VIOLIN SONATA NO. 1 in G MAJOR, OP.
Recording: Itzhak Perlman, violin and Daniel Barenboim, piano
(live performance) [Sony SK 45819]
published sonata for piano and violin is a product of the high
maturity, while the other two are late works. It was
composed in the wake of the Violin
Concerto, one of his largest projects, and indeed was
presented complete to Joseph Joachim while his violinist
friend was still helping him work out the bowings in the
concerto. The chamber work can be seen as a
complementary offering to the concerto, but it has no formal
dedication. It is a sunny, radiant work that has a
relaxed character throughout. The first movement has a
broad 6/4 meter with much potential for rhythmic games such as
cross groupings. The third movement, whose minor key is
unexpected in such a bright piece, explicitly uses material
from the two paired songs Regenlied
and Nachklang from Op. 59, particularly their
accompaniment. It turns out that the material of the
songs, especially the opening rhythm, is the inspiration for
the other two movements as well. The finale also uses
the beautiful main theme of the slow second movement for one
of its contrasting episodes. Brahms did use such cyclic
references to previous movements in other works, such as the
Third Symphony (Op. 90) and the last
string quartet (Op. 67), but this is
the most extensive example. The finale’s turn to the
major key at the end has a magical effect and mitigates the
agitated minor-key character of its main portion. The
three-movement structure (instead of four) was less common for
Brahms in chamber works, and may also reflect the influence of
the concerto. It is nonetheless the longest of the three
violin sonatas in terms of performance time, even though the
third, Op. 108, has four
movements. There were several earlier attempts at a
violin sonata that were destroyed. We know of at least
one in A minor from the 1850s that he considered for his
earliest publications along with the
and the early
songs, but then rejected.
The recording used in this guide was made from a 1989 live
performance in Chicago.
FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut Lübeck)
SCORE FROM IMSLP (First Edition [monochrome] from Berlin
State Library [Staatsbibliothek]--includes violin part)
FROM IMSLP (from Breitkopf & Härtel Sämtliche Werke)
Movement: Vivace ma non troppo (Sonata-Allegro form).
G MAJOR, 6/4 time.
0:16 [m. 1]--(After 15
seconds of applause). Theme 1. The piano plays
long chords lasting half a bar. Against this, the violin
spins out a mezza voce
melody, initially in brief fragments, based on the long-short
(dotted) rhythm of the Regenlied
songs. This develops into a twofold sequence of downward
arching leaps followed by rising scales with many chromatic
notes and half-steps. The piano chords also move to more
colorful harmonies. At the end of the phrase, the violin
scale descends and the piano begins to join it.
0:42 [m. 11]--The
piano and violin begin to play in cross rhythm grouping
fostered by the long 6/4 bars. The piano plays arpeggios
in contrary motion between the hands. They are organized
in two groups per bar (with an added layer of complexity
within each group--two subgroups of three notes each).
The violin plays an arching dotted rhythm arranged in three
groups per bar. This line begins with a strong
suggestion of key of B major, but it eventually moves through
B minor and back to G major. This builds from a very
tranquil beginning to a climax where the violin begins to hold
long descending notes while diminishing.
1:05 [m. 21]--Transition.
violin plays the dotted-rhythm opening gesture of Theme 1
against the continuing piano arpeggios. It then arches
down and up while the piano left hand moves in the opposite
direction. The piano then takes over the Theme 1 gesture
and downward arch. The violin continues with the music
of Theme 1 while the piano plays with the characteristic
descending figures heard at the theme’s opening. This
builds to another climax.
1:15 [m. 25]--The
“downward arching” leaps from Theme 1 are used at the climax
in both instruments. They are then spun out toward a
descending violin arpeggio. The piano then quiets,
taking over the Theme 1 gestures, echoed by left hand rhythms
reminiscent of the accompaniment from the Regenlied songs.
The violin now plays long double-stops reminiscent of the
piano’s opening long chords. This passage moves to the
“dominant” key of D major. Syncopated octaves in the
piano right hand lead to the second theme.
1:42 [m. 36]--Theme
2. While it still uses the dotted rhythm, it is more
lyrical and less hesitant, with all beats filled out with
notes. The violin presents it, with downward-winding
arpeggios in the piano. The violin plays the four-bar
melody twice, the second time an octave higher and doubled by
the piano’s top voice. In the last bar of each
statement, the piano has a 3x2 cross-rhythm grouping or hemiola (D major).
2:01 [m. 44]--The
second part of Theme 2 is more striving and aggressive, with
strong syncopations and sweeping piano arpeggios. It
builds in two waves to the climactic phrase, which is itself
organized into two more waves separated by a piano
punctuation. The second of these soars upward and
descends. Under a longer violin note, punctuating piano
chords rapidly diminish in volume after this climax.
2:25 [m. 55]--A
reminiscence of Theme 1, with shorter repeated chords in the
piano, dies down and reaches a cadence in D major.
2:41 [m. 60]--Closing
material. The violin plays an isolated note right after
the cadence and then the piano unexpectedly takes up a new
theme in chords in the key of B major (heard briefly in Theme
1), played in the middle range. The violin imitates this
tune a fifth higher. Then the piano takes it to the
higher range, with the bass trailing. Both instruments
become very quiet.
2:52 [m. 64]--The
piano bass isolates a rhythmic fragment of the tune, and the
right hand imitates it in octaves, accompanied by rapid octave
oscillations in the violin. This happens twice.
The piano bass begins a third statement, but in the imitation,
the piano right hand and violin are reversed so that the piano
right hand is playing the oscillation. There are two
more statements of this pattern, but the left hand fragment
moves up to a higher range and the right hand oscillations
move down by a half-step in the last one. Finally,
things slow down, the thematic fragment moves to the piano
right hand, and the left hand takes the oscillations down low
under two long violin notes. This passage has moved the
music to A major.
3:09 [m. 70]--It turns
out that A major is a “dominant” leading back to D major, the
key of Theme 2, where the exposition should end. The
violin plays a light, graceful line based on the closing
melody. The piano bass harmonizes this while the right
hand plays close harmonies after the beat. Then the
piano right hand takes over the graceful melody, the violin
moving to the off-beat syncopation.
3:19 [m. 74]--The
violin again takes the graceful tune, expanding it with a
downward sweeping line. The right hand off-beat chords
are now active, with the notes in parallel motion over an
oscillating bass. There is a mid-range piano line
against the violin’s sweeping line. Finally, the piano
takes the melody again, and now both instruments participate
in the off-beat chords. An ascent in chords from the
piano is followed by a similar one from the violin, the
instruments again exchanging the off-beat chords. The
violin line is expanded farther upward, reaching very high as
the piano’s off-beat chords move steadily downward and the
bass settles on a repeated D. At the very end, the key
is wrenched back to the home key of G major with two low piano
chords resembling the opening
3:38 [m. 82]--The
first six bars of Theme 1 are reprised in the home key with
slightly different scoring. The long chords are now plucked by the violin,
supported by the piano bass. The piano plays the actual
theme, largely in octaves.
3:53 [m. 88]--There is
now a divergence from the original Theme 1. The scales
are extended, adding some arpeggios. The violin abandons
the plucked chords and plays in harmony with the piano,
sometimes moving in the same direction, sometimes the opposite
direction. The piano bass retains the dotted rhythm.
4:10 [m. 95]--After
the violin breaks a bit, it plays two four-note descents that
go against the main rhythm. The piano closely imitates
these one beat later. The violin abandons these
descents, but the piano plays a third one. The violin
line is now freer, but matches the groupings of the piano
descents, whose top notes shift up a half-step for three more
statements. Finally, the violin has three
four-note descents (the last of which shifts downward) against
a free piano line over a low bass note. A syncopated
violin descent ends the passage, which has shifted the music
up to A-flat major.
4:19 [m. 99]--A
statement of Theme 1 begins in A-flat. The piano plays
bass octaves with the chords coming after them on weak
beats. After the first four bars, the piano imitates the
two preceding violin bars and sequences them upwards twice
against mildly dissonant violin chords, suggesting F
minor. The violin then takes the figures again and moves
them upward again twice, now reaching quite high and
suggesting D-flat major (both keys closely related to A-flat
major). The music slows and builds.
4:40 [m. 107]--The
downward leaping figure from Theme 1 and the following scales
provide the material for a highly dynamic and powerful
passage. After a loud bass chord in A-flat minor, the
piano right hand begins to play scales and arpeggios in rapid
triplet rhythm. The violin plays scales against this in
straight rhythm, as does the piano right hand in octaves when
the triplet arpeggios move to the left hand. At this
point, the piano right hand and violin emerge into the
imitative four-note descents from 4:10 [m. 95].
4:47 [m. 110]--Similar
passages follow, first in B minor, than in A minor, and
finally in G minor. All begin with the downward-leaping
figure and a scale in triplet rhythm. In the B-minor and
G-minor passages, the violin takes the triplet rhythm (along
with the piano bass in the B-minor). In the intervening
A-minor passage, the piano right hand begins the triplet
rhythm. When the violin has the triplets, the piano
right hand has straight rhythm, and vice versa. The
B-minor and A-minor passages are short, only two bars, while
the G-minor one is extended to four bars and emerges into the
imitative four-note descents (expanded from three to four
statements). The last piano descent devolves into a
string of half-steps at the end.
5:05 [m. 118]--The
dynamic music continues, now using the arching dotted-rhythm
figure from 0:42 [m. 11]. The piano imitates the violin
on this figure while the bass plays another sweeping line
derived from it. The strength builds even more and the
music arrives on E minor (relative minor to the home key of
5:15 [m. 123]-- The
violin, in a forceful downward motion, alternates dotted
rhythms with an upward-leaping piano right hand and an arching
left hand. The piano then takes over the “forceful
downward motion” in B minor, and the upward leaps move to the
left hand, the violin soaring up to double-stops.
5:24 [m. 127]--Suddenly,
the ascending line that ended the exposition is heard in the
piano bass octaves against an active, highly syncopated right
hand. The violin then enters on the same highly
syncopated music, and the ascending line is transferred to the
right hand, now in chords. Finally, the ascending line
moves to the violin, where it is given two statements.
The right hand has the strongly syncopated music again and the
left hand has long descents. The music shifts to E-flat
5:33 [m. 131]--The
violin has two more ascents that are more halting, including
repeated notes. Under these, the syncopated lines break
up and become more regular. Finally, the violin itself
has a hemiola on
repeated notes implying a 3/2 bar superimposed on the 6/4
meter, which is also supported by the interjecting piano
figures. The music arrives in the home minor key, G
5:40 [m. 135]--The
music suddenly recedes at the G-minor cadence. The tune
fragment from 2:52 [m. 64], the downward-turning dotted
rhythm, is the substance of a meditative passage. The
fragment is passed between the piano bass and the violin four
times, with detached chord and single-note alternations from
the right hand played against the violin statements.
Finally, the piano bass has two more isolated statements that
are not answered by the violin, which plays longer
notes. There are short right-hand interjections on
5:56 [m. 140]--The
piano plays the familiar long chords and the violin plays the
opening fragment of Theme 1 in G minor. There is then
another series of alternations on the downward-turning dotted
rhythm, this time led by the violin and passed to the piano
bass. The right hand again plays the skittish detached
figures. After three alternations, a violin statement of
the downward turn reverses and moves upward, holding long
notes over two final low statements of the rhythm from the
piano bass similar to those heard before m. 140 with the short
6:18 [m. 148]--Re-transition.
minor has now been in force for some time, which means that
the emergence of major, rather than the typical
“dominant-tonic” motion, will herald the recapitulation.
The opening fragment of Theme 1 is heard again in that key,
but this time it is repeated and extended with a dreamy
downward-arching motion over the familiar Regenlied dotted rhythm
in the piano bass. This arching motion is repeated in a
warm shift to an A-major chord. Two more descending
fragments are heard as the piano bass moves down to a low D
(the “dominant” note). Finally, six violin statements of
the earlier four-note descents from 4:10 [m. 95] over a slowly
oscillating mid-range piano motion and a syncopated top piano
line slow down and lead directly into the recapitulation.
6:43 [m. 156]--Theme 1
begins without the opening dotted rhythm and chords. The
piano chords under this first bar are mildly dissonant,
continuing the dreamy mood of the end of the
development. In the second bar, the original chords are
restored and the theme proceeds as at the beginning of the
sonata., differing only with a slightly higher-reaching right
hand at the very end of the nine-bar unit.
7:05 [m. 165]--The
cross-rhythm passage with the arching dotted rhythm in the
violin and the contrary-motion arpeggios in the piano from
0:42 [m. 11] is repeated exactly up until the climax with the
high violin notes in m. 172 (corresponding to m. 18).
The climax is abbreviated by one bar and does not
diminish. A scalar descent in the violin leads directly
to Theme 2, skipping the entire long transition passage.
7:28 [m. 174]--Theme
2, in the home key of G major. There are two statements,
as at 1:42 [m. 36], but the piano accompaniment is entirely
different. The left hand has upward arpeggios and the
right hand has smooth descending lines. The 3x2 hemiola is preserved with
four-note descents at the end of the first statement. In
the second statement, the violin does not move an octave
higher, and the piano does not double it until halfway
through. The left hand arpeggios become wider. The
piano gradually resumes the original accompaniment so that the
hemiola at the end of
the second statement is as it was in the exposition.
7:46 [m. 182]--The
“striving, aggressive” portion of Theme 2 is nearly exactly
analogous to 2:01 [m. 44]. Because the setting in G
major is at a higher pitch, the climax seams to soar even more
8:10 [m. 193]--Reminiscence
of Theme 1 and G-major cadence, analogous to 2:25 [m. 55].
8:26 [m. 198]--Closing
material. Piano and violin alternations of the new
oscillating theme heard as at 2:41 [m. 60], now in the
analogous key of E major.
8:36 [m. 202]--Isolation
of the tune fragment with alternation and rapid octave
oscillations. The entire passage is analogous to 2:52
[m. 64], and arrives on D major as the “dominant” of the home
key, G major.
8:54 [m. 208]--Light,
graceful violin line with piano harmonies after the beat, as
at 3:09 [m. 70]. The piano right hand takes over, as
9:04 [m. 212]--Expansion
of the graceful tune and final ascents, as at 3:19 [m.
74]. Here, there are some register shifts from the
exposition. The violin begins its first statement of the
graceful tune down an octave so that its reach to the
“downward sweeping line” is wider. Also, in the final
violin ascents, the instrument drops down to begin at a lower
level so that its final arrival (analogously on C major) is
actually (and unexpectedly) lower than in the exposition.
9:21 [m. 219]--The
final arrival on C-major is averted by four pairs of dissonant
“diminished” chords in the piano’s low and middle range, quite
unlike the pure G-major chords at the end of the
exposition. Over the second, third and fourth pairs, the
violin leaps up, then widely down and then back up again to a
pitch a half-step lower than the first “arrival” note.
9:33 [m. 223]--The
entire coda builds very slowly to the brilliant ending.
The opening fragment of Theme 1 is given over short piano
chords. There then follow ascents similar to those at
the end of the exposition and recapitulation. The piano
plays “oscillating” motion under these. The theme
fragment and ascents are given again, with new harmonies that
briefly move to A minor and back. The ascents soar quite
high. Four long violin notes leap down, up, and back
down as the piano moves to arpeggios in groups of three
reminiscent of 0:42 [m. 11]. These ascend under the
first three long notes, then turn and descend with a strongly
ascending bass as the violin becomes more active and descends
to the highly fulfilling arrival point.
10:02 [m. 235]--This
satisfying arrival point uses the music from 0:42 [m. 11], now
combining the piano arpeggios in groups of three with a joyous
version of the arching dotted rhythm. Two strong motions
to a cadence are followed by a long ascent to the top
note. The piano left hand first plays longer, solid bass
notes, then joins in the piano arpeggios in its original
10:12 [m. 240]--The
final flourish first has the violin descending in two-note
groups against sharp piano chords alternating between the left
and right hands. Then the violin breaks into a
descending arpeggio in triplet rhythm. The piano takes
up the triplets and reverses direction as the violin moves to
straight rhythm. The two instruments play the final
cadence together with three powerful chords, the first two
detached and the last one held.
10:28--END OF MOVEMENT [243
Movement: Adagio--Più andante--Adagio come prima (Ternary
form with large coda). E-FLAT MAJOR, 2/4 time.
0:00 [m. 1]--Beginning
with a long upbeat, the piano alone presents the main theme in
harmonies dominated by sonorous sixths, occasionally filled in
to complete full chords. It is a melody set off by its
initial gentle descending gesture. The left hand, after
an opening long low octave, plays wide-ranging
arpeggios. The syncopations in the third bar help to
stretch the first phrase out to five bars instead of four.
0:23 [m. 6]--The
second phrase of the theme shifts the harmony to the
“dominant” key of B-flat. It ends with the opening
gesture in that key, and is a regular four bars, creating a
larger period of nine bars.
0:43 [m. 10]--At a
much quieter level, the violin makes its first entrance with
hesitant syncopated figures. The piano figuration moves
to a higher register and low octaves emerge in the bass.
The music shifts back to E-flat, but it is the minor version
of that key, and full cadences are avoided. The violin
figures emerge into a confident melody moving to a
1:02 [m. 14]--The
half-cadence is repeated in the piano. The violin melody
gains in confidence and is spun out more, reaching high and
descending on more forceful syncopated notes. The low
bass piano octaves emerge in full as the upper figuration
remains in the middle range. The music remains in E-flat
1:19 [m. 18]--After a
pause, the violin now plays the opening gesture of the main
theme and shifts to the major key. It then works out
this gesture as both it and the piano gradually build.
The top of the piano line emerges as a countermelody for the
first time. Brahms builds tension by delaying the full
cadence on E-flat, which does eventually arrive.
1:50 [m. 25]--As the
piano bass reaches its cadence, the violin drops out, and
without warning, the piano emerges into quiet full chords that
are again in E-flat minor,
not major. The new tempo marking indicates a somewhat
faster speed, but the marking mezza voce implies that it should still be
subdued. The rhythm is the long-short dotted rhythm
(this time with rests before the short chords) associated with
The chords make a progression in E-flat minor and then repeat
it with minimal variation in the upper harmonies, but none in
the lower bass octaves. The repetition begins to rapidly
2:03 [m. 29]--Suddenly,
a louder level, there are two large leaps in octaves that
suggest a move to C-flat major. The second one brings
the octaves between the hands closer together, but the notes
(G-flat and C-flat) are the same. A third leap, with the
bass again lower, changes C-flat to its equivalent note B, and
Brahms changes the key signature from three flats to two
sharps. The violin enters after its long rest, playing a
passionate fragment above the piano, whose leaps have emerged
into full chords in B major.
2:12 [m. 32]--Suddnly
quiet, low chords in the dotted rhythm introduce an
expressive, winding melody with many half-steps. The
violin plays the melody, but the piano accompaniment also
shadows some of its outlines in the right hand, playing
leaping figures in the dotted rhythm with the left. The
volume rapidly increases and the piano speeds up, playing
broken octaves in triplets and then plunging downward in a
2:25 [m. 37]--The
violin, at full volume and now in B minor, plays the formerly
secretive dotted rhythm heard at the beginning of the B section from the piano
alone. It now sounds martial and defiant. The
piano accompanies the violin with chords, while its left hand
loosely imitates the rising dotted-rhythm.
2:35 [m. 41]--As at
2:03 [m. 29], the three large leaps follow. The scoring
and octave placement is similar. It seems at first that
there will be an analogous motion to G major from B minor, but
the expected G major on the third leap is thwarted
harmonically and diverted instead toward D minor. The
“passionate fragment” soars further upward to emphasize this
2:43 [m. 44]--In a
darker version of the expressive, winding melody from 2:12 [m.
32], the piano right hand has the main melody while the piano
bass combines figures
from the melody with the dotted rhythm. The violin, in a
low register, also combines these elements in alternation with
the piano bass. At the intensification, the violin
speeds up even more rapidly than the piano had done and
emerges into the plunging arpeggio formerly taken by the
2:56 [m. 49]--The key
signature changes back to three flats. The piano seems
to begin the martial version of the dotted rhythm again in D
minor, and the violin begins to imitate the piano bass (in a
reversal of 2:25 [m. 37]. This time, however, the
imitation remains strict and the dotted rhythm begins to move
upward in sequences. At its peak, the imitation breaks
and the violin begins to play leaping octaves. The piano
has thick chords over plunging bass octaves. The music
moves to a huge arrival on an A-major chord.
3:16 [m. 57]--At the
A-major chord, the violin and piano right hand break off and
the left hand, suddenly quiet, plays slowly rising arpeggios
in the dotted rhythm (the right hand takes over as they move
upward). The A-major chord is followed by similar
arpeggios on a B-flat major harmony. Against these, in
double-stops, the violin begins to hesitantly hint at the main
theme of the A
3:26 [m. 61]--In a
continuation of the motion upward by half-steps in the
arpeggios, the next one is on C-flat major. It is
repeated three times, but the second one adds a foreign note
in the middle, and the third one changes C-flat to C,
resulting in a dissonant and tension-filled
“diminished-seventh” chord that includes the new “foreign”
note (A-natural). The fragments of the main theme
continue in the violin double stops, but they are then
shortened. There is a slowing and a diminishing of
volume over the last dissonant arpeggio. The violin
simply holds its last double stop without moving, and there is
an extremely intense pause.
3:46 [m. 68]--The
dissonant violin double-stop at the pause slides into an
E-flat major chord, where the main theme seems filled with
consolation upon its return after the tense and dark B section. The
violin now plays the main theme in warmly harmonious double
stops while the piano provides a new undulating accompaniment
in triplet rhythm. The piano bass still plays the wide
arpeggios, clashing with the triplets in a two-against-three
4:06 [m. 73]--Second
phrase of the theme from 0:23 [m. 6]. As before, it
moves to B-flat. The violin continues its double stops,
the piano its decorative accompaniment and clashing
two-against-three rhythm. The phrase ends with a
descending B-flat piano arpeggio in the triplet rhythm.
4:23 [m. 77]--The
violin plays the quiet hesitant syncopated figures, as it had
at 0:43 [m. 10]. The difference is in the piano
accompaniment, which is still playing the florid triplet
motion. The same low octaves emerge in the bass.
As before, the music moves to E-flat minor and to a
4:41 [m. 81]--The
half-cadence is repeated in the piano in a brief break from
the constant triplets of the right hand. The violin
melody gains confidence and builds, as at 1:02 [m. 14].
New syncopation is introduced in the flowing piano triplet
rhythm. The bass octaves are as before.
4:57 [m. 85]--Return
of the opening gesture of the main theme, as at 1:19 [m.
18]. The piano is still playing the triplets in the
right hand, at first with irregular groupings that cross bar
lines, continuing the syncopated effect from the previous
passage. The countermelody is embedded in the flowing
triplets. There is a building, with a delay of the
cadence in E-flat, as in the first A section.
Coda (B’ Section)
5:27 [m. 92]--The coda
uses elements of the B
section. The ominous dotted rhythm in the piano that
began that section emerges out of A’ in the same way as it had before at 1:50
[m. 25], with the major difference that it does not shift
instantly to the minor key. The low bass octaves remain
in pure E-flat major, but the supporting chords introduce the
chromatic note D-flat, which creates the necessary
tension. The entire passage is very soft, even softer
than the beginning of the B
5:42 [m. 96]--The
piano now begins a long bass pedal point on E-flat. It
continues constantly in the dotted rhythm, with notes held
across bar lines. Above this, the right hand plays
middle-range chords that do change, but quite slowly.
The right-hand chords introduce more notes in addition to the
D-flat that give the music an inflection toward the minor
key. Above all of this, the violin surreptitiously
enters after its long rest and plays the expressive, winding
melody from 2:12 [m. 32]. The violin departs from the
melody after two sequential phrases, breaking into arching
arpeggios over the piano pedal point and chords.
6:30 [m. 111]--The
E-flat minor at the end of the pedal point pivots to its
related major key, G-flat. The violin, in double stops,
begins a statement of the main theme (from the A section) in that
key. The piano bass moves down and up by
half-steps. The right hand begins to respond to the
violin, and there is a sudden buildup. The main theme in
G-flat breaks and reaches higher. As the buildup reaches
its climax, E-flat major brilliantly emerges again on the
opening figure of the theme.
6:51 [m. 117]--The
violin continues with the main theme in double stops, but it
pauses on a third, diminishes and quiets, and the piano breaks
into sonorous arpeggios. These are played in contrary
motion, and the right hand is harmonized in a “horn fifth”
style. The violin moves down an octave, and both hands
of the piano move up an octave. Here, the “horn fifth”
arpeggios are repeated with the instruments closer
together. The arpeggios continue a bit farther than
before and reach a quiet, warm cadence. Two sighing
reiterations of this cadence, the second with the piano
rising, end the movement in a very peaceful manner.
7:27--END OF MOVEMENT [122
Movement: Allegro molto moderato--Più moderato (Rondo
form). G MINOR/MAJOR, 4/4 time.
0:00 [m. 1]--First
statement of RONDO theme (A).
The first two bars are directly derived from the minor-key Regenlied melody.
The violin plays the melody itself, beginning with the
distinctive dotted-rhythm upbeat. The piano plays an
accompaniment derived from the song, the skittish upward
motion and the winding downward motion. The piano bass
has isolated dotted-rhythm upbeats, and the left hand once
leaps above the steady accompaniment to play them
higher. After the second bar, the melody deviates from
the song, but retains the same quiet, agitated character.
0:10 [m. 5]--The
second phrase is more static at first. It is extended to
five bars by an insertion of a bar with triplets in the
violin. The left hand abandons the dotted upbeats for
low octaves. The phrase moves through A minor to D minor
for a cadence. The piano skips upward in a bridge,
moving back to G minor.
0:22 [m. 10]--A
contrasting phrase brings the rising accompaniment figures in
the piano to the violin, and the instruments alternate on
these figures. The left hand is absent here. The
last two violin statements of the figures are delayed, and the
final one is lengthened, leading into a restatement of the
opening. Under this final lengthened violin figure, the
piano bass enters with the dotted rhythm.
0:33 [m. 14]--The
opening of the theme returns. The first phrase begins as
before, but it is altered in its second half, where it reaches
lower at the end. This places the second phrase at a
lower level, and through artful manipulation, it reaches lower
still, allowing it to remain in G minor for its cadence.
0:54 [m. 23]--The
contrasting phrase from 0:22 [m. 10] is used as a transition
to the first new contrasting theme. It begins higher
than before and is interrupted by a smooth violin descent with
the piano moving to a downward winding line. The rising
figures return, and are again broken by the smooth line.
The downward winding piano line moves to the left hand as the
key moves to D minor.
1:04 [m. 27]--FIRST
CONTRASTING THEME (B).
The theme begins with a sort of anticipation emerging from the
previous passage. The longer dotted rhythms and languid
line in the violin will become characteristic of the
theme. The right hand enters against the continuing left
hand figuration. There is a small swelling and receding
1:09 [m. 29]--The
actual contrasting theme is first stated here. The long
dotted rhythms heard in the “anticipation” now become
genuinely melodic. The piano has short interjections
with low bass notes as an accompaniment, but it does have one
trailing imitation of a turning violin figure in the melody.
1:20 [m. 33]--The
instruments reverse roles in a second statement of the
melody. The piano plays the tune in octaves with
isolated broken octaves in the left hand. These are part
of the “short interjections” in the accompaniment, together
with violin double stops. The violin also takes the
previous piano imitation of the turning figure, still in
double stops. The end of the statement is altered to
prepare for the next part of the melody, into which the violin
leads with a trill.
1:31 [m. 37]--A
contrasting phrase led by the violin is more agitated.
It sweeps down in an arpeggio, then back up. This
happens three times, with a descending two-note
response. The two-note responses then come to the
foreground, heavily accenting their upbeats, creating
syncopation, and moving both up and down. Throughout the
phrase, the piano has the “short interjections,” but they also
now incorporate syncopation and are lengthened and connected
when the two-note violin figures take over.
1:41 [m. 41]--The last
syncopation hesitantly leads into an altered statement of the
phrase from 1:09 [m. 29], with its second half altered to lead
to a full cadence in D minor. The piano accompaniment
and imitation of the turning phrase are largely the same as
before, following the violin in the alterations and cadence.
1:51 [m. 45]--The
instruments reverse roles again for a restatement of the
contrasting phrase from 1:31 [m. 37]. The piano leads in
with an trill, but unlike the violin statement, the piano
statement increases in volume as well as agitation. The
violin accompaniment is mostly in double stops unless it is
joining in the two-note responses. Unlike the violin
statement, this piano statement incorporates triplet rhythms
into the sweeping arpeggios, and the piano bass also includes
rapid triplet arpeggios.
2:02 [m. 49]--For the
restatement of the cadence phrase from 1:41 [m. 41], the
instruments are not reversed. The agitated piano passage
settles down, and the violin takes over, making this phrase a
virtually exact repetition of the previous one leading to the
D-minor cadence. After the cadence, a piano arpeggio
leads directly into the dotted-rhythm upbeat heralding a
return of the Regenlied
2:12 [m. 53]--A
transitional passage brings back the material of the rondo
theme, but it is fragmented. It steadily quiets down and
moves back to the home key of G minor. At the end, the
anticipation for the actual rondo theme has reached a point of
great tension and expectation.
2:35 [m. 61]--Second
full statement of RONDO theme (A).
The first two phrases are given in the same form as at the
beginning, without variation.
2:58 [m. 70]--The
contrasting phrase and the return of the opening are restated
as at 0:22 [m. 10] and 0:33 [m. 14]. The piano
accompaniment following the G-minor cadence turns around and
winds downward, extending the phrase by a bar to lead to the
second contrasting theme. The transition from 0:54 [m.
23] is dispensed with, and the new theme (which turns out to
be an old theme) follows directly.
3:33 [m. 84]--SECOND
CONTRASTING THEME (C).
over the trailing piano descent and moving smoothly, but
directly to E-flat major, the contrasting theme turns out to
be the primary melody from the second movement, complete with violin double
stops! While the piano arrests itself at first, giving
the violin full exposure in this important moment, it
immediately resumes activity (including a syncopated leaping
figure in the bass) under the violin’s continuation, which
becomes more active and superimposes the pervasive dotted
rhythm of this movement onto the reminiscence of the theme
from the previous movement, culminating in a scale descent
that sounds extremely similar to a moment in the later Fourth
3:45 [m. 88]--The
violin again states the new/old melody, now in B-flat major
and without the double stops, over highly syncopated piano
accompaniment. It is now given more extension and spun
out in a dreamy manner before the previous continuation with
dotted rhythm and the scale descent are again heard.
Finally, the tune is given yet again in B-flat major, an
octave higher than before.
4:07 [m. 96]--The
melody is now played with shorter notes in the violin and
broken up by rests. It abruptly begins in a seemingly
remote key, D-flat major, but it turns quickly to that key’s
related minor, B-flat minor, connecting it to the previous
B-flat major. The piano right hand undulates in mostly
thirds and sixths The piano bass plays together with the
isolated fragments of the violin melody, mostly in contrary
4:18 [m. 100]--The
piano has its turn at the “broken up” version of the
melody. It begins in G-flat major, which is related to
D-flat major and B-flat minor. It also makes a minor-key
turn, but much sooner, and it stays on the same home keynote
(notated as F-sharp, not G-flat minor). The right hand
fragments of the melody are harmonized, and the left hand now
has the undulations. Suddenly, the violin enters with
melodic undulations and the piano plays sharp syncopated
chords with moving bass octaves. This passage is
unstable and becomes loud and agitated.
4:28 [m. 104]--The
climax of the preceding passage ends up on E-flat (the home
key of the C
section), but it is a mixture of major and minor. Sharp
octave descents in the piano bass occur with short violin
interjections derived from the melody. The right hand’s
undulations now have a fuller harmony. Another climax is
reached, with major winning out over minor and the violin
playing a fast, downward arching arpeggio to lead into the
upcoming culminating statement of the second movement melody.
4:37 [m. 107]--In the
original E-flat major, the violin plays a very fulfilling
version of the melody in a syncopated version. The piano
plays sweeping arpeggios and rich low bass octaves. As
at the beginning of the section, the melody then incorporates
the dotted rhythm, including the descending scale. Using
some biting chromatic notes and syncopated piano bass
arpeggios, the melody rapidly diminishes in intensity as it
approaches the cadence.
4:56 [m. 113]--Brahms
marked this transition “tranquillo.” The dotted upbeats
typical of the main rondo theme emerge along with their
typical accompaniment and long low bass notes. The key
is still the E-flat major of the C section, but the violin soon slides upward
and the piano follows it with quickly changing harmonies that
move toward a radiant F-sharp major.
5:10 [m. 118]--Another
wave of the transition material begins in G-flat major (a
re-notation of F-sharp). The violin again slides upward
on the dotted upbeats. A rapid buildup and retreat leads
to A-flat major. As the music again starts to die away,
the piano, then the violin play a syncopated descending line
that eases back down to the home key of the movement, G
minor. The end of the violin’s descent suddenly doubles
as a sliding upbeat into the return of the rondo theme.
5:30 [m. 124]--Third
statement of RONDO theme (A’).
The theme begins as before in the violin, but the dotted
rhythm in the low piano bass is shifted from an upbeat to
mid-measure. The left hand does not cross the right on
the second of these, moving only one octave higher. Then
the hand crossing does occur, but the crossing left hand plays
syncopation instead of the dotted rhythm, and the violin
begins to diverge a bit from the original melody. The
end of the phrase reaches downward instead of upward, as it
5:41 [m. 128]--The
second phrase is greatly altered. There are new melodic
turns, and the left hand dotted-rhythm interjections remain in
mid-measure. The right hand does cross here and play the
dotted rhythm. The phrase ends with four four-note
descents, each a half-step lower. These contain several
chromatic notes, which also appear in the piano
accompaniment. The piano bass has heavily syncopated
5:51 [m. 132]--Instead
of a contrasting phrase, the opening of the melody returns
here. The left hand dotted rhythms remain in
mid-measure. This phrase diverges even earlier, reaching
much higher. Again, the left hand crosses over to the
syncopated rhythm, as in the first phrase of this section.
6:01 [m. 136]--The
last phrase of the section now has a more distinct feeling of
closure, although the much anticipated cadence is repeatedly
evaded. The piano bass has very low repetitions of the
keynote, G. Finally, a descending triplet figure leads
to a satisfying cadence in G minor as the music slows down
slightly. The piano, whose upward-skipping accompaniment
figures have remained remarkably consistent through the highly
varied section, skips upward and immediately changes G minor
to G major in its ascent.
6:13 [m. 140]--CODA (A” + C’). Più moderato, G
major. To emphasize the change here, Brahms writes dolcissimo (extremely
sweetly). The material at the beginning is a major-key
transformation of the “contrasting phrase” from the rondo
theme, specifically the version used as a transition at 0:54
[m. 23]. After two bars of this material, the piano, in
its middle range, unexpectedly inserts a richly harmonized
version of the C
theme, or second movement theme. The violin plays wide
figuration over this, and a chord from the C melody is given a
pulsation in slow dotted rhythm.
6:26 [m. 144]--Another
statement of the “contrasting phrase” begins an octave lower,
but the violin very quickly reaches higher than before.
The violin and piano right hand begin a dialogue on a turn
figure derived from the contrasting phrase. The left
hand takes over the familiar accompaniment figures, and there
is a small crescendo
to a minor climax as the violin reaches a top note. This
6:41 [m. 149]--The
violin emerges into the C
melody in double stops with a rippling, undulating piano
accompaniment. Pulsations follow, supported by piano
bass octaves and briefly hinting at E major. This is
followed by a new and highly expressive violin phrase that
slowly arches up and back down.
6:58 [m. 154]--The
pulsations begin again. They are followed again the by
the new expressive phrase, which now reaches higher, is
extended a bar, and descends in a dotted rhythm as the tempo
slows a bit.
7:18 [m. 159]--A
shadow of the rondo theme, the opening dotted rhythm, is
passed between the piano right hand and the violin, the left
hand taking the accompaniment in one final rise and fall in
volume. The last soaring phrase reaches high in the
violin while the piano right hand hesitantly descends over
sweeping left hand arpeggios. The transfigured final
chords are rolled by the piano, with the violin playing double
7:50--END OF MOVEMENT [164
END OF SONATA
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