STRING QUINTET NO. 2 in G MAJOR, OP. 111
Recording: Verdi Quartet (Susanne Rabenschlag, 1st Violin;
Johannes Hehrmann, 2nd violin; Karin Wolf, viola;
Zoltan Paulich, cello) with Hermann Voss, 2nd Viola
This piece has the
distinction of being what Brahms originally intended to be his last
published work. Joachim, with whom he had reconciled after a long
dispute, had requested a companion piece to the Op. 88 quintet.
Brahms produced a refined masterpiece, and told his publisher that he
had said all he could as a composer and that no more works should be
expected. Perhaps the opus number, the same as Beethoven’s last
piano sonata, was symbolic. A perusal of the works after Op. 111
shows that clarinetists, pianists, bass singers, and organists should
be eternally grateful that he changed his mind. At any rate, the
G-major quintet is a breathtaking piece, almost orchestral in
conception, creating the effect of far more than five
instruments. This is especially true in the first movement, whose
full opening has placed fear into the hearts of many cellists.
Joachim asked him to tone down the tremolo
in the upper instruments, but at this point in his career, he did not
second guess himself. The movement’s energy never really abates,
despite much quiet material, and Brahms uses the supple 9/8 meter to
play his beloved rhythmic games. The other three movements are
all much shorter (each successively so in terms of performance time),
and all have a distinctive “gypsy” or “Slavonic” element, especially
the czardas-like finale (which begins in the “wrong” key). This
is in homage both to Joachim’s Hungarian heritage and Brahms’s own
earlier works in that style. The slow movement is admired for its
rich, bold harmonies and progressions. The third movement could
be called a scherzo, but is really a gentle, melancholy waltz.
Particularly in the middle section, it often sounds like a piece by
Dvořák, perhaps intentionally so. The brevity of the other
movements is no excuse for omitting the exposition repeat in the first
movement, which has a greater than usual structural significance.
SCORE FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut Lübeck)
Movement: Allegro non troppo, ma con brio (Sonata-Allegro form).
G MAJOR, 9/8 time.
0:00 [m. 1]--Theme 1. The
four upper instruments begin a strong, richly harmonized tremolo background. Against
this, in a notoriously difficult challenge for the cellist, that
instrument projects the wide-ranging, heroic main theme. It
begins in the low register with a downward leap, but it then works
upward quite quickly. The rhythm of the theme, with its typical
three-note and two-note upbeats, sets it apart. The cello theme
reaches the high register and hints at the related E minor key before a
distinctive descent. The upper strings continue their tremolo motion at a strong level,
changing harmonies when needed.
0:21 [m. 8]--The tremolo motion stops. The
cello continues its melody with the rising motive of a long note
followed by two short ones. The two violins imitate this in
harmony. The key of B major is suggested here. The violas
and second violin suggest the tremolo
against a first violin syncopation and a cello descent. The
violins then take the long-short material, with the cello still leading
in counterpoint, moving through C major. The first violin reaches
up for a high descent as the cello and second viola play in
syncopation. The tremolo
motion begins again in the inner instruments as the first violin and
cello build toward the climax.
0:39 [m. 14]--The instruments
have a huge arrival on a C major chord. The violas pass ascending
arpeggios between them in cross rhythms derived from the theme.
The tension increases even more, and is released by a re-emergence of
the theme’s opening in the second viola. It is quickly passed to
the first violin, which soars above the texture. The first violin
introduces a new line as the theme’s rhythm continues in the violas and
second violin. Leaping syncopations lead into the transition.
0:58 [m. 21]--Transition.
The instruments come together and sharply force out a D major
chord. The second violin trails downward, and another chord is
forced out, this time a dissonant “diminished” chord. The second
violin trails down again, and another “diminished’ chord is forced
out. The first viola now trails, leading to a cascading descent
on the first violin against an arching ascent and descent in the cello,
all on another “diminished” chord while the inner instruments play
thick single-note tremolo.
This emerges into a quiet preparation for Theme 2, with the second
viola trailing into it.
1:15 [m. 26]--Theme 2, Part
1. The violas lead the tune in harmony, with short fragments
punctuated by detached responses from the violins, the cello now
playing pizzicato. The
first viola and cello emerge into a descending cross rhythm (D major).
1:28 [m. 30]--The violins now
lead on the short melodic fragments. The responses are replaced
by downward-arching lines in the first viola. The first violin,
with the cello, which begins to be bowed at this point, emerges into
the cross rhythm heard earlier from the first viola.
1:41 [m. 34]-- The first
violin leads an expansion of the theme in F-sharp minor that
incorporates the cross rhythms. After moving back to D major, the
expansion dissipates into short off-beat sigh figures in the top three
instruments with the second viola “pushing” into them with syncopations.
1:54 [m. 38]--Theme 2, Part
2. The second violin leads this tune, in a skipping syncopated
short-long rhythm. The other instruments accompany with arching
lines, including the first violin. The cello is plucked
again. At the end of the phrase, a rising arpeggio from the first
violin and first viola leads to the next statement.
2:07 [m. 42]--The first violin
takes over the short-long tune with great gentleness. The
arpeggios just heard continue in the inner instruments along with the
arching lines, both played in counterpoint to the tune. At the
end of the phrase, there is a rapid buildup in volume, and the
arpeggios emerge in all the instruments, now shooting upward in a much
faster, powerful triplet rhythm.
2:20 [m. 46]--Closing
Theme. The powerful arpeggios reach a cadence that leads into the
closing theme. The phrasing and accentuation of this tune obscure
the beat and meter. The inner instruments play in tremolo on rapidly repeated notes,
continuing the triplet rhythm from the arpeggios. Other than this
inward pulsation, they move together with the first violin and cello,
beginning in unison but then diverging into harmonies. The theme
begins in a low register, than moves upward. The cello and second
viola have sharp off-beat chords. The continuation moves again to
F-sharp minor. There is more syncopation and some imitation, and
the first violin joins the triplet tremolo
pulsation. Finally, it descends to a half-cadence.
2:41 [m. 53]--Very quietly, D
major is restored with an echo of the closing theme that quickly
devolves into syncopated chords held over strong beats and bar
lines. These continue, and reach a cadence in D major. In
the first statement of the exposition, the cadence is completed, which
is not the case in the second statement. This is why taking the
repeat is absolutely essential in this late work.
2:54 [m. 57, first ending]--The
first ending to the exposition moves back to the home key of G major by
quietly slipping into the rhythm of the main theme. The second
violin and second viola are gently plucked. The first violin and
first viola pass Theme 1 fragments between them until they emerge into
a cross rhythm, with the intensity quickly and powerfully
increasing. Here, the cello begins Theme 1 just before the upper
instruments can bring things together again on the tremolo, the two “plucking”
instruments quickly picking up their bows.
3:00 [m. 2 (59)]--Theme
1. From this point, the cello having begun the theme without the
initial tremolo figures
preceding it, the theme continues from the downward leap as at the
3:17 [m. 8]--Long-short-short
motive and motion through B major and C major, as at 0:21.
3:35 [m. 14]--Arrival on
C-major chord and re-emergence of the theme’s opening, as at 0:39.
3:55 [m. 21]--Transition with
forced chords, as at 0:58.
4:12 [m. 26]--Theme 2, Part
1. Short viola fragments with detached responses, as at 1:15.
4:25 [m. 30]--Violin statement
of the short fragments, as at 1:28.
4:37 [m. 34]--Expansion in
F-sharp minor, as at 1:41.
4:50 [m. 38]--Theme 2, Part
2. Skipping short-long melody, as at 1:54.
5:04 [m. 42]--Gentle first
violin statement followed by rapid buildup and triplet arpeggios, as at
5:16 [m. 46]--Closing Theme,
with obscured meter, tremolo
repetitions, and motion to half-cadence in F-sharp minor, as at 2:20.
5:38 [m. 53]--Restoration of D
major and syncopated chords, as at 2:41. The cadence is not
completed, and is left hanging on the “dominant” chord in preparation
for the development section.
5:51 [m. 57, second ending]--The
entire development section uses the two-flat key signature of G minor
and B-flat major. It begins in B-flat major with a very quiet tremolo in triplets, against which
the first viola, then the first violin, tentatively present a rising
third. The two instruments then alternate again on higher
thirds. They begin to slowly arch downward. The first viola
slips into the tremolo of the
other instruments, then the second violin emerges out of it, joining
the first violin in contrary motion on the arching line.
6:19 [m. 65]--The tremolo figures now pulsate on
repeated notes. The first violin and first viola surge forward
with the rising third figures, but now strongly accent and harmonize
them. The music greatly increases in intensity, moving first
through B-flat minor, then to G minor, both related minor keys to the
previous B-flat major.
6:31 [m. 69]--A long passage of
counterpoint begins in G minor. Fragments of Theme 1 are passed
between the instruments, all in arpeggios. Faster arpeggios are
directly juxtaposed with slower ones. They are regularly
punctuated with sharp tremolo
chords. As the counterpoint builds to a climax, the first violin
plays high notes in syncopation along with other cross-rhythm figures
in the lower instruments. A cadence in G minor leads to the
following statement of Theme 1.
7:00 [m. 79]--With tremolo preparation in the violins,
the cello suddenly and strongly begins a statement of Theme 1 with a
four-string chord. It starts in E-flat major, but quickly becomes
unstable and veers toward D-flat. The second viola joins the
cello in dovetailing fragments, while the upper three instruments
continue the tremolo.
7:14 [m. 84]--The music
suddenly quiets down, and a seemingly new harmonized melody derived
from Theme 1 is heard in a lilting rhythm in the remote key of D-flat
major, moving to A-flat. It is then shifted upward and restated E
major, moving to B. After both statements of the lilting melody,
repeated detached notes become more prominent and more ominous.
7:38 [m. 90]--The “ominous”
nature of the detached notes is here fulfilled in a mysterious passage
with winding harmonized violins and continuing repeated detached
notes. The passage is stated in G minor, then in B-flat minor in
a reversal of the pattern from 6:19 [m. 65]. The B-flat minor
statement is diverted to F.
7:52 [m. 94]--In a sudden
outburst, the “ominous” repeated notes become powerful, beginning the
re-transition to the recapitulation. The repeated notes alternate
with powerfully downward-winding descents, moving up in harmony from C
major/minor through D minor to E major. The cello alternates with
the downward-winding descents as well, turning them around to
ascents. Upon reaching E major, the repeated notes become more
heavy, and are expanded, leading through A minor to C major.
8:11 [m. 100]--The melody from
7:14 [m. 84] is now presented powerfully in C major, only to be
interrupted again by the heavy repeated notes. The tremolo returns in the lower
instruments, signifying that the recapitulation is imminent.
8:21 [m. 103]--In the final
re-transition, the previous passage is restated in E-flat major, but is
now interrupted by ascending arpeggios that break off the tremolo and move from the violas to
the violins, introducing cross rhythms similar to those heard in the
first ending of the exposition. Only at the last moment, as the
cello suddenly emerges into Theme 1, does the music slip from E-flat
major into G major.
8:30 [m. 106]--Theme 1.
The cello begins it, as expected, but the accompaniment, with plunging
violin arpeggios, is different. After one bar, the first violin
takes up the theme from the cello, the latter instrument joining the
other three on the shimmering tremolo
motion. The first violin continues the theme with its original
contour, albeit two octaves higher than the cello presentation.
8:48 [m. 112]--Here, in the
passage analogous to 0:21 and 3:17 [m. 8], the first violin diverges
from the exposition. While the motive with a long note followed
by two short ones is used here as expected, the harmonies are
different, and while the two violins play together in sonorous parallel
thirds, there is no imitation at first. Almost ironically, the
cello alone continues the tremolo,
the violas playing in direct counterpoint to the violins and taking the
original cello descent heard after the motive (while the violins
reverse the direction, moving upward). The motive continues, now
with the violas imitating the violins. The passage is condensed,
omitting the passage from 0:39 and 3:35 [m. 14], and leading into the
9:01 [m. 116]--Transition.
The previous passage having reaffirmed the home key of G major, the
transition is played there instead of on D, as before. The only
real difference otherwise from 0:58 and 3:55 [m. 21] is that the
trailing lines are reversed. The first viola takes the first two
trailing lines after the “forced” chords, and the second violin takes
the last one before the first violin plunge and cello arch.
9:18 [m. 121]--Theme 2, Part 1,
in the home key of G. The scoring of the fragments and responses
is as in the exposition at 1:15 and 4:12 [m. 26], with the cello
playing pizzicato as before.
9:31 [m. 125]--As at 1:28 and
4:35 [m. 30], the violins now lead. There is variation here in
that the second viola now joins the first on the arching lines,
creating new harmonies.
9:44 [m. 129]--The expansion
from 1:41 and 4:37 [m. 34] is now heard in B minor, as would be
expected in an analogous motion to the F-sharp minor of the
exposition. The scoring is nearly the same, but the two violins
reverse roles in the closing “sigh” figures.
9:58 [m. 133]--Theme 2, Part
2. In a significant difference from 1:54 and 4:50 [m. 38], the
skipping short-long melody is presented by the first violin rather than
the second. This requires the first violin to merge directly from
the melody into the ascending arpeggio at the end of the phrase.
10:11 [m. 137]--The gentle
statement is very similar to 2:07 and 5:04 [m. 42], but descending
arpeggios are now mixed with ascending ones in the accompaniment.
The rapid increase in volume and the upward-shooting arpeggios in
triplets follow as expected.
10:24 [m. 141]--Closing
Theme. The obscured meter and tremolo
repetitions follow the patterns of 2:20 and 5:16 [m. 46], leading to a
half-cadence in B minor.
10:46 [m. 148]--The cello slips
down, smoothly moving back to G major. The passage from 2:41 and
5:48 [m. 53] is omitted. Instead, the figures from the closing
theme, no longer obscuring the meter, lead into the very gentle and
serene beginning of the coda. They are passed between the first
violin and both violas, with the second violin adding syncopated
descending counterpoint. The first viola later joins the second
violin in unison. These instruments continue to pass these
figures, with the cello mostly providing a drone bass. The first
violin reaches quite high and becomes syncopated, veering suddenly to
the minor key. A cello arpeggio leads into the following passage.
11:14 [m. 157]--A rich and
warm, but melancholy passage in G minor is based on Theme 2, Part 2,
the short-long melody, which is taken by the first violin and
incorporates the arching lines. The second violin and first viola
play faster arpeggios with some syncopation, while the second viola and
cello play slower arching lines. At the end, the melody is
fragmented into shorter descending “sigh” figures, leading into the
next passage in major.
11:32 [m. 162]--Now, in a
moment of great serenity, figures from Theme 1 and Theme 2, Part 2 are
combined. The Theme 1 figures (ascending arpeggios) are heard in
the lower instruments, the short-long figures from Theme 2, Part 2 in
the violins (the first viola actually takes both elements at different
11:46 [m. 166]--The short-long
figures are now mixed with smooth arching arpeggios from the
violins. The Theme 1 material continues in the lower instruments,
and descending arpeggios now join the ascending ones. The music
makes harmonic digressions to the related minor keys of E and
F-sharp. It becomes quieter and slower, reaching a suspended
half-cadence in E minor.
12:10 [m. 172]--Suddenly, the
volume and speed return to their full levels, and two sharp chords from
the entire ensemble lead quickly from E minor back to G major.
The tremolo repetitions are
heard in the inner instruments against a descending first violin
arpeggio and an ascending cello one. The inner instruments then
turn to the oscillating tremolo
associated with Theme 1. The first violin and cello play a
powerful cadence gesture that is directly taken from the end of the
development section at 8:21 [m. 103]. This is expanded, some
cross rhythms are heard, and the cadence is punctuated with strong
12:26 [m. 178]--The cadence
leads to some final joyous reminiscences of Theme 1 in all instruments,
passed from top to bottom, the cello appropriately taking the rising
arpeggio last. The other instruments plunge downward before the
two last brilliant chords, in which all instruments except the cello
play triple and quadruple stops.
12:42--END OF MOVEMENT [181 mm.]
Adagio (Ternary/Rondo hybrid form). D MINOR, 2/4 time.
0:00 [m. 1]--Principal (Rondo)
theme. The violas present it, the first taking the melody and the
second providing a prominent counterpoint. The cello accompanies
with steady, widely leaping plucked notes. The melody is notable
for its heavily leaning toward the “dominant” key (with the prominent
chromatic G-sharp on a short note) and for the distinctive five-note
turning figure in the second bar.
0:12 [m. 3]--As the violins
enter, not taking over the melody, but providing harmony to the first
viola melody, the key suddenly shifts to C major. The plucked
cello plays a sharp ascending dotted rhythm, taken over by the bowed
second viola. The first viola continues to spin out the melody,
making another decorated excursion to B-flat as the cello takes up the
bow. Slipping back to C major and into languid triplets, the
melody leads through a subtle progression to the “dominant” harmony of
the home key on a quiet tremolo.
0:43 [m. 9]--Episodic
theme. The first violin plays short, isolated figures introduced
by short notes. The second violin enters in harmony and
quasi-imitation on the same figures. The lower three instruments
provide isolated support on the off-beats. The short figures
start to constitute a melancholy melody that, like the principal theme,
leans heavily toward the “dominant” harmony.
1:02 [m. 13]--The first viola
has an isolated transition in a triplet rhythm that is clearly derived
from the principal theme. The second viola and cello join in
light off-beat harmonies leading back to the theme itself, and the
first viola incorporates some light syncopation.
1:13 [m. 15]--Principal
theme. The first two bars transfer the viola parts to the
violins, an octave higher than the opening, with the second viola
playing the wide plucked notes originally played by the cello. It
is also played quietly and expressively, whereas the opening was more
1:24 [m. 17]--The shift to C
major happens as expected, but the material itself is varied, with the
dotted rhythm passed between descending violins and ascending lower
instruments at an extremely quiet level. The first viola, given
so much prominence earlier, here merely provides harmonic
support. One statement of this alternation in C major is
immediately followed by a second in A minor. A third is in C
major again, but with a striking internal A-major harmony.
Finally, a fourth statement without the ascending lower instruments
moves again to the “dominant” harmony (A major, already strongly
implied) of D minor.
2:05 [m. 25]--Episodic
theme. It begins as before in the first violin, but the
supporting lower instruments are now given short lead-in notes similar
to those heard in the melody itself. When the second violin
enters, the harmony and direction are immediately altered. The
“dominant” key is still emphasized, but at the end, the home key of D
minor is more strongly asserted by shifting the entire melody and
harmonies down a fifth from their original ending in the statement at
0:43 [m. 9].
2:25 [m. 29]--The triplet
rhythm transition is now played by the first violin and first viola in
octaves, with the second violin and second viola, and later the cello,
joining in with the light off-beat harmonies much sooner than in the
statement at 1:02 [m. 13]. The transition is extended by two
bars. The first violin leaps strongly downward, then the cello
arches down and back up, building strongly in volume and moving toward
E-flat major and G minor. The first violin re-enters in
preparation for the principal theme.
2:43 [m. 33]--Principal theme,
played in its entirety in the key of G minor. The violins take
the theme and its counterpoint, and the plucked accompaniment is now
broken into faster notes played by the first viola and cello in
2:53 [m. 35]--The harmonic
shift is analogous, moving from G minor to F major. The plucked
dotted rhythms are heard as expected, with the bowed second viola
joining the cello, the first viola providing a new and more steady
(still plucked) background. The cello takes up the bow in the
same place as before, and a brief analogous digression to E-flat leads
to the analogous “dominant” of G minor after the languid triplets,
where the first viola finally takes up the bow and Brahms deftly
re-scores the original passage.
3:21 [m. 41]--Transition.
The music becomes steadily quieter, and the instruments begin a
colorful progression of chords. An echo of the languid triplets
is briefly heard in G minor, and then the colorful, hushed chord
progression begins again. It includes several unstable
“diminished seventh” chords and much mode mixture. It dies down
to almost nothing.
3:56 [m. 48]--Beginning in G
minor, the formerly “languid” triplets burst upon the scene in dramatic
fashion, alternating between violins and violas, the cello providing a
leaping bass. The triplets then become syncopated, with heavy
accents. The material is given again a step lower, in F major,
with the violas leading. After more syncopation, the violins
plunge downward, leading back to the home key of D minor.
4:11 [m. 52]--The principal
theme suddenly emerges, but it is in the key of D major rather than minor. It
is played by the violins, the cello providing the wide-ranging plucked
accompaniment as expected, but the violas unexpectedly carry over the
triplet rhythm from the previous passage.
4:19 [m. 54]--Instead of the
expected colorful harmonic shift at this point, the descending
arpeggios in dotted rhythm from 1:24 [m. 17] appear in a closely
related key, B minor, in the violins in harmony. The mood is
quite stormy and agitated. The cello immediately takes a similar
descent in dotted rhythm, shifting back to the home key against a
4:27 [m. 56]--The home key of D
minor is firmly established here. The cello turns the dotted
rhythm around, ascending as it did in previous appearances of the
principal theme. The first violin begins to play the continuation
of the theme as first heard from 0:12 [m. 3], but now remaining at home
harmonically. The three inner instruments continue to descend in
the dotted rhythm, but introduce a sharp and feverish syncopation.
4:34 [m. 58]--The syncopation
breaks off as the violin melody reaches its climax. The second
violin joins it in counterpoint. The accompaniment figures of the
lower instruments, still featuring the dotted rhythm, become more
feverish. The melody itself reaches higher than before and then
4:48 [m. 62]--With a sharp
accent on the last beat of the previous bar, the first violin speeds up
its motion. The other instruments are even faster, playing a
rapid tremolo (with repeated
notes and chords) in a very fast triplet rhythm. The second
violin and first viola soon abandon this, joining the first violin in
harmony. The second viola and cello continue with the shuddering tremolo. Finally, the
instruments slow down, the first violin descending by half-steps and
the others supporting it, the first viola ascending against it.
5:08 [m. 66]--As a
re-transition, the first viola plays a long and elaborate lead-in with
multiple leaps and cross-rhythms, supported by long notes in the second
viola and cello. The second violin also holds a note for some of
the large run. The first viola descends, diminishes, and slows
down, leaping down into a very strong cadence onto the home key.
This viola run is similar to a passage at the end of the third movement
(scherzo) of the third string quartet in B-flat (Op. 67).
5:21 [m. 69]--The first bars of
the principal theme return in their original form and key, except that
the violins play the melody and counterpoint rather than the
violas. The theme is quiet and expressive.
5:33 [m. 71]--Instead of the
expected harmonic shift, the music remains in the home key of D minor,
and the first violin begins to play a variant of the succeeding music
that is both gentle and melancholy. The cello is bowed after
plucking the two previous bars and joins the second violin and second
viola in syncopated harmonies held across bar lines. The first
viola provides echoes of the melancholy variant. The instruments
swell one last time and settle to a cadence on a D major (not minor)
chord. The first violin then slips down for the final statement.
6:04 [m. 77]--The first violin
plays a last statement of the theme’s first two bars, but, in keeping
with the harmonic adventures throughout the movement, it is the G-minor
version at a subdued volume and lower pitch level. The theme’s
emphasis on the “dominant” proves to be prophetic here. The
“dominant” of G minor is D major, and the theme stops on that chord (D minor being the home key of the
movement), ending with a few reiterations and cello syncopations.
Because of this last bit of G minor, the final D-major chords sound
strangely incomplete, and lead rather smoothly into the G-minor key of
the next movement.
6:33--END OF MOVEMENT [80 mm.]
Movement: Un poco Allegretto (Ternary form resembling a scherzo and
trio). G MINOR, 3/4 time.
A Section (“Scherzo”)
0:00 [m. 1]--Part 1. The
first violin leads in a very melancholy waltz tune. The
accompaniment is given a skittish effect by the first viola and cello
always playing on the beats while the second violin and second viola
always play after them. Even-numbered bars have accompaniment
rests, on the second beat in m. 2 and m. 4, and on the third beat
thereafter. After the two opening gestures, the first violin
reaches higher, then gradually descends. The descent to the
half-cadence is stretched out, creating a twelve-bar phrase.
0:18 [m. 13]--Part 1, varied
repeat. The first violin phrase is reprised at first, but the
accompaniment is changed. Smoother lines replace the skittish
alternations. At first, only the cello plays on the downbeat in
the accompaniment, but later all the instruments become more
smooth. The skittish nature is restored in the last four bars,
but the smoother lines are still used. Halfway through the
phrase, the first violin begins to share some of its line with the
second violin, and the melody itself is subtly altered in the last four
bars to sound more conclusive at the D-minor cadence. The entire
repetition is at a quieter level.
0:34 [m. 25]--Part 2. Two
complementary contrasting phrases are heard, the first in C minor, the
second in B-flat minor. The first viola plays in
quasi-imitational counterpoint with the first violin, and actually
leads in the second phrase. The second violin and second viola
largely play syncopated repeated notes, while the cello provides a
sparse bass accompaniment.
0:46 [m. 33]--In a passage of
buildup, the first violin and cello play in unison two octaves apart
while the inner instruments provide a syncopated background of repeated
harmonies. The passage remains in B-flat minor. At the end,
the other instruments join the rhythm of the outer ones in the
climactic arpeggios with cross-meter groupings suggesting a brief
2/4. Only the second viola plays a slower line.
1:00 [m. 43]--At the top of the
climax, the first violin and cello wrench the music back to a highly
chromatic G minor. The inner instruments have sharp syncopations,
and the material recalls the opening waltz phrases of Part 1.
Then the music plunges downward with each instrument entering from top
to bottom except for the cello, which provides a steady bass.
Finally, the first violin is isolated for two highly plaintive arching
phrases, the second a fourth lower than the first.
1:13 [m. 53]--One final phrase
is added as an extended cadence. It is now the cello that plays
repeated syncopated notes. The music becomes gradually more
subdued. Halfway through, the first violin slows down the
characteristic three-note gesture that ended the phrases of Part 1 by
lengthening the notes. This happens against more disorienting
cross rhythms. The inner instruments then take up the
gesture. Two hushed and suddenly major chords end the section.
1:24 [m. 25]--Part 2
repeated. Two complementary phrases in C minor and B-flat minor,
as at 0:34.
1:35 [m. 33]--Passage of
buildup in B-flat minor, as at 0:46.
1:48 [m. 43]--Climactic passage
ending with plaintive first violin lines, as at 1:00.
2:02 [m. 53]--Final cadence
phrase ending with G-major chords, as at 1:13.
B Section (“Trio”)--G major
2:13 [m. 61]--Part 1. The
middle section is a gentle, rustic dance with a discernible Slavonic
character. It is set in the major key. The cello provides a
drone-like bass with arching arpeggios throughout. The violas
lead, and the violins follow, completing the musical phrase. The
violas dovetail back for a second phrase that the violins also
complete. This phrase moves to B minor. The following viola
entry shifts this to B major, whereupon an arpeggio on a “diminished
seventh” from cello and first viola aids in the transition back to G
major for the repeat, and completes a twelve-bar phrase.
2:30 [m. 61]--Part 1 repeated.
2:47 [m. 73]--Part 2. In
a passage of harmonic ambiguity, the violins and second viola hold long
notes while the cello and first viola play arpeggios. At first,
B-flat is suggested, but then the arpeggios are shifted up a half-step,
indicating that they will again arrive on B.
2:55 [m. 79]--In another
passage of gradual buildup, the harmonies are again shifted, now
suggesting C major. The violins and first viola play a
swinging rhythm against the continuing arpeggios. This culminates
in two descending phrases that both suddenly quiet down. The
first suddenly arrives on the previously expected B minor. The
second reaches a cadence in the home key of G.
3:09 [m. 89]--A small lead-in
that continues the previous swinging rhythm over syncopated repeated
notes emerges into a reprise of the Part 1 material. The second
phrase makes a divergence, avoiding the motion to B minor. The
phrase is extended, with the instruments suggesting a highly chromatic
C major. The second viola and cello become syncopated.
Finally, the music seems to move back to G major with the familiar
swinging rhythm from Part 2. This speeds up and swells, but never
quite arrives fully on G.
3:31 [m. 105]--At the climax,
the first violin reaches up and plunges downward. The second
violin and first viola retain their active motion over long notes in
the second viola and cello. This downward plunge initiates a
transition back to G minor and to the reprise of the main “scherzo”
section. The second viola, then the first violin, turn around and
reach back upward, and the “trio” ends on a suspended dissonance.
Reprise of A Section
3:41 [m. 111]--Part 1.
Melancholy, skittish waltz tune, as at the beginning.
3:58 [m. 123]--Part 1, varied
repeat, with smoother accompaniment lines, as at 0:18 [m. 13].
4:14 [m. 135]--Part 2.
Complementary phrases in C minor and B-flat minor, as at 0:34 and 1:24
4:25 [m. 143]--Passage of
buildup in B-flat minor, as at 0:46 and 1:35 [m. 33].
4:39 [m. 153]--Climactic
passage ending with plaintive first violin lines, as at 1:00 and 1:48
4:52 [m. 163]--Final cadence
phrase ending with G-major chords, as at 1:13 and 2:02 [m. 53].
5:03 [m. 171]--The coda is a
mildly decorated version of the rustic dance material from the “trio”
in G major. After one phrase, the first violin emerges into
isolated rising two-note figures with descending responses from the
inner instruments over syncopated repeated notes (on the “dominant”
note, D) from the cello. As the music becomes ever quieter, the
cello, dovetailing with the first viola, plays an ascending arpeggio on
a “diminished seventh,” but this mild disquiet is quickly dismissed
with a plucked cello chord and two final G-major chords from all
instruments, the first one short, and the second one held longer.
5:26--END OF MOVEMENT [183 mm.]
Movement: Vivace ma non troppo presto (Sonata-Rondo form). B
MINOR--G MAJOR, 2/4 time.
0:00 [m. 1]--Theme 1 (Rondo
Theme). The first viola, lightly accompanied by the second viola
and cello, plays the hushed gypsy-inspired main theme, whose defining
characteristic is its trill-like opening on an upbeat. It begins
in the “wrong” key, B minor, and remains there until the three
instruments reach a half-cadence. It is not the minor-key opening
that is unusual (the main key of the quintet is a major key), but the
fact that it is not centered on G (the center of the 1st and
3rd movements and also heavily present in the 2nd).
0:10 [m. 9]--The violins enter
and begin the theme at the same pitch level, but at a sudden loud
volume and with new harmonies that shift it decisively to the “correct”
key of G major.
0:14 [m. 13]--The instruments
begin a richly harmonized and joyous dance tune in G major, the cello
playing plucked chords. After this full statement, it is given
again at a suddenly quiet level and incorporates the trill-like rhythm
associated with the Rondo Theme. The first violin and first viola
pass the trill-like figures between them, and the cello drops out for
the quiet statement.
0:22 [m. 21]--A sort of
“closing phrase” with slower chords and repeated notes somewhat
obscures the meter. Its repetition rapidly increases in volume,
introducing the trill-like motion again, and plunges downward in full
harmony with powerful accents.
0:33 [m. 31]--The opening
material returns, with the trill figures in the first violin and heavy
off-beat syncopation in the supporting harmonies. Rather than
settling again on B minor, it instead moves to the related major key to
B minor. This happens to be D major, which is the “dominant” of
the home key of G major and where the second theme would be expected to
appear. The trill figures emerge into a sweeping arch, and
three-note descents passed between the two violins lead into the
following triplet rhythm.
0:40 [m. 38]--Transitional
passage. The second violin and first viola introduce a murmuring
triplet rhythm while the second viola and cello play plucked supporting
material. The first violin plays isolated three-note fragments
beginning on upbeats. The material is anchored to a bass note of
A, which is the “dominant” of D major and helps to greatly anticipate
an already expected pull toward D for the second theme.
0:50 [m. 47]--The transitional
passage centered on A continues, with two-note fragments passed between
second violin and first viola, the first violin joining the lower
instruments on the plucked material. The murmuring triplets drop
0:54 [m. 52]--Theme 2. D
major finally clearly emerges here, and the first violin plays the
winding Theme 2 in triplet rhythm. It consists mostly of arching
arpeggios with smooth chord support and light accents on weak
beats. After an initial phrase in which the first violin ends up
shooting farther upward, the triplets are passed to the other
instruments. The second violin descends with them, then the cello
and first viola ascend, and finally the second viola and cello descend
again. They briefly come to rest on a quietly suspended
dissonance (an “augmented sixth” chord).
1:05 [m. 61]--The arching
triplets of Theme 2 erupt in a sudden outburst. The theme is then
extended with strong syncopations in the violins against continuing
triplets in the lower instruments. The first violin then enters
with a plunging arpeggio on the triplet rhythm This leads to a
cadence on D major. The syncopated material and the plunging
arpeggio are stated again, with the arpeggio a step lower and the
cadence shifted to the home key of G major for the return of the Rondo
Theme and the beginning of the development.
1:18 [m. 73]--The music is
suddenly quiet again. In a transition to the Rondo Theme at the
G-major cadence, the trill figures are passed between the two violas
and then to the violins. When the violins get them, they steadily
descend against a very quiet background.
1:26 [m. 81]--Rondo
Theme. It is given in B minor, as at the opening, but the opening
is passed from the first viola to the first violin. The
continuation is given to the first viola as at the opening, but the
second violin is now incorporated into the accompaniment. The
theme is lightly varied and extended by a bar. The first violin
drops out after its isolated participation in the beginning of the
theme. As at the opening, the theme reaches a half-cadence.
1:36 [m. 90]--The half-cadence
in B minor is mysteriously diverted in a new direction with echoes of
the jumping motive directly preceding it. The music becomes even
quieter, and the harmony moves from B minor toward G minor, descending
through B-flat and A. The chords are colorful and subdued, and
the last one is isolated by a rest. It is another suspended and
expectant “augmented sixth” harmony.
1:47 [m. 99]--A section of
quasi-fugal counterpoint begins in G minor. The first violin
plays the dance tune from 0:14 [m. 13] while the second violin and
violas play syncopated lines that incorporate the trill figure.
The cello enters later, also playing the dance tune, the first violin
moving to the syncopated lines. The first viola briefly drops
out, and is the next instrument to play the dance tune.
1:59 [m. 111]--The counterpoint
breaks, and the instruments suddenly quiet down. They begin to
play the trill figures from the Rondo Theme, and suddenly swell in
volume again. Then the trill figures acquire a strong downward
octave leap, and this form is passed between the violins and second
viola over chromatic, syncopated lines in the first viola and
cello. The cello then plays the trill with the octave leap,
passing its syncopated line to the first violin before taking it up
2:09 [m. 119]-- The first
violin begins another statement of the dance tune in C minor, but it is
interrupted by another sudden quieting with all instruments coming
together on the trill figures. Suddenly loud again, the violins
leap up to descending syncopated lines, then again take up the trill
figures. The syncopated lines are then played in all instruments
except the first violin, who again introduces the version of the trill
with the octave leap. The music moves toward D minor and A minor.
2:20 [m. 129]--In A minor, the
trill figures from the Rondo Theme opening are passed forcefully from
the second violin and first viola in unison to the cello. The
first violin and second viola play loud punctuations. The trill
figures then shift down a half-step, and the first violin joins on
them. The now-familiar syncopated lines once again appear.
The same pattern is repeated, this time in C-sharp minor.
2:32 [m. 141]--A slightly
different version of the previous pattern begins in B-flat minor.
It is again in an intricate counterpoint. It culminates in a
forceful rising passage with heavy syncopation. After two more
bars of trills, the forceful rising passage reaches even higher with
its syncopations and moves to the “dominant” harmony of B minor,
signaling the return of the opening key and the re-transition out of
the development section.
2:44 [m. 153]--The opening of
the Rondo Theme itself sneaks into the viola parts over the “dominant”
harmony of the opening key, B minor. The first viola continues
the thematic material, and the other instruments introduce long-short
dotted rhythms. The cello plays a syncopated repetition of the
“dominant” note (which is F-sharp). As the energy culminates,
with the upper instruments suddenly moving together, the strong buildup
is abruptly arrested, leaving the first violin and cello on bare
F-sharps four octaves apart.
2:56 [m. 164]--Re-transition.
It is highly similar to the transition into the development from 1:18 [m.
73]. It is quiet and based on the trill figures from the opening
theme. The cello drops from F-sharp to D, the “dominant” of the
home key of G major. The first violin stays on F-sharp, which is
a common note to the chords of B minor and G major. The inner
instruments surreptitiously enter on the trill figures. Then, as
the violas descend in harmonized trill figures, an actual trill is heard in the first
3:03 [m. 170]--The trill
emphasizes the cadence onto G major, and the dance tune from 0:14 [m.
13], rather than the Rondo Theme (which was worked into the
re-transition material) serves as “Theme 1.” The pattern is
reversed from the exposition, however, as the version with the trill
figures is played first, high in the first violin with smooth and
syncopated accompaniment. The first viola then plays the tune,
the second viola dovetailing with the trill figures. Against
this, the first violin plays the “original” version, but with plucked
strings. The accompanying second violin and cello are also
3:12 [m. 178]--The “closing
phrase” from 0:22 [m. 21] is now heard with subtle rescoring, most
notably the persistent presence of the trill figures in the second
violin and first viola. This causes the meter to be less obscured
than it was before at this point. The “downward plunge” with
sharp accents now also uses the trill figures. It suddenly merges
into the three-note descents heard just before the transitional
passage, the intervening appearance of the opening material from 0:33
[m. 31] being omitted.
3:25 [m. 190]--Transitional
passage. It is similar to 0:40 [m. 38], but is now over a bass
note of D, as the second theme will appear in the home key of G.
The murmuring triplets are now in the two violins, and the three-note
upbeat fragments are played in octaves by the two violas, the cello
alone taking the plucked supporting material.
3:36 [m. 199]--Analogous to
0:50 [m. 47]. Here, the two-note fragments are passed between the
two violins, all three lower instruments playing the off--beat plucked
3:40 [m. 204]--Theme 2.
Besides being in the home key, it is now played by the first viola
instead of the first violin. The first violin joins the smooth
chord support. As the first violin had done, the first viola also
shoots upward. The following triplets are also rescored.
The first descent is taken by the second viola, the ascent by the cello
and first violin, and the last descent also by second viola
(alone). As in the exposition, the instruments come together on
the suspended “augmented sixth” harmony.
3:52 [m. 213]--As at 1:05 [m.
61], there is a sudden outburst on the Theme 2 triplets. They are
now played by their original instrument, the first violin. The
first violin also takes a greater role in the syncopated lines than it
had in the exposition. The first plunging arpeggio leads to a
cadence in G major, as expected, though the arpeggio itself is slightly
varied. The second is greatly altered, and seems to want to move
away from G major, first possibly to C major and then to the ubiquitous
B minor. The trill figures of the Rondo Theme enter in the second
viola overlapping with the arpeggio, which they had not done before.
4:05 [m. 225]--The overlapping
trill figures emerge into a long transition using them. They are
passed from the violas to the violins, becoming ever quieter.
Finally, they come together, not in B minor, but in B major. The Rondo Theme itself
is then unexpectedly played in the B-major key, extremely lightly and
quietly, with short, almost tremolo
repeated notes as accompaniment. The theme is expanded, with the
trills and short notes in different instruments at different times, and
then there is a rapid and dramatic crescendo.
4:20 [m. 239]--The first violin
begins a staggered scale descent over the “dominant” harmony of B
major. Then the other four instruments join in the scale, all
five playing in a massive unison. While the descent is staggered,
with turns back upward between groups of four, the following ascent is
straight and continuous. The ascending scale cuts off and is
followed by two huge “dominant” chords that create a great expectation
for a grand arrival and cadence in B major. This is thwarted with
the arrival of the coda.
4:28 [m. 248]--The melody note
arrives on B as expected, but the harmony underneath it is G major, a
“deceptive” cadence that finally and firmly establishes the quintet’s
home key. The coda begins with a new “gypsy” theme with stamping
chords after the beat in the violas and a steady cello bass, the
violins taking the heavily accented theme itself. It is given
twice, using five-bar phrases in a blatant gypsy homage.
4:36 [m. 257]--The upbeat of
the dance tune originally heard at 0:14 [m. 13] comes immediately after
the final downbeat of the new “gypsy” tune. The dance tune is
played more vigorously than ever, and after one four-bar phrase it
leads to the trill figures of the Rondo Theme, which also complete a
four-bar phrase. In the dance tune, the violas and violins
continue to alternate the two-note groups. At the very end of the
Rondo Theme phrase, the trill figures are passed to the violas so that
the violins can “breathe.”
4:44 [m. 266]--The “gypsy” tune
is heard again, beginning with a downward scale flourish on the first
violin. The violas now play continuous winding notes based on the
trill figures, and the cello plays leaping octaves. The second
phrase is expanded to seven bars by repeating segments of the tune, the
first violin reaching ever higher before cascading downward to four
strong chords. The Rondo Theme trill figures overlap the last of
these chords in the second violin and first viola.
4:54 [m. 278]--The trill
figures from the Rondo Theme have the last word, twice working steadily
and feverishly upward and then back down. Against them, an actual
(faster) trill is heard in the first viola, then high in the first
violin. The first violin trill leads to a G-major chord that is
sharply cut off. There are then two final chords from all
instruments, the second of which is held three beats. The last of
these is a downbeat to compensate for the upbeat with which the
5:12--END OF MOVEMENT [287 mm.]
END OF QUINTET
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