off-beat ascents. Other than one cello phrase heard as
the oboe enters, the orchestral strings are again absent.
8:31 [m. 107]--The
winds, except horns, drop out as the solo violin takes over
from the oboe. With accompaniment from the orchestral
strings, the soloist brings the melody to its close, as before
2:26 [m. 32]. Only the bassoons and horns enter
unobtrusively from the wind section, the entire passage
otherwise being transferred to strings.
9:04 [m. 113]--Flutes
and clarinets join the bassoons, horns, and low strings on a
gentle dissonance. Only the oboes (perhaps ironically)
are absent. The solo violin descends, then rises in an
arpeggio before a final high descent in a closing tag
The instruments resolve onto the last F-major chord, where the
oboes join them. The strings echo the isolated
descending notes of the melody’s original close.
9:41--END OF MOVEMENT [116
Movement: Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo vivace--Poco più
presto (Rondo form). D MAJOR, 2/4 time, with two 3/4
RONDO THEME (A)
0:00 [m. 1]--The
gypsy-inspired Rondo theme is played by the solo violin in
double stops (with one 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 resembles a peasant dance with its
“stamping” persistence. The end of the main phrase makes
a turn to the related key of B minor. Leading into the
next statement, the orchestral violins and violas play a
soloist drops out as the theme is given to the wind
instruments. The strings play fast triplet rhythms with
repeated notes. The low strings and timpani add
punctuation. The solo violin enters at the end with a
descending scale run to lead into the next passage.
0:24 [m. 17]--In a
sort of “bridge” passage, the solo violin plays a variant of
the theme that begins in B minor, following the cadence of the
main phrase in that key. It then spins the theme out
with development in parallel thirds and sixths. The
strings provide a marching accompaniment, while flute and oboe
play a jaunty countermelody, later joined by clarinet and
bassoon. The soloist’s figures develop into arching
arpeggios in double notes, moving steadily back to D major
against an insistently ominous bass.
0:38 [m. 27]--Again,
the soloist drops out and the full orchestra gives the theme
its grandest presentation, led by the strings, the winds
providing swaying accompaniment figures. In addition to
adding some syncopation and “hemiola” (implied 3/8 bars
against the prevailing 2/4 meter), the orchestra not only
extends the cadence by one bar, but avoids the 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 orchestra plays
isolated two-chord upbeat gestures from the flute/oboe
countermelody in the bridge passage from 0:24 [m. 17].
The violin arpeggios become 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 retain the
two-note upbeat pattern, but they become faster and are passed
between the string instruments. Motion to A major.
The violin then plays a long, winding series of scales against
punctuating plucked chords. The scales become louder and
faster, leaping down to rapid ascents before arching down to
an emphatic arrival as the winds enter again.
FIRST CONTRASTING THEME (B)--A
and F-sharp minor
1:19 [m. 57]--The
theme begins 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 continues with the theme, which has a
prominent syncopated leap, then continues to soar very high,
still incorporating the dotted rhythm. The orchestra has
shakes in the upper strings and downward leaping octaves in
the lower strings. The soloist breaks into ascending
arpeggios using chromatic (non-key) notes, then rapidly
1:42 [m. 73]--The
orchestra takes the theme, the low strings and bassoons
playing the soloist’s former ascending dotted rhythm, the
violins responding with the descent. The timpani begins
a long roll, and there are loud wind chords. As the
orchestra continues, the soloist adds prominent ascending
interjections with double and triple stops. The
orchestra turns the ascending dotted theme to the related
minor key, F-sharp, where it breaks into two-note ascents,
then a strong cadence whose emphatic repetitions lead back to
the main Rondo Theme in D major.
RONDO THEME (A’)
2:11 [m. 93]--The
orchestra makes an artful turn back to D major in the
reiterations of the preceding cadence. The Rondo Theme
slides in under these reiterations, then the soloist’s
presentation is as at the opening.
2:22 [m. 101]--The
orchestral response begins as before, but quickly takes a
detour with fragments passed between strings and winds.
The music turns to another related key (the “subdominant”), G
2:33 [m. 108]--In a
transition to the Second Contrasting Theme, the flutes,
clarinets, and bassoons play fragments from the opening of the
Rondo Theme in G major. The solo violin plays ascending
arpeggios against this in triplet rhythm (in groups of
six). The fragments are passed to the orchestral
strings, and the soloist breaks into long arching arpeggios,
still in groups of six notes up and then down. The
arpeggios slow down, leading into the contrasting theme.
SECOND CONTRASTING THEME (C)--G
3/4 and 2/4 time.
2:53 [m. 120]--The
meter changes to 3/4. The soloist leads a new tune that
is like a more pastoral dance. The strings provide light
accompaniment. The soloist breaks into light, very
tender and gentle syncopation.
3:03 [m. 124]--The
meter briefly changes back to 2/4 for a brief insertion of the
Rondo Theme fragments from 2:33 [m. 108], entering abruptly in
a new key, B major. Strings play the fragments, winds
and the soloist alternate on the arpeggios (the winds play
them in “straight” rhythm against the fragments). There
is further motion from B major to E major.
3:09 [m. 128]--Back in
3/4 meter, the oboe plays the pastoral dance tune in E major
while the soloist adds a decorating counterpoint. The
horns play accompanying harmonies. There is yet another
harmonic motion, down to C major, where the flute and clarinet
play the pastoral dance against continuing solo violin
decorations. The soloist emerges into the light, gentle
syncopations heard before, and they are extended.
3:28 [m. 136]--The
soloist plays an expressive new phrase in minor. It is G
minor, so the music has moved back to the main key center of
this central section. The new phrase is immediately
repeated an octave lower before a brief extension. The
orchestra, which has provided light accompaniment to this
melancholy phrase, breaks in with sharply accented, detached
3:46 [m. 143]--The
music abruptly shifts back to 2/4 time. The soloist
unexpectedly merges into the ending of the transition from
before the First Contrasting Theme (the long, winding series
of scales over punctuating plucked chords). The passage
is altered at the end, where the rapid descents are inverted
and are now rapid descents. The passage is 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
the Rondo Theme. It is in G major, the main key of the
second contrasting section. It is scored as in its first
appearance, with the soloist in double-stop octaves, playing
in dotted rhythm, the low strings and bassoons responding with
descending motion. Other 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
that the two-note ascents are not in the expected key of E
minor (which would have been analogous to the previous
relationship), but in B minor, the minor key most closely
related to the home key of D major. The emphatic cadence
with its repetitions is sidestepped by interrupting descents
in groups of six notes from the solo violin. These lead
the music in a new direction.
4:48 [m. 187]--Re-transition.
another unexpected return, the music of the “bridge” passage
from 0:24 [m. 17] returns. That passage had begun in B
minor, where the music has now moved as well. It begins
as an exact return, but is altered after four bars and greatly
extended. The jaunty countermelody is passed to the
violins, the marching accompaniment to clarinets and
bassoons. The soloist’s figures move away from double
stops, but the arpeggios become wider and more emphatic.
Motion to the home key of D major.
RONDO THEME (A”)
5:10 [m. 203]--Climactic
and triumphant arrival of the Rondo Theme, played by the full
orchestra. It has a great effect due to its relatively
long absence. The arrival is similar to that at 0:38 [m.
27], but the scoring is very different. The winds now
play the main theme 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 it is extended at length, with new
double-stop arpeggios from the “invading” soloist and a
greater buildup of intensity over a detour to G major and
back. The cadence seems even more emphatic due to this
extension, but it is interrupted.
5:38 [m. 222]--The
expected arrival is interrupted by a pause. The soloist
then enters with a rhapsodic passage in rich harmony, using
multiple stops. It is like a cadenza, but the violins,
then the other strings surreptitiously enter after four
bars. The soloist moves to triplet rhythm over this,
creating a clash with the strings in straight rhythm.
The oboe and horns now enter unobtrusively with syncopations,
followed by the other winds. The soloist then breaks
from the rhapsody into rapid arpeggios and trills.
6:00 [m. 236]--Under a
long trill from the soloist, the strings hesitantly play
upbeat figures from the Rondo Theme. The soloist’s
trills and arpeggios continue, as do the tentative Rondo Theme
entrances from the strings and syncopations from the
winds. Finally, the soloist’s trills, which had been on
the same note (E), move up chromatically (by half-step).
6:14 [m. 245]--The
flutes and clarinets, intertwining with the strings, play
music reminiscent of the First Contrasting Theme, with the
ascending dotted rhythm. After two more long trills, the
soloist joins in this derivative music as well. Then,
the soloist moves again to rapid figuration in groups of six
while the orchestral strings play Rondo Theme fragments.
6:29 [m. 255]--The
soloist, playing with great intensity, returns to the Rondo
Theme material, only accompanied by thumping timpani,
punctuating horns in octaves, and a long held note in the low
strings. The winds enter unobtrusively with a chord,
then the strings join on a much louder one, everything coming
to a pause. This loud chord is the “six-four” heard
before a cadenza, and the soloist plays a very brief
unmeasured cadenza after the pause, largely a series of
descending arpeggios reaching ever lower before slowing down
in preparation for the coda.
CODA--Poco più presto
6:58 [m. 267]--In a
faster tempo, the music essentially moves to a joyously
swinging 6/8 meter. It continues to be notated in 2/4
with triplets because of certain passages in the straight
rhythm. The clarinet and bassoon, later the flute and
oboe, play rapid turns. The timpani and low strings
provide a solid bass. Then the soloist enters with a
transformed version of the Rondo Theme using the triplet (or
6/8) rhythm. The orchestral violins then also play the
rapid turns. The full orchestra enters with a loud
7:08 [m. 279]--The
soloist again plays the transformed Rondo Theme, now an octave
higher, against the established accompaniment. The theme
is extended and intensified, fully exploiting the swing of the
triplet groups. The full orchestra again
interjects. The strings move in unison to two mildly
dissonant notes, providing a lead-in to the next passage.
7:20 [m. 293]--Beginning
with an upbeat, this passage is derived from the First
Contrasting Theme. The soloist plays a version of the
dotted ascents with continuous notes in “straight” rhythm,
breaking the triplet (or “6/8”) motion. The winds play
descents in dotted rhythm. The descents are heard
against the soloist’s ascents, rather than responding to
them. The orchestral strings continue the rapid turn
figures, which begin to be the unifying element of the
coda. These turn figures finally end, moving to slower
chords as the oboe begins a prominent doubling of the main
notes in the soloist’s continuing figuration.
7:31 [m. 304]--The
triplet (or 6/8) rhythm is again established by the soloist,
who moves away from the contrasting material, and the
accompaniment with the turn figures is again
established. The full orchestra interjects as it had
twice before, moving again to mildly dissonant unison
notes. These are extended to four, with winds entering
in harmony above the last two.
7:43 [m. 316]--The
material from the First Contrasting Theme is heard again, now
in G major, a key that has been prominent throughout the
movement. The strings now play the dotted descents, and
the turn figure is absent. The soloist leads the way,
finally emerging again into the triplets by itself, back in D
7:54 [m. 327]--The
orchestra now enters powerfully in the triplet (6/8) rhythm,
with descents based on the Rondo Theme. The soloist
responds with syncopated double and triple stops, then a rapid
ascending scale. This pattern is repeated, but the entry
of the winds over a drum roll, with the orchestral strings
echoing the syncopations of the soloist, delays the rapid
8:07 [m. 339]--The
orchestra reaches a large cadence. The soloist emerges
with fragments of the Rondo Theme, still in the triplet
rhythm, alternating with the timpani beats. Against
this, the winds play a highly chromatic descent in clashing
“straight” rhythm. The violins and cellos hold a
prolonged note. Everything becomes gradually
quieter. Brahms naturally slows things by having the
soloist move to straight rhythm at the end over plucked low
strings and isolated timpani beats. Then the full
orchestra plays three loud chords, the last one held with a
drum roll, ending the movement and the concerto.
8:28--END OF MOVEMENT [347
END OF CONCERTO
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