b Riding East: Brahms Op 116 No 4

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Brahms Op 116 No 4

My Schumann episode continues, this time with Brahms Opus 116 No. 4.  Such a sweet piece.

One analysis of the piece (that I freely borrow from Professor Barth at Stanford) proposes a dialog between tenor and soprano.  We see the clues in the opening of the piece.  The tenor has a piano dynamic and wedge on the ascending chromatic motion through B-sharp to C-sharp, whereas the dolce response of the soprano has descending fifths and sixths, eventually with descending motion to G-sharp.  Of course C-sharp is a third below the home key of E, while G-sharp is a third above.

We see the recurring passage built on this opening tenor gesture at mm 32-36 where we arrive at G-sharp, and then again at mm 49-52 where this second time we arrive at C-sharp.  

I won't elaborate on the arpeggiated una corda section starting at m 36 with the melody in octaves plus a sixth, including the pronounced ben legato, but leave that to the imagination of the reader.  Eventually, and once again through with ben legato gestures, the two separate voices finally converge (merge?) on E, coinciding with the arrival of E as the harmony at m 67.

Brahms Opus 116 No. 4


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