Brahms - Symphony No. 1 in C Minor

May 31, 2019

Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra

Victor Yampolsky conducts the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra in Johannes Brahms’s Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68.

Un poco sostenuto; Allegro 
Andante sostenuto
Un poco allegretto e grazioso
Adagio; Più andante; Allegro non troppo, ma con brio

Unlike much music of the Romantic era, this symphony is what we call “absolute music.” It has no extramusical narrative, but casts its spell using purely musical materials—and Brahms’s gift for the development of motives and melodies is on masterful display. The first movement, Allegro, begins with a passionate outcry which rises chromatically against the insistent pulse of the timpani. With elegance and flexibility, Brahms interweaves more tender, introverted material with the intensity of the first theme. The Andante sostenuto begins without fanfare—as if an intimate conversation has been taking place all along and is simply picking up where it left off. Music of transparency, charm, and bittersweet nostalgia unfolds. The third movement, Un poco allegretto e grazioso, has an easygoing pastoral quality, with a folk melody given first to the woodwinds and eventually passed throughout the orchestra. The final movement follows immediately, with a suspenseful introduction and thrilling pizzicato passages that eventually give way to a wild and virtuosic ride. 



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