EIGHT PIANO PIECES (KLAVIERSTÜCKE), OP. 76
Recording: Martin Jones, pianist [NI 1788]
After a long hiatus that included the German Requiem, the first two
symphonies, and other major works, Brahms finally returned to
composition for solo piano in the late 1870s. The Nineteenth
Century saw the rise of the short piano piece, sometimes called a
“character piece,” as a quintessential genre, exemplified by
such as Schumann, Chopin, and Liszt. All of Brahms’s
solo piano output would be devoted to such pieces: the two sets
this period, Opp. 76 and 79, and then the very late outpouring in
116-119. In these pieces, Brahms was as generic as possible
his titles, wishing to avoid programmatic associations. Op.
contains four each of pieces labeled “Capriccio” and
“Intermezzo.” The Capriccios are faster and more dramatic,
generally looser in form, while the Intermezzi are more
and clear-cut. In contrast to the straightforward ternary
seen in the late pieces, Op. 76 exhibits more developmental
and variations on binary and sonata forms. No. 2, though in
minor key, is the most lighthearted of the Capriccios. It
more indebted to Schubert than to Schumann and Chopin, whose
are palpable in the other pieces. Brahms experiments with
and meter throughout the set, nowhere more so than in the
metric virtuosity of No. 5. The framing Capriccios Nos. 1
have similar forms, but opposite characters. The ominous,
No. 1 contrasts effectively with the breathless, perpetual
motion of No. 8. Of the Intermezzi, the wistful No. 4 is
for firmly establishing its home key at a very late point.
creates ethereal sounds with bell-like chords over a high, static
hand. No. 7 subtly connects the solemnity of its framing
with its leisurely main melody. No. 6, the Intermezzo in A
contains some similarities to the later, more familiar Intermezzo
that key (Op. 118, No. 2). The ordering makes dramatic,
and tonal sense when the set is played in its entirety, but the
are also effective when performed individually.
FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut
SCORE FROM IMSLP (First Edition
[monochrome] from Russian State Library)
SCORE FROM IMSLP (from Breitkopf &
Härtel Sämtliche Werke)
1. CAPRICCIO. Un poco
agitato. Unruhig bewegt [With restless motion].
form with developmental middle section). F-SHARP MINOR,
First Section (“Exposition”)
0:00 [m. 1]--Theme 1 (A).
The opening section is a series of winding arpeggios that retain
same contour. The left hand arrival on the second half of
bar coincides with the entry of the right hand, which always
under below. A descending set of three notes, repeated up an
octave, remains constant in the left-hand portions. These
the same F-sharp minor pitches for four bars, then move downward
half-step. After beginning sotto
voce, the arpeggios build gradually but powerfully, the
coming at the arrival of the “dominant” key of C-sharp major
brightens from C-sharp minor).
0:24 [m. 9]--At the
there are four rising statements of the
descending three-note group, the right hand taking the last two
the left hand doubling below. At the top, the hands descend
together in a cascading arpeggio that incorporates the three-note
group. The left hand drops out at the bottom. There
three slower descending groups from the right hand, the first note
which is harmonized. The first of these is very
These slower figures lead into the second theme.
0:36 [m. 14]--Theme 2 (B).
Because this second idea is actually the “main” theme of the piece
because it is heard in the home key, the form of the piece is not
“sonata” design. The theme itself is based on its initial
four-note group, which rises, then turns down a half-step on the
note. This is spun out into a true melody with flowing
accompanied by descending lines that begin off the beat and are
initially based on the three-note descending groups. Like
1, the passage moves to C-sharp minor/major.
Second Section (“Development”)--based on Theme
1:04 [m. 26]--Development
Theme 2 with the four opening melodic
notes entering off the beat with their descending accompaniment
figures. The passage begins in the home key of F-sharp
moving to the distant keys of A, C, and G minor. A large
in speed and volume is arrested by a suddenly slower passage with
twice as long. Four bar-length harmonized notes turn the
four-note group of Theme 2’s melody upside down. This
in D minor/major.
1:37 [m. 42]--The
Theme 2 just introduced is now
incorporated in the original rhythm with faster notes. The
inverted theme itself is heard in an inner voice, with the
three-note groups (also turned upside down and now ascending)
them. The left hand plays descending arpeggios.
in the home key, it moves to another slowing climax that suggests
related A major before settling onto the anticipatory “dominant”
in preparation for the return of Theme 1 in F-sharp minor.
Third Section (“Recapitulation”)
2:03 [m. 52]--Theme 1 (A).
Essentially, the voicing is inverted. The right hand plays
first half of each bar on the original pitches, but the left hand
responds at an even lower level and, unlike the opening, the
portions not only begin below, but remain there. After three
bars, the right hand becomes decorative, abandoning the descending
three-note groups. There are isolated high notes. The
responding left hand arpeggios retain the harmony and contour of
right hand groups from the opening.
2:21 [m. 60]--The climax,
time of the entire piece, arrives with
long held chords in the left hand against the continuing
the right. The first left hand chord is in the middle range,
second in the bass and rolled. The climax recedes and
quickly, slowing down for the entry of Theme 2.
2:31 [m. 64]--Theme 2 (B).
The opening four notes are isolated, harmonized, and played three
in a descending sequence. The left hand plays the familiar
three-note descents from Theme 1 in octaves, their length
twice their normal note values. Suggestions of the major key
enhance the respite provided by the slower motion. After the
third statement of the harmonized four-note opening, the chords
continue in a brief bridge suggesting the continuation of Theme
2. The entire passage is quiet and smooth.
2:54 [m. 72]--The four
notes from Theme 2 are again heard in a
sequence of three descending statements, this time played and
harmonized by the left hand in a middle voice. The right
arching decorations above each statement. These begin with
descending three-note figure, twice passed up an octave, and end
cascading arpeggios. The harmony wavers between major and
but now leans toward major. The quiet, smooth motion, though
3:08 [m. 78]--The last
statement of the preceding sequence dissolves
into a gentle coda. The right hand decorations become
three-note descending arpeggios that move lower and lower down the
keyboard until settling somewhat in the lower middle range.
left hand abandons the four-note melody and plays low
first two (beginning with m. 79) are rolled, and the next two have
resolving inner voice. The major-minor mixture continues
the last three descending chords, which are major, not minor.
3:42--END OF PIECE [85 mm.]
Allegretto non troppo (Arch-like Rondo form). B MINOR, 2/4
0:00 [m. 1]--Theme 1 (A).
A skittish tune with detached staccato notes. Bass notes
to higher chords in the left hand, a continuing pattern.
are accented, longer chords on the second beats of the second and
fourth bars. The fifth bar introduces a harmonization in
that will become more prominent. This phrase is extended to
double length by a reiteration of a long-short-short pattern that
oscillates, then gradually descends, mixing major and minor.
moves to the “dominant” key, F-sharp, before a single-line
to the repeat.
0:18 [m. 1]--Theme 1 (A)
repeated. The single-line transition in the last two bars is
altered to move to D major for Theme 2.
0:35 [m. 13]--Theme 2 (B).
This new tune uses the harmonization in thirds heard
is in D major, the relative major key to B minor. It
some mid-range figures in the long-short-short rhythm. These
to another single-line transition similar to those at the end of
repetition of Theme 1.
0:47 [m. 21]--Theme 2 (B)
repeated, with the closing transition altered, then
extension, five bars in length, adds a second voice in the left
hand. It is a steady ascent heard twice. The second
initially shifted up a half-step, then continues past the mark of
first. Motion back to B minor.
1:05 [m. 34]--Theme 1 (A).
Theme 1 returns in slightly varied form. The right hand
in the first two bars are changed, and add syncopated
The left hand patterns reverse direction, and are now descending
in the first four bars. The bass notes leaping to chords
at the fifth bar with the harmonization in thirds. The
the long-short-short pattern is different, and is now more
unambiguously in major. The transition is very different, a
static murmuring that gradually calms.
1:22 [m. 46]--Theme 3 (C).
Brahms marks this central section più
tranquillo and espressivo.
rhapsodic melody in C major--a key whose arrival is surprising--it
has several striking chromatic notes. Ingeniously, the
staccato of the main themes is transferred to a middle voice that
down to the bass as the melody descends. It begins with the
murmuring from the preceding transition.
1:36 [m. 54]--The C-major
melody is repeated and extended. It
begins in a similar manner, but cuts off the downbeats and adds
notes. The melody diverges after the fourth bar, propelled
light syncopation. Moving first to B-flat major, it is again
diverted, this time back home to B. It is, however,
the major-mode version of that key. Highly decorated lines
turning figures mark a gentle, tranquil transition back to the
themes. The staccato notes slow down over a huge arching
at the end.
2:01 [m. 67]--Theme 2 (B), in
the main tempo. It is heard in its entirety, now in B
major. The left-hand accompaniment is different. The
pattern is abandoned in favor of short, detached rising
arpeggios. The transition is again varied, essentially
direction. It remains in the low register and contains large
2:12 [m. 75]--A large
to the transition from Theme 2.
It gains intensity and reaches the only real climax in the
The culmination is a large chromatic scale (skipping no notes),
suggested earlier in the transition and extension, split between
hands. Every second note of this scale is punctuated by
harmonies of narrowing, increasingly dissonant intervals. A
end, the scale is arrested. The notes, with narrow,
harmonies still on every second one, oscillate for one bar as they
quiet down from the climax. Then the chromatic scale resumes, now
interrupted by the dissonant intervals, for a final four notes.
2:23 [m. 83]--Theme 1 (A).
The arrival from the chromatic scale is very fulfilling. The
music is still in B, but now again in minor. In a very
variation, Brahms places the melody in an inner voice, under sets
repeated notes, then sets of repeated chords. The melody
shifts down an octave in the third bar. The passage must be
played with “wrist staccato.” There are accented
held between the second and third, then the fourth and fifth
bars. The left hand now leaps up not to a chord, but to the
of a descending arpeggio, filling each beat with four notes.
2:28 [m. 87]--The
of Theme 1 from the fifth bar is also
varied. All is still an octave lower than before. The
voice continues for two bars with syncopations. The last
the left hand figures is cut off, leaving only three. In the
bar, the previous long-short-short pattern is replaced by three
short notes following a downbeat rest. The left hand figures
widely ascend. The transition has the right hand
over into the bass and alternating with punctuating mid-range left
2:39 [m. 95]--Theme 1 (A) in
another very creative variation. The first four bars are
recognizable as the theme, but they follow the pattern of the
transition, alternating right hand leaps with left hand chords in
large ascents up the keyboard from bass to treble.
2:44 [m. 99]--Continuation
Theme 1. It is similar to what was
heard from the fifth bar of 1:05 [m. 34], but the longer note at
beginning of the first two figures is cut in half, leaving rests
beginnings of the first two bars. The leaping
figure returns in major, with a more active chromatic middle
voice. The passage itself is extended three bars, forgoing
transition and reaching down the keyboard, growing steadily
2:57 [m. 108]--Coda.
statements of the opening bar of Theme
2, interrupted by the leaping long-short-short figure from Theme
1. The second statement of the Theme 2 opening is an octave
than the first.
3:02 [m. 111]--The
response to the second reference to Theme 2
is also the leaping long-short-short figure from Theme 1.
response, however, launches an extended meditation on that figure
a highly chromatic middle voice. The figures remain in the
range, slowing and softening until the very end, where two
descending leaps are placed higher. The third and final
leap is slower and firmly establishes the major key (B major) that
essentially been in force since the beginning of the coda.
however, a somewhat inconclusive and questioning gesture.
3:30--END OF PIECE [119 mm.]
Grazioso. Anmutig [Gracefully]. Ausdrucksvoll [With
expression]. (Binary form). A-FLAT MAJOR, 4/4 time
four 3/2 bars at the end.
0:00 [m. 1]--The piece’s
character is immediately established.
The left hand is in the high middle range, using the treble
It plays a continuous arching pattern, twice in each bar.
first and fourth notes of each left hand pattern are a rolled
harmony. The right hand plays very high chords after the
creating a continuous, floating syncopation. The chords move
chromatically in groups for the first three bars. The
are regular, but the phrase is asymmetrical, lasting five
In the last two bars, the right hand chords are rolled, leaping
instead of sliding down, and dovetailing with the left hand. The
left hand note, A-flat, remains constant before moving down three
in the last two bars.
0:24 [m. 6]--The second
five-bar phrase begins like the first one, and
the first two bars are identical. From the third bar, it
digresses. There are no upward leaps. Instead, the
hand chords leap down beautifully to a static fourth bar. It
diminishes in volume, slows down, and moves to a darker C
The left hand makes a wide descent in the last two bars, moving
to the bass range. In the last bar, the right hand chords
move down to the middle range.
0:50 [m. 11]--A
phrase serves as a closing “theme.”
It shifts immediately back to A-flat major at the beginning.
right hand plays winding triplets (groups of three in the normal
of two), while the left hand leaps up, then descends in syncopated
rhythm. This phrase is also five bars. The last three
introduce embellished right hand chords and reach higher for a
“climax” with chromatic tinges.
1:12 [m. 16]--Phrase
to the opening, arriving seamlessly from
the preceding “closing.”
1:35 [m. 21]--Phrase very
similar to 0:24 [m. 6], but it digresses
already in the second bar instead of the third, reaching very high
becoming almost ecstatic before again moving to C minor. The
hand is not changed much. The last bar is similar in
but changed to move back to A-flat major before the closing
that the shift is not as abrupt.
2:02 [m. 26]--The
closing phrase is greatly varied from
0:50 [m. 11]. The first bar is the same, but in the second
the meter is suddenly broadened to 3/2, creating a more profound
slowing effect. The syncopated left hand and right hand
are still there, but the latter are somewhat delayed in each bar
the former now leap down, then move up, reversing the pattern from
before. The phrase moves down quite low, without the
rising “climax” heard in Part 1. The third bar unexpectedly
shifts keys strongly, to D-flat, before the last two bars wrench
music back home to A-flat for an extremely beautiful cadence with
delayed resolutions. The final chord moves back to the high
2:49--END OF PIECE [30 mm.]
Allegretto grazioso (Ternary form with sonata aspects).
MAJOR, 2/4 time.
First Section (“Exposition”)
0:00 [m. 1]--The main
is based on descending arpeggios split
between the hands, above which the melody floats. The melody
itself is based on a leaping dotted (long-short) rhythm beginning
upbeat. The left hand has syncopations in the middle of each
the first four bars. The bass line then becomes
key of B-flat is never explicit, suggested only by harmonies such
the defining “dominant,” with which the piece begins. It
resolves, and the melody moves to a cadence in the relative G
0:22 [m. 13]--This
G-minor passage is more like a concluding
phrase than a second “theme.” It is based on repeated
harmonies (thirds, fourths, and sixths) in the middle range.
left hand leaps up and down in long-short-short rhythm. The
quiet passage becomes slightly faster until the end. There
many chromatic notes, and a downward slide in the bass at the very
helps lead into the repeat.
First Section (“Exposition”) repeated
0:34 [m. 1]--Repetition of
0:54 [m. 13]--Repetition
G-minor concluding phrase. The
downward slide now leads to C-flat major.
Second Section (“Development”)
1:06 [m. 21]--Development
the main material in the remote key of
C-flat major. There are left hand syncopations in the middle
each bar. There is a very gentle crescendo after four bars.
1:16 [m. 27]--The small
still in C-flat major, incorporates
elements of the concluding phrase in a middle voice. The
slides down and settles into the (implied) home key of B-flat.
Third Section (“Recapitulation”)
1:25 [m. 33]--The opening
material in its original form emerges
seamlessly from the preceding development. After it emerges,
follows the first section closely until the last three bars, which
artfully manipulated to arrive (finally) at the actual, not
harmony of B-flat instead of G minor.
1:45 [m. 45]--The
phrase is highly varied. It is in
B-flat, but the many chromatic notes obscure whether or not it is
or minor (in the “exposition,” the G minor was quite clear).
contour of the right hand is altered in subtle ways. It
becomes slightly faster. The closing is expanded by three
create an eleven-bar phrase. The expansion is a light rising
arpeggio on chords of E-flat minor (which suggests a B-flat minor key), speeding up
slightly. Only the last two punctuating high chords and the
low octave definitively confirm B-flat major. Brahms has obscured
the home key until the end of the piece.
2:09--END OF PIECE [55 mm.]
Agitato, ma non troppo presto. Sehr aufgeregt, doch nicht
schnell [Very agitated, but not too fast]. (Alternating
rondo-like form [ABA’B’A”-Coda]). C-SHARP MINOR, 6/8 and
Most of the piece is an
extreme illustration of the “hemiola” principle, where the six
each measure are either divided into two groups of three (6/8) or
groups of two (3/4), and these divisions clash with each
Although 6/8 is indicated as the meter, most of the piece is a
of 6/8 and 3/4. In the B’
and A” sections, the
shifts to 2/4, a sort of “compromise” that removes the metrical
0:00 [m. 1]--Theme 1 (A).
The passionate melody in the right hand, beginning with an upbeat
moving steadily up the scale, is in a 3/4 subdivision despite the
indication. After the initial rise, it leaps up and down,
moves steadily downward. The low bass notes indicate a 6/8
subdivision. The active, running middle voice, played mostly
under the melody by the right hand, can be grouped either way for
first four bars, but then settles (mostly) with the bass on
It is highly chromatic and dynamic.
0:12 [m. 9]--The second,
parallel phrase of Theme 1 begins as had the
first, but reaches higher and adds two syncopations in the top 3/4
melody. It moves in the direction of the related major key,
major. It is also extended by two bars in a slight
before Theme 2 begins.
0:25 [m. 19]--Theme 2 (B).
Return to C-sharp minor. The mixture of 6/8 and 3/4 among
clashing voices is abandoned for the second theme. Instead,
two “meters” alternate. The first two measures are a
syncopation suggesting 3/4 in both hands. The next two bars,
a faster running middle voice, are unambiguously in the 6/8
grouping. This pattern is repeated at a higher level in
0:38 [m. 27]--A third
at a higher level (D-sharp minor)
begins. After the first unambiguous 6/8 bar, the pattern is
broken with a measure of hammering chords in the 3/4
Yet another running 6/8 bar is followed by two more bars of
chords, but the first one remains grouped in 6/8 while the second
begins to create a clash between the hands, the right in 3/4, the
in 6/8. The next three bars are a transition,
cascading octaves on G-sharp in the right hand and dramatically
octave scales in the left. There is a highly anticipatory
before Theme 1 begins again.
0:52 [m. 37]--Theme 1 (A’).
Other than an initial bass note on the upbeat, the first phrase is
1:02 [m. 45]--The second
begins as at 0:12 [m. 9], but the leaps
up and down are replaced by another scale ascent that leaps up at
end. The following downward motion is similar to what has
heard before, but it settles onto another related key, G-sharp
instead of the brighter E major. The cadence becomes more
and relaxed than it did before 0:25 [m. 19].
1:13 [m. 53]--Theme 1 is
extended by two more tranquil phrases in a
sort of respite from the storminess of the rest of the
the first phrase, the metrical conflict continues, but the
line in G-sharp minor is very smooth, despite some hesitant
notes at the end. The left hand has continuous rising groups
three. These are quite wide-ranging.
1:24 [m. 61]--The second
extending phrase removes the metrical conflict
for its first half. The right hand emerges into an extremely
gentle melody in clear 6/8, matching the left hand. It is in
major, providing a break from the dark minor mode. The right
moves back to 3/4 groupings in the second half of the phrase,
slows down and moves back to G-sharp minor, coming to a half-close
1:39 [m. 69]--Theme 2 (B’). The
harmonies, key, and character follow the theme’s first appearance,
there is a radical change in the metric alternation. The
sustained syncopation begins things as before, but the responding
are in a new (notated) 2/4 meter. Although these responses
syncopated, they have no metric conflict. The 2/4 is a sort
“bridge” between the previous clashing groups. The responses
now breathless chords rather than a running flow. The first
alternations follow the harmonic pattern that was heard at 0:25
19]. The metric alternation is actually indicated with time
1:52 [m. 77]--The
character are analogous to 0:38 [m.
27]. The pattern at the higher level (D-sharp minor) begins,
after the first bar with the syncopation in implied 3/4, the 6/8
signature and the clashing meters themselves are abandoned from
until the coda. The remainder of the passage, with the
chords and dramatic rise to the anticipatory pause, are in
2/4, although there is much syncopation. The buildup to the
has a more active right hand replacing the octaves.
2:07 [m. 87]--Theme 1 (A”).
Theme 1 is very recognizable, but it is now in 2/4 in both
The right hand melody is in octaves, beginning off the beat in
for a very breathless effect. The left hand is very active,
wide leaps as well as narrow chromatic motion.
2:19 [m. 95]--The second
of Theme 1 in its 2/4 version reaches
higher than ever with its octaves. As in its first
moves to a major key, but this time it is the home major key based
C-sharp. The actual thematic material is developed here, and
music reaches a nearly ecstatic pitch. The entries off the
in each bar continue from the previous phrase.
2:32 [m. 103]--In an
phrase, the off-beat entries are
abandoned for jubilant rolled chords in the right hand The
hand also adds low rolled octaves. A slow dotted rhythm is
for the first four bars. In the second half of the phrase,
joyous climax recedes, and the music thins out. Gentle right
syncopations and slow triplets in the left hand (in the last two
slow down and lead to a brief pause.
2:48 [m. 111]--Coda.
minor mode returns, as does (finally) the
6/8 meter, but the latter is almost meaningless. The coda is
a tour de force that
obscures any meter. Three repeated bass octave descents in
of five (the third in a higher register) are played against
right hand figuration (based on Theme 1) that is grouped with
bass fives. A fourth left hand descent that is yet another
higher adds a note to create a six-note group and temporarily
some sense of meter. After this, however, the right hand
three feverish patterns in duple grouping. The right hand
steadily and dramatically upward. The entire passage rises
volume and speed. The last right hand group is in a triple
grouping, bringing the hands together metrically for the final,
powerful bass octaves and responding chords.
3:14--END OF PIECE [117 mm.]
Andante con moto. Sanft bewegt [Gently moving].
form, with an enclosed rounded binary structure in the outer
sections). A MAJOR, 2/4 time.
A Section--A major
0:00 [m. 1]--Part 1.
melody is concealed within flowing
triplet groups that go against the main 2/4 meter. It begins
an upbeat and arches up and down, both within the triplet groups
the larger melody itself. The fifth bar converts the
into three groups of two for an implied 3/4. Against all of
the left hand plays descending groups of two octaves or thirds
enter in syncopation against the triplets and hold notes over bar
lines. In the last three bars of the phrase, the right hand
to straight 2/4, and the triplets are transferred to the left,
bass octaves entering in the seventh bar. Despite the
metric conflicts, the phrase is gentle and flowing, coming to a
on the “dominant,” E major.
0:20 [m. 1]--Part 1
0:38 [m. 9]--Part 2.
first phrase of Part 2 (which is twice
the length of Part 1) abruptly shifts to C-sharp major. It
re-establishes the opening pattern for two bars. The next
bars, however, which build in intensity, use the 3-beat grouping
the fifth bar of Part 1 in the right hand. The first note of
group is harmonized below. The left hand plays straight bass
octaves in a descending chromatic line against this. There
two bars of slowing, leading to a pause and a half close in
C-sharp. These also use the 3-beat grouping, with syncopated
rising notes in the left hand.
0:58 [m. 17]-- The second
phrase of Part 2 is similar to Part 1.
It begins with another abrupt shift in key, back home to A
The first two bars are identical to Part 1, but the harmony is
thereafter so that the phrase can end in the home key. The
bars, with the straight 2/4 in the right hand, are more rich and
expressive than they are in Part 1.
1:17 [m. 9]--Part 2
repeated. Repetition of the first phrase.
1:37 [m. 17]--Repetition
B Section--F-sharp minor
1:57 [m. 25]--The B section
uses consistent groupings of two against three. The right
in straight 2/4. The left hand is in triplet groups, each
going against two right hand notes. The melody in the right
is melancholy and flowing, with several embellishing grace
The left hand has wide, smooth arpeggios. The phrase is
into two sequential halves, the second built on the “dominant” key
C-sharp and extended by one bar leading into the next phrase.
2:13 [m. 34]--Exact
of the previous nine-bar phrase after an
initial rolled chord.
2:27 [m. 43]--Contrasting
ten-bar phrase of rising intensity, based on
the same material. At the climax, a middle voice is
It plays first in the straight rhythm, then in the triplets.
phrase delays any sort of resolution, with many chromatic notes
increasing the harmonic as well as the dramatic tension.
2:43 [m. 53]--A six-bar
extension finally brings resolution onto a
delayed, but strong cadence in F-sharp minor. The intensity
settles down for a full, self-contained close to the B section.
A Section--A major
2:56 [m. 59]--Part 1, as
0:00 [m. 1]. There is a rest before
the upbeat, so that entire bar is counted here, extending the
phrase to nine bars instead of eight. It is not repeated.
3:14 [m. 68]--Part 2,
phrase, as at 0:38 [m. 9].
3:34 [m. 76]--Part 2,
phrase, as at 0:58 [m. 17]. No
repetition of Part 2.
3:53 [m. 84]--Coda, based
section. The melody is transformed into a bright major-key
version. The two-against three pattern is preserved. A
middle voice is added. It settles down onto a repeated
with syncopated triplets in the bass and straight-rhythm
with biting dissonances in the middle voice. The lowest bass
is reiterated six times. There is a steady decrease in
volume. The final gesture makes reference to the opening
of the main A section melody.
4:22--END OF PIECE [92 mm.]
Moderato semplice (Rounded binary form with framing introduction
coda). A MINOR, Cut time (2/2) with one 3/2 bar.
0:00 [m. 1]--Introduction.
solemn, chorale-like melody in
rich chords begins on an upbeat. The initial chord gesture
connected to the next by an active middle voice that oscillates on
half-step. The second gesture echoes the first an octave
lower. Again, the middle voice connects it to the third
entry, which begins like the first, but is twice as long and
syncopation. The connecting idea is then transferred to bass
octaves, which lead to the fourth and final chord entry and a
close to the introduction.
0:23 [m. 9]--Part 1.
begins with an upbeat on a syncopated,
oscillating gesture. We hear that it is derived from
connecting half-step motion from the introduction, especially its
appearance in the bass. The idea is developed into a
strangely melancholy melody that continues to incorporate the
oscillating gesture with its syncopations. The left hand
accompanies with rising arpeggios. Motion at the end to the
relative major key of C.
0:38 [m. 9]--Part 1
0:53 [m. 17]--Part
beginning is transitional.
Isolated two-note gestures from the main melody are
melody itself is briefly transferred to the left hand. The
accompanying arpeggios begin to reach into the right hand
The culmination is on a long, winding arpeggio in the left hand
highly syncopated chords (derived from the main melody) in the
right. The last transitional bar is extended by a beat in
preparation for the re-entry of the melody. It is notated as
3/2 measure (m. 23). The next bar, m. 24, completes the
transition and contains the upbeat to the main melody.
1:09 [m. 25]--Return of
main melody. After the first two
bars, it is altered so that it will remain on A minor rather than
moving to C. The altered portion contains an increase of
intensity. It then settles down to the cadence. There
four-bar extension (three of which are notated as a first ending)
serves to emphasize the ending and then to transition back to the
C-major beginning of Part 2 for the repeat.
1:30 [m. 17 (36-37)]--Part
repeated. The first ending leads to
the transitional passage from 0:53.
1:46 [m. 25]--Return of
main melody. The four-bar extension
at the end is altered (notated as a second ending) and extended to
bars. The last two of these hover as the middle voice
oscillates. The music trails off to a very weak A-minor
before a pause.
2:13 [m. 38]--Coda.
Identical to the introductory chorale.
The first part of the upbeat bar contains a rest, so it is
the measure numbering here.
2:43--END OF PIECE [46 mm.]
CAPRICCIO. Grazioso ed un poco vivace. Anmutig
[Graceful and lively]. (Mixture of ternary and sonata
form). C MAJOR, 6/4 time.
First Section (“Exposition”)
0:00 [m. 1]--Theme
piece is ambiguous in both meter and
key. The flow of the 6/4 meter is constant, but the
at the outset suggests three groups of two rather than the more
two groups of three beats. Even with this grouping, it is
syncopated, with the strongest emphasis (through accents or large
leaps) on the second, fourth, and sixth beats, especially the
where at least one note is always held over the bar into the
downbeat. In fact, the piece begins with an accented upbeat
the sixth beat. The grouping of the wide left hand arpeggios
suggests 3x2 rather than 2x3. In addition, while the
suggest C major, that key is not unambiguously established with
0:20 [m. 9]--From this
the grouping shifts somewhat to 2x3, and
the motion within each bar is generally downward. After
bars, in m. 12, there are accents on the third beat (held into the
beginning of the fourth), confirming the shift in grouping.
addition to C major, the harmonies have also suggested F, and it
that key that the section ends, with a quieting and slowing of the
exuberant pace and a cadence after an irregular seven-bar
The last bar suggests the next section, but leads to the repeat.
First Section (“Exposition”) repeated
0:36 [m. 1]--Seamless
repetition of Theme 1, flowing from the first
ending of the section (m. 15).
0:53 [m. 9]--Repetition of
passage from 0:20, with the last bar (the
second ending, also m. 15) also functioning as the first bar of
Second Section (“Development”)
1:07 [mm. 15-16]--Theme 2
major). It emerges from the last bar
of the first section, with repeated chords emphasizing the second,
fourth, and sixth beats. The left hand continues the 2x3
grouping, with its arpeggios arching up and then back down.
quiet, intense sotto voce
chords continue for four bars.
1:17 [m. 19]--A new idea
renewed animation. One bar of
rising thirds comes back down in sixths during the next bar.
idea is then spun out more freely over two more bars with light
syncopation. There is another slowing as an apparent cadence
major is interrupted.
1:27 [m. 23]--The chord
from 1:07 [m. 15] enters again with an
abrupt shift to the key of A-flat major. The level is
quiet, but the harmonies and rhythms are very tense.
1:37 [m. 27]--The new idea
1:17 [m. 19] is developed with fuller
chords and an accompaniment incorporating left hand octaves.
downward descent in the second bar is delayed until the third for
another harmonic shift, this time toward B major. A sudden
moment in that key brings back the chord idea, which now slides
the figuration from the first section and alternates with it
twice. The first section material is heard under the chord
in the left hand before becoming more explicit in the right.
1:53 [m. 34]--Re-transition.
music now begins to move back to
the key area of the first section, a motion already begun at the
the previous alternation. Beginning in A minor, four
of the chord idea are heard over a re-establishment of the 3x2
in the left hand. These occur over a quick and powerful
crescendo. The climax happens as two cascading arpeggios are
played against the last two statements of the chord idea.
second begins two octaves higher and uses triplet rhythms (three
on each beat) to incorporate more descending notes.
Third Section (“Recapitulation”)
2:00 [m. 38]--Theme
varied, but highly recognizable return
of the main theme. The initial accented upbeat is the same
last chord in the previous section, creating a very smooth
transition. The primary characteristic, the accented
on the last (sixth) beat of each bar, returns, but is further
emphasized by huge leaps leading into a joyous descending line in
chords that was not present in the first section. After four
bars, there is a sudden diminishing as the right hand
The 3x2 grouping becomes explicit, both in the left hand arpeggios
the wide leaps of the right hand.
2:13 [m. 44]--The left
plays a new chord idea in the 2x3 grouping
in F major. The chords are in the middle range. The
hand continues its figuration above. After two bars, the
of the chord idea shifts back toward C major, which has still not
completely confirmed as the key of the piece.
2:20 [m. 48]--A climactic
moment. Downward cascading music based
on Theme 1 leads to new, more emphatically melodic descending
chords. These are heard twice, the second time
higher and more unstable as the music once again becomes sustained
2:35 [m. 54]--The music
down even more. The syncopations
and accentuations are still derived from Theme 1. The key is
clearly C major now, but a full cadence there has not yet
arrived. Brahms slows the music still more, and both hands
reduced to alternating two-note groups (supported by chords in the
right hand) between them. These two-note alternating groups
2:57 [m. 61]--Coda.
rising thirds from Theme 2 are heard in C
major, played quite slowly. Suddenly, they emerge into a
rising, accelerating barrage of Theme 1 material in the 3x2
grouping. This final flourish is the first time that the
reaches a clear arrival on the chord of the home key. The
hand plays powerful rising octaves under the jubilant ascent of
right. Two loud chords, a short high one and a longer lower
bring the piece to an end.
3:36 (including run-off
PIECE [67 mm.]
END OF SET