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