Piano Quintet (Brahms)

Piano Quintet (Brahms)

The "Piano Quintet" in F minor, opus 34, by Johannes Brahms was completed during the summer of 1869. It was dedicated to Her Royal Highness the Princess Anne of Hesse. Like most piano quintets, it is written for piano and string quartet (two violins, viola and cello).

The piece is in four movements:

#"Allegro non troppo"
#"Andante, un poco adagio"
#"Scherzo: Allegro"
#"Finale: Poco sostenuto - Allegro non troppo - Presto, non troppo"

The work began life as a string quintet (completed in 1862 and scored for two violins, viola and two cellos). Brahms transcribed the quintet into a sonata for two pianos (in which form Brahms and Carl Tausig performed it) before taking its final form. Brahms destroyed the original version for string quintet, but published the Sonata as opus 34 bis. The outer movements are more adventurous than usual in terms of harmony and are unsettling in effect. The introduction to the finale, with its rising figure in semitones, is especially remarkable. Both piano and strings play an equally important role throughout this work.

First Movement

econd Movement

Third Movement

This movement is in ternary form (ABA)with A being a scherzo and B being a trio.

SCHERZOthe scherzo has 3 main themes:-Theme A (bars 1-12) is a "pp" rising melody in C minor and in compound (6/8) time, it is mainly characterised by its syncopated rhythms. at bar 9 the theme is played in octaves by violin and viola, and imitated by piano.

-Theme B (bars 13-21)a quick, jerky theme in C minor in simple time which revolves around the dominant key (G)

-Theme C (bars 22-37)a Loud march-like theme, this time in C major, a particularly striking motif within this theme is the imitation of the string melody in the piano left hand.

The scherzo also contains a fugue starting at bar 67 and revolving around the first 4 bars of theme B as a subject. this is then answered by the piano in bar 71, before more entries of the subject by the violin (bar 76) and viola (bar 84), which are combined with countersubjects in the left hand piano part (bar 67, and another at bar 71)After this the melodies and motifs are trunkated into tiny melodic cells in a complex 5 part texture. The original motif is stated in a shorter version at bar 91 and is shortened again at bar 96 and these fragments are then heard in close imitation in a texture known as stretto.

STRUCTURE OF SCHERZO:A - B - C - A - B - Fugue - B - C - A - B

the final B section is extended into a coda and ends on a C major chord (a tierce de picardie)

TRIOThe trio section begins at bar 193 and is in Ternary (ABA) Form.

Section A is a 16 bar melody in C major modulating to B major in the last 5 bars. it contrasts with the contrapuntal nature of the scherzo.

Section B Begins at bar 225 and consists of a legato melody over a staccato bass. chromatic harmony is used but tonality is retained by the use of a dominant (G) pedal note.

After this, section A is repeated, this is a repeat of the first 11 bars of melody (before the modulation to B) in a 'dark' texture where all the instruments play in a low tessitura (lower notes) this leads to a plagal (IV - I) cadence in C major and a tonic pedal in bars 254 to 261.

This is followed by a repeat of the Scherzo up to bar 193.

Fourth Movement

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