johannes brahms - titanic ?· johannes brahms, mastersinger and chamber musician unlike most...
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THE VIOLIN SONATAS
ANASTASIA KHITRUK VIOLIN DAVID KOREVAAR PIANO
Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Major, Op. 78 1. I: Vivace ma non troppo 11:03 2. II: Adagio 7:27 3. III: Allegro molto moderato 8:16
(27:03)Violin Sonata No. 2 in A Major, Op. 100 4. I: Allegro amabile 8:06 5. II: Andante tranquillo Vivace 6:03 6. III: Allegretto grazioso (quasi Andante) 5:13
(19:38)Violin Sonata No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 108 7. I: Allegro 8:18 8. II: Adagio 4:41 9. III: Un poco presto e con sentimento 2:5410. IV: Presto agitato 5:20
(21:32)Total Time: 68:39
Johannes Brahms, Mastersinger and Chamber Musician
Unlike most violin sonatas in the modern concert repertoire, Johannes Brahmss transcend the realm of absolute or non-program music. Indeed, his sonatas allude to Romantic poetry and Wagnerian opera, thus embodying the tension between word andtone basic to German Romantic music. For Brahms and Wagner alike, the word-tone dialectic was key. Their respective positions onthis issue, considered antagonistic during the nineteenth century, are deemed complementary by many music historians today. Beforeexploring how this idea relates to the sonatas themselves, however, some additional words of introduction.
Except for Richard Strausss 1888 work, Brahmss violin sonatas are the sole exemplars of the genre composed in German-speaking Europe from 1875 to 1900. One must venture outside the region to find comparable works (Faur, Franck, Grieg) routinelyperformed today. Why? German composers between 1850 and 1900 strove less to cultivate the Classical sonata priniciple than totransform it into Wagners music of the future, namely opera or program music. There arose at this time a feud waged by the Wagner-Liszt partisans (New German School) against those of the Schumann-Mendelssohn persuasion, the latter of whom divined in Brahmsa powerful nemesis to Wagner. Brahms, while inimical towards Liszts music, was clearly no Wagner nemesis. His unwillingness to playthis role helps one better understand, among other works, the Second Violin Sonata.
A ruthless self-critic who burnt two-thirds of his music, Brahms essayed several violin sonatas before publishing his First ViolinSonata. The Brahms works catalog lists three such lost compositions, excluding the Scherzo of the F-A-E Sonata co-written withRobert Schumann and Albert Dietrich. Despite their modest dimensions, the three extant sonatas make a good introduction to Brahmssmusic as a whole. Not only do they integrate his vocal and instrumental works, they illuminate his art of transition, the linking of onetheme to the next. His transitions are so finely wrought that they can be (and have been) mistaken for actual themes. Such technique,above all, undergirds the musics delicate balance of passion and precision, which John Daverio (citing Robert Musil) calls the essenceof German Romanticism.
With respect to the word-tone dialectic mentioned above, Brahms, in his first two violin sonatas at least, transplanted poetry andmusic drama to the wordless domain of absolute music. In so doing, he realized (paradoxically) the Hegelian ideal of musicalRomanticism, namely that music had the maximum possiblity of liberating itself from any real text as well as the expression of anydefinite content (Aesthetics). The premier Lieder composer of the post-Schumann generation, Brahms viewed himself quintessentially assong writer, even when composing for instruments. From this standpoint, he is more Schuberts heir than Beethovens or Schumanns.Brahmss (in)famous remarks that any jackass could relate the finale of his First Symphony to that of Beethovens Ninth and thatSchumann taught him only to play chess are revealing.
On at least one occasion, however, he averred, Even the tiniest Schubert song has something valuable to teach us. Taking hiscue from Lied-flavored instrumental works such as the Trout Quintet (D. 667) and Wanderer Fantasia (D. 760), Brahms transmutedsong into a repertoire of absolute works, including the First Piano Sonata and the First Violin Sonata. This achievement is fruitfullycontrasted with that of another Schubert aficionado, Franz Liszt. A gifted song writer himself, he rendered his own or others vocal musiceither as virtuoso piano transcriptions or as concert paraphrases but never fashioned them into sonatas or formal variation sets.
In Brahmss violin sonatas, his genius as a Lieder and chamber music composer is reincarnated in the dynamic repartee betweenthe performers. Listeners enjoy the sheer variety of instrumental role-playing in these works, how the themes are variously introducedand developed by violin and piano. In order to track the themes, the listener is advised to consult the following table.
Formal Outlines of the Three Brahms Violin SonatasSubject denotes here either a single theme or group of themes subordinated to that subject. The abbreviations S symbolize subject and T theme, so that S1/T2, for example, means Subject 1, Theme 2,(that is, the second component of Subject 1). The themes are further tagged by measure numbers as found in the score. (Various musical examples are found throughout the text.).
TABLE 1A Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Major, Op. 78
I. Vivace ma non troppo (Sonata form): FIRST SUBJECT (1-21) TRANSITION (21-35) SECOND SUBJECT (36-60) THIRD SUBJECT (60-81) DEVELOPMENT (82-147) RETRANSITION (148-155) RECAPITULATION (156-222) CODA (223-243) Theme 1 (S1/T1, 1-10) Theme 1 (S3/T1, 60-69) Theme 2 (S1/T2, 11-19) Theme 2 (S3/T2, 70-81)
II. Adagio (ABA form): A (1-24) BRIDGE (Pi andante, 24-39) B (30-56) BRIDGE (57-67) A (67-91) CODA (91-122)
III. Allegro molto moderato (Rondo form): A (Refrain, 1-28) B (29-52) BRIDGE (based on A, 53-60) A (61-83) C (84-112) BRIDGE (based on A, 113-123) A (124-139) CODA (links A and C, 140-163) Theme 1 (S1/T1, 1-9) Theme 1 (29-36) Adagio Theme 2 (S1/T2, 10-13) Theme 2 (37-40)
TABLE 1B Violin Sonata No. 2 in A Major, Op. 100
I. Allegro amabile (Sonata form): FIRST SUBJECT (1-30) TRANSITION (39-50) SECOND SUBJECT (50-78) THIRD SUBJECT (79-87) DEVELOPMENT (89-149) RETRANSITION (150-157) RECAPITULATION (158-218) CODA (219-280)
II. [A] Andante tranquillo (1-15) [B] Vivace (16-71) [A] Andante tranquillo (72-93) [B] Vivace di pi (94-149) [A] Andante (150-61) [B] Vivace (162-68)
III. Allegretto grazioso (quasi Andante) (Sonata rondo form):Rondo form: A (Refrain, 1-31) B (31-62) A (63-89) C (89-111) A (112-122) B (123-136) CODA (137-158)Sonata form: FIRST SUBJECT/FIRST THEME (1-12) [then varied 21-31] SECOND SUBJECT (31-62) S1 (63-89) DEVELOPMENT (?) (89-111) RECAP, S1 (112-122) S2 (123-136) CODA (links A and C, 137-158)
TABLE 1C Violin Sonata No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 108
I. Allegro (Sonata form): FIRST SUBJECT (1-23) TRANSITION (23-46) SECOND SUBJECT (48-73) THIRD SUBJECT (74-83) DEVELOPMENT (84-119) RETRANSITION (120-28) RECAPITULATION (130-208) CODA (219-64)
II. Adagio (free strophic form): A (1-36) A' (37-73)Theme 1 (1-19)Theme 2 (19-36)
III. Un poco presto e con sentimento (modified scherzo): A (1-110) B (Bridge, 111-19) A (119-34) CODA (155-81)Theme 1 (1-53) Theme 1Theme 2 (53-110)
IV. Presto agitato (Sonata rondo form):Rondo form: A (Refrain, 1-16) B (39-72) C (73-113) A (114-129) D (130-193) B (213-251) C (252-292) A (293-310)Sonata form: FIRST SUBJECT (1-16) TRANSITION (17-38) SECOND SUBJECT (39-72) THIRD SUBJECT (73-113) S1 (114-129) DEVELOPMENT (130-193) RETRANSITION (194-217) RECAP: S2, S3, S1 (218-310) CODA (links A and D, 311-337)
First Violin Sonata, Op. 78
Translation of Brahmss Regenlied (Rain Song), Op. 59, No. 3
Plash down, rain, plash down,Awaken in me those dreams,That I dreamt in childhood,
When the wetness foamed in the sand!
When the weary summer sultrinessfought lazily against the fresh coolness,
And the pale leaves dripped dew,and the fruitful fields took on a deeper blue.
What joy to stand in the downpourat such times with bare feet,
To dance in the grass,And to grab with ones hands the foam.
Or else to catch on ones burning cheeks the cool drops,To open ones childhood heartto the newly awakened scents!
Like the flowers chalices,That were dripping there,
So stood the soul wide open and breathing,Like the flowers drunk with fragrances,
Engulfed in the heavenly dew.
Quaking with pleasure, each dropCooled you down to your very heartbeat,
And the holy web of CreationPenetrated your innermost being.
Plash down, rain plash down,Awaken my old songs
That we sang in the doorwayWhen the drops tapped outside!
I would gladly hear them again,to their sweet moist rustling,My soul, tenderly bedewed
With that holy, childlike awe.
poem by Klaus Groth
The above poem inspired a song of the same title written by Brahms in 1873 (Ex. 1) and conveys what the German Romanticscalled Heimweh, a feeling straddling homesickness and nostalgia. That Brahms used Regenlied as the thematic basis of his First