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View Full Version : 5th's Scherzo-to-Finale transistion!


euphony131
02-21-2001, 02:55 AM
Recently I understood in BROAD DAYLIGHT the seamless transistion B. made from the 3rd mvt to the fourth in his 5th symphony. You go without interruption from groping in darkness to spectacular SUNSHINE. I mean it's genius the way he unites two mvts. into one organic whole (sorry if I sound like a pedant!). Is there even a precedent for it? I should think not...you have two different themes melded together, no boundaries. Ahh...no wonder that back in the days of the cassette tape I had such a hard time figuring out when one ended and the other began. In actuality the 3rd mvt. never really ends and the 4th never really begins...it simply is.

I'm including a piece by Hector Berlioz as he describes the reaction of the audience to this transformation:

"...it was in the finale that the Conservatoire Hall would have offered a curious spectacle to a disinterested observer. At the moment when the orchestra, leaving behind it the scherzo's grim harmonies for the dazzling march whaich follows, seems to be taking us suddenly from a cavern on the Blocksberg to a Temple of the Sun, the shouts of accalmation, the cries of "hush", the clapping and the convulsive laughter, restrained for a few seconds, exploded with such force that the orchestra was buried beneath the torrents of enthusiasm and disappeared completely. The entire audience was seized by a spasm of nervous excitement and not till it subsided were the players able to make themselves heard."

Whoa!!! Now's that's what I call a concert! http://www.gyrix.com/~cgraye/ubb/wink.gif Why can't we bring back THOSE days of frenetic excitement?

As you all know, I just don't understand why every CM concert nowadays has got to have the austerity of a funeral house. I mean we're not even allowed to applaud in-between movements! And here in America, it seems the tradition of shouting, "Encore" and actually getting one has been permanently silenced. Is there something wrong with having FUN at a concert????????

Chris
02-21-2001, 07:08 AM
Whenever I used to play at piano recitals, I would hate it when people would clap between movements of sometihng I was playing. You don't do that, because there's no reason to - the piece is not over. It breaks things up too much. They could clap every single time I played a difficult passage well, but it is better to save it all for the end, I think.

As for encores, I sometimes see that happen, but I'm not sure how much it really does. It's nice when it happens, though.

Peter
02-21-2001, 02:50 PM
Originally posted by euphony131:
Recently I understood in BROAD DAYLIGHT the seamless transistion B. made from the 3rd mvt to the fourth in his 5th symphony. You go without interruption from groping in darkness to spectacular SUNSHINE.

Great way of putting it ! It really is a wonderful passage. I quote from Anthony Hopkins "it was this passage that caused a child seated beside Schumann at a concert to whisper 'I'm frightened', much to that composer's delight. The child understood the music intuitively, which could not be said for the contemporary Russian critic Oulibichef who likened it to the mewing of cats !"

When it comes to applause, I think you are right - Beethoven would have been surprised and offended if the audience sat throughout a Symphony or Concerto in stony silence .

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'Man know thyself'

Michael
02-21-2001, 07:39 PM
Originally posted by Peter:
Great way of putting it ! It really is a wonderful passage. I quote from Anthony Hopkins "it was this passage that caused a child seated beside Schumann at a concert to whisper 'I'm frightened', much to that composer's delight. "



Peter, you had better spell the composer Antony Hopkins' name without the 'h' in his christian name or you are going to cause endless confusion. Years ago, I bought a record called "Antony Hopkins Talks about Symphonies" thinking it was the Welsh actor. The composer himself once received a letter praising his radio series. It ended with: "By the way, you were great in 'The Silence of the Lambs!'"
Regarding the transition from the third to fourth movement in the C minor symphony, Beethoven does something very similar in the string quartet, Opus 74 (The Harp). The scherzo of this piece uses a similar "fate-motif" to that of the Fifth Symphony, and in the second reprise the dynamics are scaled down and the scherzo is linked to the finale by a mysterious passage, again as in the Fifth, only this time the finale consists of a sedate theme which is used as the basis of a set of variations.

Michael

PDG
02-22-2001, 12:39 AM
Originally posted by Peter:
Great way of putting it ! It really is a wonderful passage. I quote from Anthony Hopkins "it was this passage that caused a child seated beside Schumann at a concert to whisper 'I'm frightened', much to that composer's delight. The child understood the music intuitively, which could not be said for the contemporary Russian critic Oulibichef who likened it to the mewing of cats !"
When it comes to applause, I think you are right - Beethoven would have been surprised and offended if the audience sat throughout a Symphony or Concerto in stony silence .


And wasn`t it Thomas Beecham who likened the timpani in the passage to baby elephants dancing, or something similar?

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Peter (PDG)

Michael
02-22-2001, 01:22 AM
Originally posted by PDG:
And wasn`t it Thomas Beecham who likened the timpani in the passage to baby elephants dancing, or something similar?



It sounds like something Beecham would come up with alright, but the quotation comes from E.M Forster's "Howards End" and it refers to the double basses in the trio of the third movement.
As this topic deals with the scherzo and finale of the Fifth Symphony, I hope I'm not taking up too much room if I quote Forster's extraordinary description. He is describing the reactions of the character Helen Schlegel to a performance of the symphony, and he is here describing the opening of the scherzo:

"... the music started with a goblin walking quietly over the universe from end to end. Others followed him. They were not aggressive creatures; it was that that made them so terrible to Helen. They merely observed in passing that there was no such thing as splendour or heroism in the world. After the interlude of elephants dancing, they returned and made the observation for the second time. Helen could not contradict them for, once at all events, she had felt the same, and had seen the reliable walls of youth collapse. Panic and emptiness! Panic and emptiness! The goblins were right.
Her brother raised his finger: it was the transitional passage on the drum.
For, as if things were going too far, Beethoven took hold of the goblins and made them do what he wanted. He appeared in person. He gave them a little push, and they began to walk in a major key instead of in a minor and then - he blew with his mouth and they were scattered. Gusts of splendour, gods and demi-gods contending with vast swords, colour and fragrance broadcast on the field of battle.......
And the goblins - they had not really been there at all? They were only the phantoms of cowardice and unbelief? One healthy human impulse would dispel them?....
Beethoven knew better. The goblins really had been there. They might return - and they did. It was as if the splendour of life might boil over and waste to steam and froth. In its dissolution one heard the terrible, ominous note, and a goblin, with increased malignity, walked quietly over the universe from end to end. Panic and emptiness! Panic and emptiness! Even the flaming ramparts of the world might fall.
Beethoven chose to make all right in the end. He built the ramparts up. He blew with his mouth for the second time, and again the goblins were scattered. He brought back the gusts of splendour, and the heroism, the youth, the magnificence of life and death, and, amid the vast roaring of a super-human joy, he led his Fifty Symphony to its conclusion. But the goblins were there. They could return. He had said so bravely, and that is why one can trust Beethoven when he says other things."

Forgive the length but I think it's not a bad attempt at describing the indescribable. It is fascinating to see the writer transform the musician's notes into allegorical symbols. I know there are people who find this famous passage annoying, but it's a shade better than: "In the transition to the finale, the device of suspending the sense of harmonic and thematic movement as a portent of coming resolution, which Beethoven uses mutatis mutandis in the first movements, is now applied in a new and even more dramatic context ......."
I know which description I would rather read!Alduos Huxley's depiction of Opus 132 and Thomas Mann's of Opus 111 are equally celebrated instances of prose almost coming to grips with the musical experience, though I haven't read the last two.

Michael

euphony131
02-22-2001, 05:30 AM
That E.M. Foster quote was RAD. We may not all see exactly "goblins" and "elephants" but that Herculean struggle to reach the Light is something I'm sure we all feel. The INTENSITY of emotion is something B. never wavered from. "Face your Fears. You have to go through the Dark to Reach the Light." Another awesome example (re-juxtaposed) is the plaintive to shattering cry of the 2nd mvt. in the 7th symphony right before the Splendor.

They don't call him "The Master" for nuthin'. http://www.gyrix.com/~cgraye/ubb/smile.gif