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again interrupted by A major, followed by two 7-bar phrases, the first having a chromatically

ascending bass, and the second over a dominant-pedal. The theme rises to the top voice in the

former and falls to the alto voice in a descending sequence in the latter passage, both being the

only irregular phrases in the piece. As mentioned earlier, the pitch A continues to appear in the

coda, interfering with an otherwise conventional V-I cadence and three bars of C major harmony.

Although the tension between A minor and A major exists, A minor is never actually confirmed,

because it does not appear in root position or with a clear V-I cadence, not to mention being

placed on the last quaver of the bar (bar 9). Brahms marks the arrival and the departure of this

key with the term sost. (bars 10-14), attempting to establish it through a local alteration of tempo,

rather than a conventional tonal process. The phrase is repeated twice, to reinforce this weak

cadence. Repetition emphasizes other crucial points in the piece, such as bars 21-24, which

stress the opposition between A major and A minor. Likewise, bars 56-57 are exact repetitions

which stress dominant harmony, and the last five bars are repetitions in three different registers to

stress the tonic, in spite of the intervening pitch A.

Another unconventional technique which Brahms employs is the continuous displacement

of the two rhythmic motives of the initial bar, alternating between the first and second beats of

successive bars, which, along with the accents placed on the last quavers, creates metric

ambiguity. Dissonances are also placed on these weakest parts of the bar (bars 11-12), as well as

at points of expected resolution (ex. bar 6). Rosen (1990: 114) suggests that Brahms follows

Schumann in this respect, but whereas Schumann leaves dissonances unresolved into subsequent

beats, Brahms does not deny a resolution, although it comes at an unexpected moment. Another

type of tension found in the piece is that between 6/8 and 3/4 metre. This starts to manifest itself

in the second bar, where the series of 6 quavers can be interpreted either way if not for the

surrounding clear 6/8 articulation. The return of the theme in the original key at bar 41 is in 3/4

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