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Reflection Of John Brahms Cancert Essay

1193 words - 5 pages

Johannes Brahms himself directed the debut of his Variations on a Theme by Haydn with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in Bavaria in 1873, making our experience of attending a performance by the same ensemble in Carnegie Hall more than 140 years later all the more special. The program directed by Latvian Andris Nelsons also included, besides the aforesaid work, Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No.90 in C Minor, Johannes Brahm’s Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op.90 and Johann Strauss’s waltz Seid Umschlungen, Millionen (“Be Embraced, You Millions”) –which was actually dedicated to Brahms- as a surprise encore. Also known as Saint Anthony Variations, Brahms composed his Variations during a summer stay in Lake Starnberg near Münich during a time where he had finally, after the premiere of A German Requiem in 1868, achieved recognition throughout Europe. He based his work on a theme in Chorale Saint Antoni originally attributed to Haydn, although in the nineteenth century this was questioned and the piece remains unattributed to this day. Brahms composed two versions of this work –one for two pianos, the other for orchestra- both of which consist on a theme on B-flat major, eight variations and a finale in passacaglia form.
The night started with Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No.90 in C Major, a piece in sonata form composed for one flute, timpani, viola, cello, bass and two oboes, bassoons, horns, trumpets and violins. The first movement –the Adagio- introduces, the listener to the piece by a sharp contrast between forte and an eight descending notes in piano. We are then presented –in a piano violin- the essential element of the first theme. Then, the music picks up a faster pace and energy until it reaches a dialogue between the oboes and the bass. The theme is brought back repeatedly until, towards the end, a tutti syncopated block in forte marks the end of the first movement. The Andante is initiated at a different meter and key –duple and F major- than the previous movement, which was in triple and C major. It is structured in alternating variations with closely related topics in major and minor modes. I especially enjoyed how the woodwinds appear in the second part –almost as a solo part- to create a very sound sensuous mood, which beautifully contrast in texture with the angrier sections dominated by the string instruments. The third movement, the Minuet, returns the music to a triple meter. A four-bar theme delivered by the brass accompanied by the woodwinds opens this section, which acts as a moment for the symphony to ‘build up’ and regain energy before entering the shortest movement of the symphony, the Allegro finale. In duple meter, it is the most active of all the movements, with a more staccato articulation reminiscent of march-like music. It is worth highlighting that this piece contains one of Haydn’s famous musical ‘jokes’; after a lengthy pause, which generally leads the deceived audience to start clapping, the strings and oboe come in first...

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