VIOLIN CONCERTO in D MAJOR, OP. 77
Recording: Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin; Berlin Philharmonic, conducted
by Herbert von Karajan [DG 415 569-2]
Published 1879. Dedicated to
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 special
SCORE FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut Lübeck)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (from Breitkopf &
Härtel Sämtliche Werke):
CADENZA BY JOSEPH JOACHIM (scan by
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 dramatic.
0:31 [m. 17]--Transition.
Full 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 gestures.
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
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
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
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 expected “dominant.”
5:25 [m. 164]--Transition.
In 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
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
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,
7:48 [m. 236]--Somewhat
unexpectedly, 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
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
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
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 Theme.
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
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 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 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
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
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.
The 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 slowly
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 solo exposition.
13:25 [m. 411]--Leaping
oscillations, as at 5:36 [m. 170].
13:39 [m. 419]--Surreptitious
entry 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
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
variant 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 concertos.
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
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
18:09 [m. C31]--Extended
passage 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
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 major/minor.
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.
The 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 the movement.
22:00--END OF MOVEMENT [571 mm. (+81
Movement: 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 chords.
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.
The 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
B Section--F-sharp minor
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
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.
The 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
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
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
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 mm.]
Movement: Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo vivace--Poco più presto
(Rondo form). D MAJOR, 2/4 time, with two 3/4 insertions.
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
0:13 [m.9]--The 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.
Corresponding 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,
continued. 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
FIRST CONTRASTING THEME (B)--A
major 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 strong tremolo
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 descends.
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 major.
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
major, 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
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 notes.
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
major and B minor
3:56 [m. 150]--Unexpectedly,
the 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
response, 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.
In 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 interjection.
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
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
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 major.
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
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
8:28--END OF MOVEMENT [347 mm.]
END OF CONCERTO
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