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The three Sonatas for violin and piano by Edvard Grieg were written between and Grieg composed this sonata in the summer of while on holiday with Benjamin Feddersen in Rungsted, Denmark , near Copenhagen. The piece was composed shortly after his only piano sonata was completed that same summer. Concerning the piece, Norwegian composer Gerhard Schjelderup commented: This sonata was dedicated to Norwegian composer and violinist Johan Svendsen.
On the second sonata, Schjelderup remarked: When Grieg presented the sonata to his teacher Niels Gade , he proclaimed the work "too Norwegian" and professed that his next sonata should be less Norwegian.
Grieg, reportedly, in defiance claimed that his next sonata would be even more Norwegian. Grieg began composing his third and final violin sonata in the autumn of Whereas the first two sonatas were written in a matter of weeks, this sonata took him several months to complete. The sonata remains the most popular of the three works, and has established itself in the standard repertoire.
The work was also a personal favorite of Grieg's. The sonata premiered with Grieg himself at the piano with well-known violinist Adolph Brodsky in Leipzig. To a certain extent, Grieg built on Norwegian folk melodies and rhythms in this three-movement sonata. However, Grieg considered the second sonata as the "Norwegian" sonata, while the third sonata was "the one with the broader horizon. This was the last piece Grieg composed using sonata form. The first movement is characterized by its bold and heroic introduction.
The agitated opening theme is contrasted with a lyrical second theme. The second movement opens with a serene piano solo in E major with a lyrical melodic line.
In the middle section, Grieg uses a playful dance tune. The finale is written in sonata form with coda but lacks a development section. In the second statement, the violin does not move an octave higher, and the piano does not double it until halfway through. The left hand arpeggios become wider. The piano gradually resumes the original accompaniment so that the hemiola at the end of the second statement is as it was in the exposition.
Because the setting in G major is at a higher pitch, the climax seams to soar even more brilliantly. Piano and violin alternations of the new oscillating theme heard as at 2: The entire passage is analogous to 2: The piano right hand takes over, as expected. Here, there are some register shifts from the exposition. Also, in the final violin ascents, the instrument drops down to begin at a lower level so that its final arrival analogously on C major is actually and unexpectedly lower than in the exposition.
The opening fragment of Theme 1 is given over short piano chords. There then follow ascents similar to those at the end of the exposition and recapitulation. The theme fragment and ascents are given again, with new harmonies that briefly move to A minor and back. The ascents soar quite high. Four long violin notes leap down, up, and back down as the piano moves to arpeggios in groups of three reminiscent of 0: These ascend under the first three long notes, then turn and descend with a strongly ascending bass as the violin becomes more active and descends to the highly fulfilling arrival point.
Two strong motions to a cadence are followed by a long ascent to the top note. The piano left hand first plays longer, solid bass notes, then joins in the piano arpeggios in its original contrary motion. Then the violin breaks into a descending arpeggio in triplet rhythm. The piano takes up the triplets and reverses direction as the violin moves to straight rhythm.
The two instruments play the final cadence together with three powerful chords, the first two detached and the last one held. A Section --Adagio 0: It is a melody set off by its initial gentle descending gesture. The left hand, after an opening long low octave, plays wide-ranging arpeggios. The syncopations in the third bar help to stretch the first phrase out to five bars instead of four. It ends with the opening gesture in that key, and is a regular four bars, creating a larger period of nine bars. The piano figuration moves to a higher register and low octaves emerge in the bass.
The music shifts back to E-flat, but it is the minor version of that key, and full cadences are avoided. The violin figures emerge into a confident melody moving to a half-cadence. The violin melody gains in confidence and is spun out more, reaching high and descending on more forceful syncopated notes. The low bass piano octaves emerge in full as the upper figuration remains in the middle range.
The music remains in E-flat minor. It then works out this gesture as both it and the piano gradually build. The top of the piano line emerges as a countermelody for the first time. Brahms builds tension by delaying the full cadence on E-flat, which does eventually arrive. The new tempo marking indicates a somewhat faster speed, but the marking mezza voce implies that it should still be subdued.
The rhythm is the long-short dotted rhythm this time with rests before the short chords associated with the Regenlied. The chords make a progression in E-flat minor and then repeat it with minimal variation in the upper harmonies, but none in the lower bass octaves. The repetition begins to rapidly build.
The second one brings the octaves between the hands closer together, but the notes G-flat and C-flat are the same. A third leap, with the bass again lower, changes C-flat to its equivalent note B, and Brahms changes the key signature from three flats to two sharps. The violin enters after its long rest, playing a passionate fragment above the piano, whose leaps have emerged into full chords in B major. The violin plays the melody, but the piano accompaniment also shadows some of its outlines in the right hand, playing leaping figures in the dotted rhythm with the left.
The volume rapidly increases and the piano speeds up, playing broken octaves in triplets and then plunging downward in a rapid arpeggio. It now sounds martial and defiant. The piano accompanies the violin with chords, while its left hand loosely imitates the rising dotted-rhythm. The scoring and octave placement is similar.
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It seems at first that there will be an analogous motion to G major from B minor, but the expected G major on the third leap is thwarted harmonically and diverted instead toward D minor. The violin, in a low register, also combines these elements in alternation with the piano bass. At the intensification, the violin speeds up even more rapidly than the piano had done and emerges into the plunging arpeggio formerly taken by the piano. The piano seems to begin the martial version of the dotted rhythm again in D minor, and the violin begins to imitate the piano bass in a reversal of 2: This time, however, the imitation remains strict and the dotted rhythm begins to move upward in sequences.
At its peak, the imitation breaks and the violin begins to play leaping octaves. The piano has thick chords over plunging bass octaves. The music moves to a huge arrival on an A-major chord. The A-major chord is followed by similar arpeggios on a B-flat major harmony. Against these, in double-stops, the violin begins to hesitantly hint at the main theme of the A section.
The fragments of the main theme continue in the violin double stops, but they are then shortened. There is a slowing and a diminishing of volume over the last dissonant arpeggio. The violin simply holds its last double stop without moving, and there is an extremely intense pause. The violin now plays the main theme in warmly harmonious double stops while the piano provides a new undulating accompaniment in triplet rhythm.
The piano bass still plays the wide arpeggios, clashing with the triplets in a two-against-three conflict. As before, it moves to B-flat.
The violin continues its double stops, the piano its decorative accompaniment and clashing two-against-three rhythm. The phrase ends with a descending B-flat piano arpeggio in the triplet rhythm. The difference is in the piano accompaniment, which is still playing the florid triplet motion. The same low octaves emerge in the bass. As before, the music moves to E-flat minor and to a half-cadence.
The violin melody gains confidence and builds, as at 1: New syncopation is introduced in the flowing piano triplet rhythm. The bass octaves are as before. The piano is still playing the triplets in the right hand, at first with irregular groupings that cross bar lines, continuing the syncopated effect from the previous passage. The countermelody is embedded in the flowing triplets. There is a building, with a delay of the cadence in E-flat, as in the first A section. The low bass octaves remain in pure E-flat major, but the supporting chords introduce the chromatic note D-flat, which creates the necessary tension.
The entire passage is very soft, even softer than the beginning of the B section. It continues constantly in the dotted rhythm, with notes held across bar lines. Above this, the right hand plays middle-range chords that do change, but quite slowly. The right-hand chords introduce more notes in addition to the D-flat that give the music an inflection toward the minor key.
Above all of this, the violin surreptitiously enters after its long rest and plays the expressive, winding melody from 2: The violin departs from the melody after two sequential phrases, breaking into arching arpeggios over the piano pedal point and chords.
The violin, in double stops, begins a statement of the main theme from the A section in that key. The piano bass moves down and up by half-steps. The right hand begins to respond to the violin, and there is a sudden buildup. The main theme in G-flat breaks and reaches higher. As the buildup reaches its climax, E-flat major brilliantly emerges again on the opening figure of the theme. The violin moves down an octave, and both hands of the piano move up an octave. The arpeggios continue a bit farther than before and reach a quiet, warm cadence. Two sighing reiterations of this cadence, the second with the piano rising, end the movement in a very peaceful manner.
The first two bars are directly derived from the minor-key Regenlied melody. The violin plays the melody itself, beginning with the distinctive dotted-rhythm upbeat. The piano plays an accompaniment derived from the song, the skittish upward motion and the winding downward motion. The piano bass has isolated dotted-rhythm upbeats, and the left hand once leaps above the steady accompaniment to play them higher.
After the second bar, the melody deviates from the song, but retains the same quiet, agitated character. It is extended to five bars by an insertion of a bar with triplets in the violin. The left hand abandons the dotted upbeats for low octaves. The phrase moves through A minor to D minor for a cadence. The piano skips upward in a bridge, moving back to G minor. The left hand is absent here. The last two violin statements of the figures are delayed, and the final one is lengthened, leading into a restatement of the opening. Under this final lengthened violin figure, the piano bass enters with the dotted rhythm.
The first phrase begins as before, but it is altered in its second half, where it reaches lower at the end. This places the second phrase at a lower level, and through artful manipulation, it reaches lower still, allowing it to remain in G minor for its cadence. It begins higher than before and is interrupted by a smooth violin descent with the piano moving to a downward winding line. The rising figures return, and are again broken by the smooth line. The downward winding piano line moves to the left hand as the key moves to D minor.
The theme begins with a sort of anticipation emerging from the previous passage. The longer dotted rhythms and languid line in the violin will become characteristic of the theme. The right hand enters against the continuing left hand figuration. There is a small swelling and receding D minor.
The piano has short interjections with low bass notes as an accompaniment, but it does have one trailing imitation of a turning violin figure in the melody. The piano plays the tune in octaves with isolated broken octaves in the left hand. The violin also takes the previous piano imitation of the turning figure, still in double stops. The end of the statement is altered to prepare for the next part of the melody, into which the violin leads with a trill.
It sweeps down in an arpeggio, then back up. This happens three times, with a descending two-note response.go to site
Violin Sonatas (Grieg)
The two-note responses then come to the foreground, heavily accenting their upbeats, creating syncopation, and moving both up and down. The piano accompaniment and imitation of the turning phrase are largely the same as before, following the violin in the alterations and cadence. The piano leads in with an trill, but unlike the violin statement, the piano statement increases in volume as well as agitation. The violin accompaniment is mostly in double stops unless it is joining in the two-note responses.
Unlike the violin statement, this piano statement incorporates triplet rhythms into the sweeping arpeggios, and the piano bass also includes rapid triplet arpeggios. The agitated piano passage settles down, and the violin takes over, making this phrase a virtually exact repetition of the previous one leading to the D-minor cadence. After the cadence, a piano arpeggio leads directly into the dotted-rhythm upbeat heralding a return of the Regenlied rondo theme. It steadily quiets down and moves back to the home key of G minor.
At the end, the anticipation for the actual rondo theme has reached a point of great tension and expectation. The first two phrases are given in the same form as at the beginning, without variation. The piano accompaniment following the G-minor cadence turns around and winds downward, extending the phrase by a bar to lead to the second contrasting theme. The transition from 0: Entering over the trailing piano descent and moving smoothly, but directly to E-flat major, the contrasting theme turns out to be the primary melody from the second movement , complete with violin double stops!
It is now given more extension and spun out in a dreamy manner before the previous continuation with dotted rhythm and the scale descent are again heard. Finally, the tune is given yet again in B-flat major, an octave higher than before.
Violin Sonata No. 1 (Brahms) - Wikipedia
It begins in G-flat major, which is related to D-flat major and B-flat minor. It also makes a minor-key turn, but much sooner, and it stays on the same home keynote notated as F-sharp, not G-flat minor. The right hand fragments of the melody are harmonized, and the left hand now has the undulations.