Allegro, as the first movement is named, means to have a quick paced tempo. This movement starts with the first and second violins playing followed by the cello and viola, then finally the clarinet comes in over the rest of the musicians. This movement may be fast paced, but the tone of the movement is melancholy in some areas. The theme of the movement is played several times over. The theme of Allegro is the opening phrases where the first and second violins start, then add in the cello and viola, then the clarinet.
This repeating phrase throughout the first movement helps create a pattern and a story. What is interesting in this movement is that the opening theme sets up the rest of the piece. Brahms changes the theme in each movement, but this original theme is still present in each movement after. The end of Allegro is built up into a large climax by using crescendo, a heavier and more violent bow stroke, and more rapid notes than are present in the rest of the piece. The Adagio, in contrast to the first movement, is slower paced and softer. The tone of this movement is in great contrast to the first as well. The mood is dark and full of anguish and despair, whereas in the first the mood was lighter.
This mood is created by the difference in the style in which the musicians are playing. The clarinet in this movement plays lower notes that are sustained for long periods of time while the violin plays the melody over it. The first two movements of the piece are much lengthier than the last two movements. The third movement, Andantino, is faster than andante- which is a walking pace- but slower than moderato. The tempo marking andantino is more lively than andante. The third movement serves as a transition into the last movement.
In this movement there is pizzicato, which is the plucking of the strings on a string instrument. The first and second violins, cello, and viola use this technique in this movement while the clarinet plays the melody over them. The first violin adds in by playing on the string again, and then the rest of the strings add in playing using their bows instead of plucking the strings.
The fourth movement, Con moto, is different from the previous movements because of the tone and style of this section, but it also revisits the original theme of the first movement, which ties all the movements together. The original theme is used as a framing device throughout the entire piece.
Between each time the theme is played, there are different styles of other themes played. Some are mellower while others are more of a scherzo, which is a lively part within a larger work. This piece was preformed wonderfully by the GVSU Chamber Players. They played passionately and because of this, the audience could better understand the piece and what Brahms intended the audience to feel when they listened to his work. The players made great use of dynamics throughout the piece and they were very skilled in the different styles Brahms wrote into the music. I really enjoyed the concert and look forward to going to another soon.