STRING QUINTET NO. 1 in F MAJOR, OP. 88
Recording: Amadeus Quartet (Norbert Brainin, 1st Violin;
Nissel, 2nd violin; Peter Schidlof, viola; Martin Lovett,
Cecil Aronowitz, 2nd Viola [DG 419 875-2]
The string quintet was
the last mainstream chamber music genre to which Brahms
contributed. An earlier abortive attempt to write a quintet with
two cellos (the “Schubert” quintet ensemble) eventually led to the
Piano Quintet, Op. 34. When again embarking on a string quintet
in the spring of 1882, he opted for the more common “Mozart” ensemble
of two violins, two violas, and cello. After straining his medium
in the three string quartets, the quintet allowed him more freedom
along the lines of the earlier sextets that preceded them. The
F-major quintet is a special work in many ways. It is the only
chamber work outside of the sonatas for solo instrument and piano that
is in three movements instead of four. The extremely complex
structure of the second movement, which combines the functions of slow
movement and scherzo, reaches back to the composer’s early years.
The movement uses as its source material two of a series of neo-baroque
keyboard dances that he wrote in the 1850s but never published,
specifically a sarabande and a gavotte, both in A major. They are
completely translated into the string idiom. A similar structure
on a smaller scale would later be used in the A-major Violin Sonata
(Op. 100), a work that, like this one, has a brief finale. The
first movement is gloriously melodious and pastoral while presenting a
tightly argued form. The combination of fugue and sonata form
used in the finale seems directly inspired by the finale of Beethoven’s
third “Rasumovsky” Quartet (Op. 59, No. 3). Another prominent
feature of this satisfying but rarely performed work is the ubiquitous
use of an unusual secondary key, A major, in all three movements.
The second themes of the outer movements are both in this key (not the
expected “dominant,” but the “mediant” to F major), as well as the
contrasting sections of the second movement. That movement even
ends in A major instead of its nominal “home” key of C-sharp (which
vacillates between major and minor throughout the slower
sections). The finale is often criticized as being too brief to
balance the other two movements, but Brahms tended steadily toward
short finales in his later chamber music.
SCORE FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut
Movement: Allegro non troppo ma con brio (Sonata-Allegro form). F
MAJOR, 4/4 time.
0:00 [m. 1]--Theme 1. All
instruments except second violin begin with an extremely pastoral tune,
richly harmonized between first violin and first viola. The open
fifths in the cello and second viola add to the pastoral flavor.
At the second phrase, the second violin enters, presenting the tune an
octave higher. The end of this phrase takes a harmonic detour
toward D major.
0:17 [m. 9]--A contrasting
phrase begins in D major, again without second violin. That
instrument enters after two bars, again an octave above the first
violin. The music then begins to build, with scale fragments and
off-beat accents. The syncopation in all instruments becomes
quite heavy as the key moves back to F major. The main tune then
emerges at full volume with lush harmony. It is brought to a
0:44 [m. 22]--Transition.
It begins with an echo of the cadence an octave lower. Then the
violins begin to play in detached dotted rhythm (long-short). The
cadence is echoed again, and then the violins, now joined by the second
viola, begin an extended passage of dotted rhythm. First viola
and cello provide solid accompaniment in straight notes. The
instruments arrive at a half-cadence in A major (the key of Theme 2).
0:56 [m. 28]--The second
violin, accompanied by first viola, plays a jaunty phrase in the dotted
rhythm. The rest of the strings join in a powerful
response. The “jaunty phrase” is repeated again a third higher,
on C. The powerful response is extended, breaking into a downward
scale from the violins in dotted rhythm.
1:07 [m. 34]--A somewhat more
static melody begins in A minor, with syncopated accompaniment from the
violas and cello. The pattern of statement and response
continues, with the second “response” being more elaborate. This
minor-key melody is spun out somewhat, becomes quieter, and reaches an
arrival point, but the apparent cadence in A minor is cut off right
before that arrival.
1:34 [m. 46]--Theme 2. An
animated theme played by the first viola in a rocking triplet
rhythm. The second violin and cello are plucked. The first
violin and second viola accompany, the former in faster note values,
the latter with a distinct countermelody. All instruments except
the second violin play in “straight” rhythm clashing with the first
viola’s triplet melody (A major).
1:42 [m. 50]--Halfway through
the tune, the first viola abandons the triplets and the melody becomes
more halting and breathless. The other instruments, all bowed,
accompany together on short groups of two repeated notes. The
volume suddenly rises, and the first viola melody soars toward its
conclusion. The accompanying figures of the other instruments are
less short and less together under this.
1:55 [m. 58]--The first violin
takes over the Theme 2 melody from the first viola, repeating the
opening section with triplets. The second violin plays the
countermelody formerly played by the second viola. The lower
three instruments are all plucked, the violas playing arpeggios and the
cello providing a steady bass.
2:02 [m. 62]--The first violin
continues with the “halting, breathless” portion of Theme 2, but it has
reached higher than the viola statement did. The lower three
instruments play the short repeated notes, but the second violin joins
the first in harmony on the “breathless” music after two bars.
The following smooth, high-reaching lines are extended and become very
quiet, including some echoes of the note B-flat from the “home” key of
F. These lines settle down to the final cadence gestures.
2:20 [m. 73]--The first violin
leads the final cadence gestures (there is no real “closing theme”), in
pure A major. The first gesture is echoed by the violas in
harmony, the cello providing a solid bass. The first violin then
reiterates its cadence an octave lower to close the exposition.
The violas then seem to bring their response up an octave from where it
was, but the harmony shifts and leads back to F major for the repeat of
the exposition. The first violin melody in the transitional bar
[m. 77] confirms this motion.
2:35 [m. 1]---Theme 1, as at
2:51 [m. 9]--Contrasting
phrase, syncopation, return of main melody, and cadence, as at 0:17.
3:18 [m. 22]--Transition.
Echo, dotted rhythm, and half-cadence in A major, as at 0:44.
3:30 [m. 28]--Jaunty phrase
with powerful responses, as at 0:56.
3:41 [m. 34]--Melody and
arrival point in A minor, as at 1:07.
4:07 [m. 46]--Theme 2.
Viola in triplets, as at 1:34.
4:15 [m. 50]--”Halting,
breathless” melody and soaring response, as at 1:42.
4:28 [m. 58]--Theme 2 from
first violin in triplets, as at 1:55.
4:35 [m. 62]--”Halting,
breathless” melody, high-reaching lines, and arrival at cadence
gestures, as at 2:02.
4:53 [m. 73]--Cadence gestures,
as at 2:20. The transitional bars are altered in a second ending
leading to the development. In m. 76, the first violin plays the
modulating response formerly taken by the viola, but the other
instruments are the same. The measure with the violin melody
leading back to the exposition (m. 77) is replaced by the first measure
of the development (which is also counted as m. 77).
5:02 [m. 77]--The development
begins with very quiet, almost mysterious echoes of Theme 1
fragments. These move to C-sharp minor (a prominent key in the
second movement). The violas play the fragments in octaves, and
the other instruments play slow, syncopated chords. These become
more detached, and the second viola passes its line to the cello before
the next section based on the minor-key transition melody.
5:15 [m. 83]--The first violin
begins a statement of the minor-key melody from 1:07 [m. 34] in C-sharp
minor. The other instruments vacillate between a new counterpoint
in fast triplets and straight harmony with the melody. The first
violin itself takes up the triplets as the second violin and viola take
over the melody. The triplets even creep into the cello
part. They make a powerful motion toward G-sharp minor, but this
is arrested by an unexpected “deceptive” shift to E major.
5:26 [m. 89]--The instruments
suddenly become very quiet, and the preceding powerful triplets are
given a brief, but serene moment in E major, led by first viola and
first violin. This does not last, as E major quickly shifts to E
minor, the volume dramatically increases, and the transition melody is
further developed in E minor along with the triplets.
5:37 [m. 95]--A cadence in E
minor is immediately followed by a shift to B minor and further
development of the transition melody and triplets. The
instruments suddenly come together.
5:46 [m. 100]--In a similar
shift to that at 5:26 [m. 89], the harmony moves to G major and the
instruments have another similar “serene” moment led by the first viola
and first violin. This is unexpectedly extended in a change of
key to C major. This is the “dominant” of the home key of F, and
raises expectations that the home key, and the recapitulation, are at
5:59 [m. 106]--The home key of
F does in fact arrive, and the volume dramatically swells. The
violas continue with the fast triplets, but the violins break into
leaping syncopations, expanding into double-stops (harmony with two
strings on one instrument). This music continues to build,
anticipating a huge arrival on Theme 1. This would, however,
result in an unusually brief development section.
6:09 [m. 111]-- Although the
opening melody of Theme 1 does arrive in the home key, there is a huge
diminishing right before this, something that would not be expected at
a recapitulation. Indeed, the development has not ended.
The Theme 1 material, with the second violin on top, has an immediate
response from the first violin and first viola. This response is
on the “jaunty” melody from 0:56 [m. 28] in the transition. A
second statement of Theme 1 material is followed by another response of
the “jaunty” melody that is much more biting and chromatic. The
volume level is very soft in a transitional bar.
6:23 [m. 118]--A third,
minor-tinged statement of the Theme 1 material is given yet another
response from the “jaunty” melody in the “chromatic” version.
This is now further developed and extended, passed from first violin to
first viola to second violin, then back to first viola, and finally
back to first violin. These exchanges are all over a very soft
harmonic background. The harmony is very unstable, moving through
keys on the “flat” side, D-flat, E-flat, and A-flat.
6:34 [m. 124]--The second
violin joins the first violin in harmony on the continuing development
of the “jaunty” melody. The harmony is later joined by the first
viola. There is an extended, gradual, and dramatic
crescendo. The music moves from A-flat to the “dominant” chord of
the home key of F major. This time, there is no doubt that the
recapitulation is coming, as the approach is extremely powerful.
6:43 [m. 129]--Re-transition.
The cello leads a dramatic preparation of Theme 1 beginning on the
“dominant” chord and including minor-key and chromatic tinges.
The other instruments respond to the cello. The tension is built
to the breaking point as the instruments come together in unison, still
with notes from the minor key. Then there are two chromatic
chords that ratchet up the expectation even more, so that the arrival
at the recapitulation is a truly glorious moment.
7:00 [m. 137]--Theme 1.
It is given in a much more full and brilliant presentation than before,
with sonorous triplet fifths in the cello and second viola and full
doubling in sixths of the melody from both violins, the first viola
providing additional harmonies in triplets. The second violin
part becomes more independent after two bars, but the rich scoring
7:15 [m. 145]--The full, rich
scoring with low fifths in triplets continues through the contrasting
phrase beginning in D major.
7:26 [m. 150]--Transition.
The heavy syncopation from the end of Theme 1 and the dotted rhythms
from the beginning of the transition are combined and
abbreviated. The restatement of the main melody and full cadence
are skipped. The passage is short, but intense, and ends up where
it began, in F major. The dotted rhythms are heard mainly from
second violin and first viola.
7:39 [m. 157]--The “jaunty”
melody from the transition at 0:56 [m. 28], which had such a large role
in the development section, now begins as it had in the exposition, but
in F major instead of A. This portion, however, is also
abbreviated. The “powerful response” is extended by a bar, but
then the second statement of the “jaunty” melody is completely skipped,
and the music emerges into the “downward scale” in dotted rhythm from
the violins, now with new syncopations in the first viola.
7:47 [m. 161]--The “static”
melody from 1:07 [m. 34] begins, and is surprisingly in the “wrong”
key. Since Brahms had avoided the cadence of Theme 1 in F major
in order to have part of the transition appear there, and since the
home key normally dominates in the recapitulation, the setting of this
melody in the “relative” minor key (D minor) instead of the “home”
minor key (F minor) is unexpected. The passage itself is
unabbreviated from the exposition, and the only changes are in
scoring. At the opening, the second violin and first viola
reverse their parts from before, for example, as do the second viola
and cello. At the end, an expected cadence in D minor is cut off,
as was the A-minor one in the exposition.
8:13 [m. 173]--Theme 2.
It is scored exactly as in the exposition, but it is now in D
major. This seems unusual, as the second theme is normally in the
“home” key in the recapitulation, but the typical relationship between
keys of the second theme in the exposition and recapitulation is
actually preserved. Since the second theme in the exposition was
not in the expected “dominant” key, its appearance in D major here
follows the same pattern that an F-major appearance would have had if
the exposition second theme had been in the expected C-major key
instead of A major.
8:20 [m. 177]--At the very last
minute, the previous music makes a shift to the “correct” key of F
major. The “halting, breathless” portion of the theme from 1:42
[m. 50] follows in that key. The only substantive difference
(other than key) between here and the exposition presentation is that
the second violin does not play with the others on the first three bars
of the “short repeated note” groups and the second viola adds some
double stops there. The volume rises and the viola melody soars,
8:32 [m. 185]--First violin
statement of the Theme 2 melody, as at 1:55 [m. 58], now in F
major. From here, that key will remain in force until the end of
the movement. It is scored as it was in the exposition.
8:39 [m. 189]--The first violin
moves to the “halting, breathless” portion, as at 2:02 [m. 62].
Smooth, high-reaching lines become quiet, with some chromatic notes
(G-flat replacing the former B-flat), and settle toward the cadence
gestures, as in the exposition. The scoring is mostly the same,
with some minor alterations to account for instrument range in the home
8:57 [m. 200]--Cadence
gestures. They are more similar to the second ending at 4:53 [m.
73] than the first at 2:20. The first gesture is echoed by the
violas in harmony. The second gesture is begun by the second
violin instead of the first violin, and it is not an octave
lower. The transitional response to this second gesture is played
by the first violin instead of the first viola, as at the second
ending, without key change.
9:06 [m. 204]--The coda begins
with the first violin holding a high C. The second viola also
holds a long note. The second violin and first viola extend the
cadence gestures under this, gradually descending, with some chromatic
notes. The first violin and second viola move down as well, with
slower notes, some held over bar lines. The cello provides a
steady bass, slowly moving with the harmony of the upper
instruments. The volume level begins at a quiet level and becomes
even more quiet.
9:17 [m. 209]--Brahms indicates
a slower tempo with “Più moderato.” The two violins lead a
transformed version of the minor-key melody originally heard at 1:07
[m. 34], now serenely and beautifully in major. The lower
instruments provide static harmonies, then gradually start to become
more active. There is a strong buildup to a louder level for a
repetition of the “transformed” melody, now an octave higher and with
more active lower instruments. There are some chromatic notes and
minor-key vestiges, but they are only shadows of the formerly
9:37 [m. 217]--Echoes of the
“transfigured” melody continue as the music quiets down again gradually
and steadily becomes even slower. The first violin then reaches
very high and “stretches” out the music. The other instruments
remain in the ranges where they have been. They all reach a point
of quiet suspension.
9:52 [m. 222]--As the previous
passage reaches an extremely quiet low keynote in the cello, the main Allegro tempo suddenly returns, as
does a strong volume, as if to “wake up” the players. A flourish
of a broken F-major chord in triplets is followed by three closing
chords, the last one sustained.
10:07--END OF MOVEMENT [224 mm.]
Movement: Grave ed appassionato - Allegretto vivace - Tempo I - Presto
- Tempo I (ABA’B’A” form, alternating slow and fast sections).
C-SHARP MAJOR/MINOR--A MAJOR, 3/4, 6/8, and Cut [2/2] time.
A Section--Grave ed
appassionato, C-sharp major/minor, 3/4 time.
0:00 [m. 1]--The material of
the A sections is derived
from the early A-major piano sarabande, transposed to C-sharp.
The beautiful, melancholy theme, which includes some passionate
triplets, is presented as a duet between first violin and cello,
mostly in thirds, with the cello playing the melody above the violin
harmony. The other instruments provide more static harmony.
The first phrase is in a clear C-sharp major.
0:16 [m. 5]--The duet is passed
to the two violas, playing in sixths, the cello moving to its normal
bass role. Their presentation is in C-sharp minor instead of
major, and most of the following music will remain in minor.
After two bars, the first violin takes over from the violas, who
continue in a flowing counterpoint. This phrase builds with a
motion toward the “dominant” harmony, G-sharp.
0:30 [m. 9]--The upper
instruments expand the passionate triplet rhythm. The cello
enters with a low trill and a fast upward arpeggio. This happens
twice in an ascending sequence, passing over A major (a very important
key in this movement) before moving back to C-sharp.
0:43 [m. 13]--In a transitional
passage, the upper instruments become more hesitant and halting,
playing after the beat. The second violin drops out here.
The cello has the main line, a steadily descending bridge that touches
on F-sharp minor. It passes this line to the second violin, who
enters after two bars, as it moves to a smooth bass harmony. The
music becomes steadily quieter. The other three instruments
continue their after-beat notes before a triplet leads to the next
0:58 [m. 17]--The theme is
again stated in C-sharp minor, with the duet between the first violin
and first viola, the first violin playing the melody and the viola
playing a third below. It is now much quieter than before.
The second violin has a counterpoint line including triplets and the
second viola plays steady and detached triplet arpeggios, the cello
providing a slow-moving bass. The melody builds, expanding itself
higher than before, the first viola lagging a bit behind the first
violin. The phrase is extended by a bar.
1:17 [m. 22]--The last
statement of the theme (still in minor), is given by second violin and
first viola, the first viola moving above for the melody and the second
violin taking the viola’s previous lower third line. The first
violin plays a prominent counterpoint. The second viola and cello
continue their previous roles. The theme expands higher again,
the first violin counterpoint taking a leading role before all
instruments except the first viola break into triplets. The
statement builds and recedes.
1:32 [m. 26]--The music arrives
at a series of slow cadence gestures in short-long rhythm, the second
viola retaining two vestiges of the triplet rhythm. They include
dissonances such as an “augmented” chord. These cadence gestures
gradually recede. After four bars of cadence gestures, the lower
three instruments arrive on an octave C-sharp, the second violin
providing a weak harmony a fifth above. This is followed by two
bare, detached C-sharp octaves from first viola and cello, closing the
section in a stark manner.
B Section--Allegretto vivace,
A major, 6/8 time.
1:57 [m. 32]--The first part of
the new section pivots abruptly, but gently to A major and a rocking
6/8 meter. The opening dotted (long-short) rhythm, often, but not
always followed by a longer syncopated note held across a strong beat,
is the main characteristic of the section. The style is that of a
leisurely baroque gigue. The leading violin lines are decorated
by short trills in the first three bars. The second viola and
cello are plucked at the beginning, and the first viola only enters
after two bars. The dynamic is very quiet.
2:06 [m. 37]--The second phrase
begins after five bars. It emphasizes the syncopations more
heavily, stressing them and holding them over bar lines. It also
makes a wistful turn to the minor key and back. Like the first
phrase, it is an irregular five bars. The second violin takes the
dotted rhythm to lead into a repeat of the first two phrases.
2:16 [m. 32]--Repetition of the
2:25 [m. 37]--Repetition of the
second phrase, with varied last bar to lead into the following
2:35 [m. 42]--The heavy
syncopation of the second phrase is developed with somewhat more
intensity. A three-bar sequence is varied beginning a step
lower. The two statements move toward the related keys of D major
and B minor.
2:47 [m. 48]--The arrival point
of the last phrases is interrupted by the sudden entry of the cello in
the dotted rhythm with the decorative short trill. The cello
moves up a half-step on the syncopated note following the rhythm.
The first violin responds with a descending line using both syncopation
and the dotted rhythm. The other instruments support the violin
responses. There are four of these exchanges. The cello
only uses the trill on the first two. Between the first three
exchanges, there are octave or near-octave leaps in both the cello and
the violin. The music becomes steadily quieter and more gentle.
2:55 [m. 52]--An echo of the
syncopation in the violins leads seamlessly into a full restatement of
the first phrase, now shifted up to D major. The second violin
now stays together with the first violin on the dotted rhythm
throughout the phrase, and the first viola line is different, adding a
syncopated note to the first two bars.
3:06 [m. 58]--The second phrase
is also given at the new pitch level. It is expanded at the fifth
bar, with the dotted rhythm being passed twice from the second to the
first violin and back. The second violin statements begin with A,
and the first violin statements with E. The second viola is
plucked during this extension.
3:22 [m. 66]--The syncopation
again becomes very heavy and held over bar lines, with emphasis on the
descending version. The figures are passed between the two
violins, with each stating four of them and gradually moving down, the
two instruments separated by an octave. The lower three
instruments provide vital, but unobtrusive support. Again, the
second viola is plucked.
3:30 [m. 70]--The opening
gestures return as the key turns back to A major. The first viola
and cello alternate with the two violins The first viola has the
short trill on its first and third gestures. The figures step,
skip, and leap, both up and down, but stick to the opening dotted
rhythm with syncopation. The second viola drops out briefly
during these four bars.
3:37 [m. 74]--As A major
completely arrives, the dotted rhythm with syncopation continues to be
passed between instruments, but now the second viola enters and plays
with the first viola and second violin. These now alternate with
the first violin and cello. These “outer instruments” cut off
without holding notes over bar lines. After two exchanges, the
second viola and cello drop out of the last two, moving to plucked
notes on strong beats. The first violin line leads to the short
final chord of the section and a general pause. The entire last
passage moves again away from A and suggests D major again.
A’ Section--Tempo I, C-sharp
major/minor, 3/4 time
3:48 [m. 80]--The sarabande
material and the key of C-sharp return in a striking harmonic shift
from the previous music. The initial phrase is played in C-sharp
major, as it was in the first A
section, but this time the first violin has the melody instead of the
cello, and the harmony in thirds is provided by the second
violin. The harmony is given more fullness by the addition of
another parallel line in the first viola that moves in the same rhythm,
but not the same direction as the violins. The second viola and
cello provide bass support that includes repeated-note triplets.
The statement is gentle and quiet.
4:04 [m. 84]--The second violin
holds a note over and very quietly echoes the closing gesture of the
phrase, accompanied by the two violas and turning toward the minor
key. The first violin, initially playing alone, repeats and
abbreviates the echo with light, but sharp accompaniment entering from
other instruments. Then the cello introduces an inversion of the
figure, turning it upside down. The first viola follows with the
original version. This begins a rapid and powerful dynamic
buildup culminating with the entry of the first violin on the inverted
version accompanied by all other instruments in syncopation
4:25 [m. 90]--A new, highly
dramatic and active developmental passage begins, with the violins
playing triplet octaves with syncopated notes, the cello and the two
violas continuing to develop the main material in straight
rhythm. The volume suddenly quiets again in preparation for a
slower, steady buildup. The original main melody begins to emerge
in the first viola. The violins remain on octaves of the note
4:37 [m. 94]--As the triplets
continue, the violas and cello take over. Mixing triplet rhythm
and straight rhythm, the first viola plays a version of the second
phrase from the first A
section (0:16 [m. 5), which has been delayed by the new
insertions. After one bar, the violins abandon their syncopated
G-sharp octaves and begin to provide breathless responses after the
beat, resting on the first notes of triplet groups to preserve the
syncopated feel. In this rhythm, the first violin makes the
connection to 0:16 [m. 5] clear by embedding its original notes from
that passage. This becomes even more explicit at the point where
triplets entered the original first violin line. The agitated
4:40 [m. 98]--At a dramatic
arrival point, the music emerges into a virtually exact repetition of
the expansion with cello trills and arpeggios from 0:30 [m. 9].
5:02 [m. 102]--The virtual
repetition continues with the music from 0:43 [m. 13], the diminishing
transitional passage. The parts of the two violins are exchanged,
which has minimal aural effect. The first viola also exchanges
some notes with the violin parts. The second viola and cello
lines are identical.
5:17 [m. 106]--The passage from
0:58 [m. 17] is skipped, and the instruments continue with the
last statement from 1:17 [m. 22]. This is again virtually
identical, with some minor differences in the first bar. The
second viola begins its “steady triplets” here.
5:31 [m. 110]--The cadence
gestures from 1:32 [m. 26] are highly varied, yet still
recognizable. The instruments play in a gentle syncopation,
compressing the material of two bars into one and preserving the
structure through repetition and variation, with some new chords and
major-key hints. The closing octave C-sharps are decorated by
falls from a third above. The harmony a fifth above is also
preserved. These are expanded from two bars to three bars, the
third bar finally settling on C-sharp alone. All are stated by
the lower three instruments except for a brief persistence by the first
violin in the first of the three bars.
B’ Section--Presto, A major,
Cut [2/2] time
Although this section follows the structure and harmony of the earlier
gigue-like B section closely
and seems to be a “variation” in a new meter and tempo, it is also an
almost direct transcription of the early A-major piano gavotte.
This means that B is in fact
a “variation” of B’, and not
the other way around.
6:01 [m. 117]--The first violin
plays the vigorous gavotte theme, with sharp punctuations from the
other instruments. The second violin and first viola pluck their
accompaniments. All are played in a hushed, almost secretive
manner. The five-bar phrase corresponds closely with 1:57 [m. 32].
6:06 [m. 122]--The second
five-bar phrase brings back the syncopations from the first B section in the new tempo and
meter, also turning to the minor key and back. The second violin
and first viola are now bowed, the former joining the first violin on
the syncopation. The other instruments play on strong
beats. The phrase corresponds to 2:06 [m. 37], but begins at a
louder level and quiets quickly toward the end. The first violin
leads to the repetition of the first two phrases.
6:12 [m. 117]--Repetition of
the first phrase.
6:18 [m. 122]--Repetition of
the second phrase, with the last bar replacing the first violin lead-in
to the repeat with the beginning of the following syncopations
6:24 [m. 127]--As at 2:35 [m.
42], the heavy syncopation of the second phrase is developed, but now
with much more vigor and stark contrast between loud and soft.
Partly to accommodate the new meter and tempo, the passage is
lengthened from six to eight bars. A four-bar sequence (instead
of three) is varied beginning a step lower. The two
statements still move toward D major and B minor.
6:34 [m. 135]--The cello/violin
exchanges of 2:47 [m. 48] are replaced in the analogous passage with
skittish leaping figures passed between the instruments and harmonized,
beginning with the two violas, who continue with harmony when the
violins enter. When the cello comes in with the violins, it
provides a slower-leaping solid bass support. This bridge passage
is doubled in length from the B
section, expanded from four to eight bars. Also, that passage
became quieter, while this one begins quietly and lightly, but builds
steadily and powerfully as the main gavotte theme emerges. As in B, the motion is to D major here.
6:44 [m. 143]--At full volume,
two preliminary gestures precede the full gavotte theme in D
major. A new counterpoint is added in the second violin at first,
then it joins the churning chords of the violas The cello plays
first a hollow drone, then joins the churning in the last two
bars. The “preliminary” gestures are analogous to the “echo of
the syncopation” at 2:55 [m. 52], and the statement in D major is
analogous to the succeeding music.
6:51 [m. 150]--The second
phrase with the syncopations is given at the new pitch level, analogous
to 3:06 [m. 58]. It begins at full volume and speed.
Suddenly, a new internal and mysteriously quiet phrase is given in A
minor. Then a second loud statement of the syncopations occurs
(also with the quiet internal response, which now suggests F
major). This replaces the extension in the B section. Then follows, in a
departure from the B section,
the turn to (D) minor from the original phrase. It diminishes
more and moves toward A major, suddenly pausing after four detached
chords. The section ends here, considerably abbreviating the
A” Section--Tempo I, A
major--C-sharp minor/major, 3/4 time
7:12 [m. 164]--The initial
phrase of the sarabande melody is now played for the first time in A
major instead of C-sharp major. The harmony in thirds is between
the two violins, as in A’,
but the accompaniment from the lower instruments is less active,
similar to the first A.
There is slightly more motion in the lower instruments at the end of
the phrase than there was in A.
7:28 [m. 168]--The second
phrase is played in A minor by the first viola, as it was in C-sharp
minor in the initial A
section. This time, it is a solo line, without the harmonization
in sixths from the second viola. The first violin takes over
after two bars, as it had in A.
There is the same build toward “dominant” harmony, which in this case
7:42 [m. 172]--The expansion
with triplets and cello trills is very similar to 0:30 [m. 9] and 4:40
[m. 98], but it is not exactly analogous. The large leap and
descent after the first bar of triplets is much wider and descends
initially by skips instead of steps. This happens again in the
second sequence, and more notes are added to the ascending cello
arpeggio. The alterations help facilitate a motion away from A
major, not yet to the supposed “home” key of the movement, C-sharp, but
to its “dominant,” G-sharp.
7:56 [m. 176]--The passage is
analogous to the transitional passage at 0:43 [m. 13] and 5:02 [m.
102]. The cello has the initial descending line, as in both
places, but this time the continuation is from the first viola rather
than either of the violins. The after-beat notes are heard as
before, but the first violin rests under the first viola’s
continuation, resulting in a thinner texture. The music is moving
toward C-sharp minor.
8:11 [m. 180]--A new extension
to the transitional passage places the main line high in the first
violin and inverts it, so that it is moving up instead of down.
The second violin has a downward motion against it. The
after-beat notes continue, but the music builds and after two bars, all
instruments except first violin and cello break into a large descent in
two-note groups, the volume diminishing after the climax. There
is finally a clear arrival on C-sharp minor.
8:27 [m. 184]--Where a
statement of the original sarabande melody would be expected, Brahms
surprises by turning to the previously unused second half of the piano
sarabande, with its florid melody (which briefly turns to E major)
played by the first violin. The cello enters with a bass line and
the other instruments continue their two-note descents. The cello
joins the moving harmony under the C-sharp minor cadence. The
cadence itself is echoed an octave lower by the second violin (the
first violin dropping out) extending the phrase to five bars.
8:48 [m. 189]--The first viola
begins a statement of the sarabande melody with its new
decorations. The second violin repeats this an octave higher
after one bar, the first viola harmonizing directly in sixths. In
a third sequence, the first violin enters at an even higher distance,
an octave plus a fifth, and the second violin harmonizes directly in
sixths. The other instruments continue in block harmony.
This last statement is expanded, as the violins separate more widely
and the first violin reaches very high with the florid
decorations. This builds to another climax and culminates in
9:09 [m. 194]--In a transition
to the final cadence gestures, the cello plays its descent last heard
at 7:56 [m. 176]. The second violin has triplets on a C-sharp
major chord, and the minor version of that key will not appear
again. The volume rapidly diminishes. The first violin and
violas hold long notes.
9:17 [m. 196]--The final
cadence gestures are greatly altered from their previous
appearances. The C-sharp chords are now all major. The
dissonance from the previous appearances (the “augmented” chord) is
altered to a pure A-major chord, and these are juxtaposed directly
against the C-sharp chords, creating an entirely different sound, but
using the same basic notes between the two chords. The other
chords from the previous gestures, D major and a G-sharp dominant
chord, remain the same. Two full four-chord sequences are played
at a very quiet level.
9:36 [m. 200]--The chords are
now slowed to a full bar length, and the pulse itself slows
greatly. C-sharp and A-major chords alternate twice. Then,
in a great surprise, the harmony moves to D minor, where the first
violin plays an arpeggio. This leads, through a plagal cadence, to an A-major
chord, punctuated twice by shorter notes in the lower instruments
before the last chord. Thus, the movement ends in A major, the
key of the B sections (and
the first part of the A”
section) instead of in the expected C-sharp. Brahms would
frequently make his final cadences and arrivals work hard in such a
manner as this.
10:27--END OF MOVEMENT [208 mm.]
Movement: Allegro energico - Presto (Combination of Fugue and
Sonata-Allegro form). F MAJOR, 3/2 and 9/8 time.
0:00 [m. 1]--Theme 1 (Fugue
subject and exposition). All instruments play two sharp,
descending hammer-like chords. These will punctuate the entrances
of the subject. The first viola then presents the vigorous
three-bar subject, which is characterized by steady, straight rhythm,
large upward leaps, and downward motion including both scale descents
and more winding descents. The 3/2 bars create a sense of breadth.
0:07 [m. 5]--The two
punctuating chords are heard again in an altered form to change the
harmonic movement. The second violin then plays the subject in
the “subdominant” key of B-flat while the first viola continues with a
“countersubject,” an important melody with a very prominent dotted
(long-short) rhythm and a jagged figure leaping up an octave from two
short downward-skipping notes.
0:14 [m. 9]--Only the first
violin, second viola, and cello are left to play the weakened chords,
albeit in their original harmonic form. The first violin then
plays the subject in the home key of F while the second violin
continues with the countersubject. The first viola continues with
new counterpoint consisting of three isolated gestures with wide upward
and downward leaps.
0:20 [m. 13]--With only the
second viola and cello remaining to play the chords (in their “altered”
form), they are both given quadruple and triple stops to do this.
They then together play the final “bass” entry of the subject an octave
apart in B-flat. The first violin plays the countersubject.
The second violin and first viola pass short figures between
them. These are derived from the subject and include wide leaps.
0:27 [m. 17]--The “bass”
subject is extended. The second viola and cello continue their
“subject” patterns in running rhythm while the first violin joins the
second violin and first viola on short, detached figures. The
harmonies are very active and the volume steadily increases. At
the climax, the opening chords emerge in a very powerful form.
The first chord is of D minor (the “relative” minor) rather than F
major and the two chords are separated by a longer rest. The
second chord creates great tension and expectancy.
0:34 [m. 22]--A unison scale in
three octaves from all instruments leads to an exuberant and strong
“Theme 1” derived from the fugue subject and the countersubject,
particularly emphasizing the dotted rhythm. The first violin
leaps up and the cello leaps down so that they play the “theme” in
unison four octaves apart (except for a few notes where the cello
deviates because of range and other factors). The first violin
soars above the texture. The middle three instruments play
counterpoint clearly derived from both themes. At the midpoint of
the “theme,” a strong F-major cadence is followed by a decisive motion
to A minor.
0:46 [m. 29]--Transition (A
minor). All instruments except the second viola drop out, and
that instrument suddenly becomes hushed, playing double stops in dotted
rhythm. The cello then enters quietly below, and the other three
instruments hesitantly play light figures derived from the
subject. The viola then plays its double stops again. These
are also followed by the responses, but at a higher level in all the
instruments. Finally, the second viola moves up, and all
instruments arrive smoothly on A major for the second theme.
0:56 [m. 35]--Theme 2.
The first violin plays a broad, songful melody that eventually breaks
into a wide triplet rhythm. Against this, the first viola plays a
version of the original fugue subject, thus maintaining the blur
between fugue and sonata form. The cello is plucked before
dropping out under the triplets, and the other two instruments play
longer-held notes (A major).
1:03 [m. 39]--The music has
moved to E major, where the second violin takes the new version of the
fugue subject. The first violin drops out. The lower three
instruments (the cello bowed again) hesitantly hint at Theme 2 before
the first viola breaks out into its broad triplets. The first
violin, entering again, takes over the triplets as the second violin
continues on an extension of the fugue subject. The harmony moves
back to A, but it is now minor again.
1:11 [m. 44]--All instruments
except the second violin play “surging” short-long motion, with a mild
increase in intensity. The second violin continues its steady and
faster motion. Suddenly, the harmony veers toward an unexpected C
major. The second violin finally breaks, and the faster “subject”
motion is taken over by the first violin, second viola, and
cello. The second violin and first viola play the “surging”
figures. The faster motion stops, but hints at the subject
persist. The patterns following the “surges” are extended,
passing through C-sharp minor. The first violin, reaching high,
gently leads back to A major.
1:30 [m. 55]--At the A-major
cadence, the second violin begins to play the “head” of the fugue
subject. The first viola, then the second viola follow with
imitative responses. The first violin and later the cello,
continue with “surging” figures. The fugue responses are passed
back up to first viola and second violin. For now, the music
remains in A major.
1:37 [m. 60]--The first violin
joins the second violin in harmony (sixths), and then the violas enter
against them in thirds, the cello providing a slow bass. The
volume swells from the hushed level to a forte. The violins cascade
downward, punctuated by chords from the lower instruments. These
join in the downward motion. The arpeggio is A major, but that
chord has now taken a “dominant” function leading to the main key of
the development section, D minor.
1:43 [m. 64]--The music becomes
quiet again, and the second violin plays the broad triplets from Theme
2 in D minor. The other instruments accompany with slower lines
of counterpoint. The cello only enters at the very end with two
low plucked notes. Motion to A minor.
1:51 [m. 68]--The first violin
takes over the triplets, which now begin in A minor. The pattern
of the other instruments is similar to the second violin statement, but
the cello plays (bowed) from the outset. Motion back to D minor.
1:57 [m. 72]--The first viola
begins another statement of the triplet rhythm, but soon the first
violin also joins the triplet rhythm, and the two instruments
alternate. The intensity gradually increases. The second
violin also joins the triplets, leaving the harmonic support to second
viola and cello (which is plucked throughout the passage). At the
climax, the second viola joins the triplet rhythm, creating a dense web
of counterpoint. The very active harmony has arrived at B-flat
2:11 [m. 81]--An extended
passage of counterpoint based on the fugue subject begins in B-flat
minor. The second violin leads, followed at short distance by the
first violin and bowed cello, who enter together a tenth apart, then
diverge. The violas, at some distance, enter together a tenth
apart. The first viola briefly plays in octaves with the first
violin. The volume and intensity are strong throughout. The
counterpoint continues at length in B-flat minor before an arrival
point on F minor.
2:23 [m. 88]--The arrival on F
heralds the impending recapitulation. The counterpoint continues
in F minor, now incorporating the dotted rhythm of the
countersubject. The first viola and cello rest briefly before
their respective entries.
2:28 [m. 91]--Re-transition.
The instruments are suddenly quiet as the first violin reaches a high
point. That instrument gradually descends in a winding motion in
dotted rhythm. The cello holds a low C. The second violin
and first viola pass smooth lines between each other. After
resting for two bars, the second viola joins the low cello note in
harmony. The volume increases at the second viola entry.
The harmony moves to C major. Suddenly, the instruments all break
into fast, highly syncopated arpeggios and chords. These arrive
at the home key of F major (with a prominent D-flat from F minor) over
a powerful crescendo.
2:41 [m. 98]--Theme 1. At
full volume, the instruments superimpose the fugue subject and
countersubject. The violins and first viola play the
countersubject, the second viola and cello the subject. After one
bar, the first violin switches to the subject, but all other
instruments have moved to the countersubject. The “jagged”
leaping figure from the countersubject then takes over, passed from
bottom to top and back again. It serves to propel the key once
more to A major.
2:47 [m. 102]--Mass statement
of the subject and countersubject, this time with the violins taking
the subject and the lower instruments the countersubject. The
second viola and cello take over the subject after one bar, the violins
moving with the first viola to the countersubject. As before, the
“jagged” figure takes over, this time moving from top to bottom and
back. This passage is the last appearance of A major, the key
that has had such importance throughout the quintet. Motion back
to F major.
2:56 [m. 107]--Suddenly, the
instruments emerge into the “extension” from 0:27 [m. 17]. The
only major difference is that the second viola and cello begin their
running motion an octave lower than in the exposition. The first
viola moves up to the original octave after three bars, the cello at
the very end. The “climactic” chords are heard at the end in the
same form, again creating tension and expectancy.
3:03 [m. 112]--The “exuberant
and strong” theme from 0:34 [m. 22] emerges. After four bars, it
is varied and extended by a bar, so that the decisive arrival is in D
minor rather than A minor. At the point of deviation, the first
violin leaps down so that it is separated from the cello by three
octaves instead of four.
3:17 [m. 120]--Transition.
It is similar to 0:46 [m. 29], with some important differences.
Most importantly, the double stops previously played by second viola
are now split between the two violas. Because of that, the first
responses of the second violin (who had entered last) and first viola
are reversed. The second series of responses are altered to
create a motion from D minor to F major (where previously it was simply
a change from minor to major on the same keynote), the violas
rearranging their previous material.
3:27 [m. 126]--Theme 2.
Broad melody in the first violin with triplets, subject in the first
viola, and plucked cello notes. Essentially a direct
transposition to the home key of F major from 0:56 [m. 35].
3:34 [m. 130]--First violin
drops out, second violin takes fugue subject beginning in C major, and
triplets from first viola, then first violin. Directly analogous
to 1:03 [m. 39]. Motion to F minor.
3:42 [m. 135]--Surging figures
and continuing “subject” extensions. Essentially, this is a
direct transposition of 1:11 [m. 44], with the expected analogous
motions to A-flat major and A minor. The major difference is that
the cello does not play the fast “subject” material at the
corresponding point, and the second viola compensates by playing much
material an octave lower. The cello simply plays plucked C’s in
that spot, then moves to its corresponding line. The upbeats from
the second violin that led into the development section are
omitted. The transition into the new tempo and meter of the coda
is very abrupt.
CODA--Presto, 9/8 time
4:01 [m. 146]--The shift to 9/8
time retains the basic triple meter, but moves to a subdivision of
beats into three instead of two (in this piece usually four)
parts. The speed is also increased. It begins with a light,
but somewhat uneasy upward chromatic motion from the first violin,
supported by the second violin and first viola. The other two
instruments provide light bass punctuation until the cello breaks into
an echo of music from Theme 2 in a clashing duple rhythm. The top
three instruments continue to move steadily, now mostly in descending
4:08 [m. 152]--The first violin
begins another chromatic ascent, then itself emerges into the Theme 2
echo. It stays in the basic rhythm, however, repeating notes when
necessary to maintain the constant motion. As the first violin
reaches ever higher and the lower two instruments join in the steady,
constant 9/8 motion, the volume increases dramatically from a very
quiet, secretive level to a large climax at the top.
4:17 [m. 160]--The climax
arrives with a large series of descending unison scales passed between
the instruments from high to low. These gradually obtain harmony
and arch back upward before the violins begin another descent.
The instruments then emerge into a series of strong syncopations in
full chord harmony as the lower instruments continue to descend.
4:24 [m. 166]--There is a
sudden drop in volume and a more skittish descent begins with repeated
notes, still in full harmony. The second viola and cello begin
equally skittish chromatic ascents. The violins begin to leap
widely, including several octave jumps, but they do not move in
unison. Another huge crescendo
leads to a sudden arrest of the motion on five strong, expectant chords.
4:33 [m. 174]--At a large
arrival point, the theme from 0:34 [m. 22] and 3:03 [m. 112] is adapted
to the new 9/8 meter and played at a very powerful level. At
first, the cello doubles the first violin four octaves lower as
before, but after four bars, it joins the harmony and light
counterpoint of the other instruments. The constant motion in
groups of three continues in at least two instruments throughout the
passage. Descending arpeggios are heard in the inner instruments,
and then they culminate in a unison descent.
4:44 [m. 182]--The final
cadence gestures include sharp chords from the outer instruments
against continuing motion in the other three. When the first
violin and cello finally join the motion, they quickly lead to the last
four emphatic F-major chords, the last of which is briefly held.
4:55--END OF MOVEMENT [185 mm.]
END OF QUINTET
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