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The Capital Ensemble and Friends

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Alice HakopianMr. Gregory Newton
Music 120-#3111
5/31/2015
The Capitol Ensemble, Leo. S. Bing theatre.
On Sunday, May 31, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. the Capitol Ensemble performed a piece by Johannes Brahms. The performance of Serenade No. 1 was pretty impressive and happens to be one of my favorites. Philip Levy worked wonders as the violinist and Andrew Duckles did the same on the viola.
Serenade No. 1 in D, Op 11 has six different movements and are “Allegro molto (D major)”, “Scherzo. Allegro non troppo (D minor) – Trio. Poco più moto (B-flat major)”, “Adagio non troppo (B-flat major)”, “Menuetto I (G major) – Menuetto II (G minor)”, “Scherzo. Allegro (D major) – Trio”, “Rondo. Allegro (D major)”.The first movement of the Serenade is pretty joyful and seems to celebrate music in a manner that is light and full of life. In fact the first two orchestras were supposed to be a nonet to strings and wind, much like the Octet by Schubert or Septet by Beethoven. This is one of the reasons behind the symphonic nature of these two movements (Geiringer 249-250).The second movement, much like the first one was full of energy and provided the build-up for the later parts, which are somewhat heavier. This allows the piece to move from fast to slow movements rather seamlessly and adds to its beauty.The third movement depends rather on the first two and the swings of the movement and its gently rocking rhythm are higher than that of the first two. This creates an environment that allows the listener to be swept away from the source and opens up a wider range of possibilities in which the rhythm can be directed.

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The fourth and the fifth movements are considerably heavier and can be defined by the term ‘Brahmsian ballast’. This sets in for a change of the way in which the previous movements interacted with the audience and sets a more melancholy mood in the piece. This means that from the first movement to the fifth one, there is a complete change in the mood of the entire piece. These dynamic shifts in the mood of a piece are something that actually needs a good deal of effort and to manage them so seamlessly is truly a mark of a genius.
The final movement is where Brahms puts his trademark of melting four beats into three beats in the bar. The influence of Beethoven on the works of Brahms is perhaps most important here. Even the shapes of the themes are something that later day works of Brahms will always reflect. Thus, the concluding part of the piece is in a way a microcosm of the two main themes of almost all the works of Brahms in the future.
The piece, one of the earliest works of Brahms gives us a glimpse into the way the composer developed through the ages and the way in which different influences modified his work. Some of the typical Brahmsian trademarks were present in the composition, while some initial attempts to emulate Beethoven and the impact of his influences are thoroughly perceivable (Avins 193). By the time the performance ended, I was glad that I went and enjoyed the evening thoroughly in the company of the best musical performance that I had seen in a long time. I was thoroughly entertained and discovered how the extraordinary talent was in the possessions of the two artists.
Works Cited
Avins, Styra. Johannes Brahms: Life and Letters. Oxford: Oxford UP. 1997. Print.
Geiringer, Karl, and Irene Geiringer. Brahms, His Life and Work. 3rd ed. New York: Da Capo. 1982. Print.

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