Moldovan-Austrian violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Turkish pianist Fazıl Say perform Johannes Brahms’ Violin Sonata No. 3 in D minor, Op. 108. Composed between 1878 and 1888, it is the last violin sonata of the German composer.
Brahms’ Violin Sonata No. 3
Johannes Brahms’ Violin Sonata No. 3 is dedicated to Brahms’ friend and colleague Hans von Bülow (January 8, 1830 – February 12, 1894), the German conductor, virtuoso pianist, and composer of the Romantic era; and was premiered in Budapest in 1888 with Jenő Hubay (15 September 1858 – 12 March 1937), also known by his German name Eugen Huber), the Hungarian violinist, composer and music teacher on violin and the composer himself at the piano.
The Violin Sonata No. 3 is considered one of Brahms’ greatest chamber music works and is beloved by both performers and audiences alike. It requires great technical skill and musicality from both the violinist and the pianist, and its emotional depth and complexity make it a masterpiece of the Romantic era.
There are four movements, unlike the two previous violin sonatas of the composer, each in three movements.
- Un poco presto e con sentimento
- Presto agitato
The first movement of Brahms’ Violin Sonata No. 3 is marked “Allegro” and is written in sonata form. It begins with a haunting and melancholic theme played by the violin, which is then echoed by the piano. This theme is the primary melodic material of the movement and is heard throughout various guises.
After the initial statement of the theme, the violin and piano engage in a dialogue, with the piano elaborating on the theme and the violin responding with virtuosic flourishes. The movement then moves into the development section, where Brahms explores the themes and motifs introduced in the exposition in greater depth.
In the middle section of the movement, the tempo changes to a faster and more intense pace, with the violin and piano engaged in a fierce and passionate exchange. The tension gradually builds until it reaches a climax, after which the music returns to the opening theme. The movement then concludes with a coda that brings the piece to a satisfying close.
It begins with a long and lyrical melody played by the violin, which is then taken up by the piano. The melody is one of Brahms’ most beautiful and memorable and is characterized by its haunting and melancholic quality.
As the movement unfolds, the violin and piano take turns playing the melody and elaborating on it, creating a sense of musical dialogue. The music is highly expressive, with Brahms using subtle shifts in harmony and dynamics to create an atmosphere of deep emotion.
The second movement of the sonata is often seen as a highlight of the work and is a favorite of both performers and audiences. It is a beautiful example of Brahms’ ability to create music that is both highly emotional and deeply nuanced
3. Un poco presto e con sentimento
The third movement of Brahms’ Violin Sonata No. 3 is marked “Un poco presto e con sentimento” and is a scherzo in character. It is a lively and playful movement that provides a contrast to the more introspective second movement.
The movement begins with a rhythmic motif played by the piano, which is then taken up by the violin. This motif serves as the basis for the movement and is repeated throughout various guises. The music is highly energetic, with Brahms using syncopation and off-beat accents to create a sense of rhythmic vitality.
Despite its playful character, the movement also contains moments of lyrical beauty, with the violin and piano engaging in a delicate musical dialogue. As the movement progresses, the music becomes more intense, with the violin and piano engaged in a thrilling exchange of virtuosic passages.
4. Presto agitator
The finale of Brahms’ Violin Sonata No. 3 in D minor, Op. 108 is marked “Presto agitato” and is a virtuosic finale to the sonata. It is a fast-and-furious movement that showcases the technical abilities of both the violinist and the pianist.
The movement begins with a frenzied passage played by the violin, which is then taken up by the piano. This passage sets the tone for the movement, which is characterized by its intensity and energy. Brahms uses frequent changes in tempo and dynamics to create a sense of excitement and urgency.
As the movement progresses, the music becomes more complex and difficult, with the violin and piano engaging in a thrilling interplay of virtuosic passages. The music reaches a climax in the middle of the movement, after which it gradually winds down and returns to the opening material. The movement then concludes with a brilliant coda that brings the sonata to a thrilling close.
- Violin Sonata No. 3 (Brahms) on Wikipedia
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