concerned; the Poco allegretto of the Beethoven Seventh Symphony, But Raff is not slavishly imitative and therein lies the quirk of genius, if not the intention.
The Poco allegretto of Beethoven's Seventh symphony features an ostinato figure which permeates the entire movement. Over it music of the greatest emotional important is lain and the inevitability and intensity of the movement is the marvels of Beethovenian invention. The idea of such construction was not new in the history of music prior to Beethoven though the expression certainly was. In Beethoven's ostinato is to be found a culminating point for a host of forms which had evolved over the centuries and passed out of mode: the so-called gebundene Formen of Passacaglia, Chaconne, Sarabande and a host of stylized dance forms which provided recognizable rhythmic schemes as starting points for melodic overlay. At the heart of the most noble of them, the Passacaglia and Chaconne, is
the idea of a variations movement. It is generally accredited to Brahms that, at least in realm of the symphony, the Passacaglia was revived, in the monumental finale of Symphony No.4 in E minor. Felix Draeseke, without any knowledge of what
the his his
contemporary his unjustly compositions
Brahms was doing, had at almost the same time set the second movement of neglected Symphonia Tragica in the form of a chaconne. These two were written within the two year period between 1884-86. In the third
movement of his Fourth Symphony Raff predates both baroque forms and must be accounted as the true link
of them in the resurrection of these between Beethoven and composers
like Brahms and Draeseke, for indeed a variations movement
third movement of Raff's Symphony No.4 in G minor is a ground bass derived from a dance movement of the
baroque (Sarabande). The advanced musical thinkers
choice of this of the time.
The movement opens with the variations theme: Ex.1 [not extant], given out by the string body. Sixteen measures in length it is repeated pizzicato, at letter A with the bassoon intoning this mournful phrase above the ostinato: Ex.2 [not extant]. At letter B the strings present a highly contrapuntal version of Ex.1 while the oboe is permitted a new idea: Ex.3 [not extant], and this leads to a general increase in sonority in the orchestra, in basses and woodwind. Ex.1 is heard in lyrical guise against broken chord accompaniment in the strings. The fourth variation brings a highly syncopated passage for full orchestra in which the second measure stress of the theme is weakened: Ex.4 [not extant]. An oboe counterpoint at the end of this variation hints at a new theme and at letter E the ear is confronted with: Ex.5 [not extant]. At this point the Sarabande theme seems lost completely but it isn't, as in the highly rhythmic variation just before E one hears a weakening of the second measure stress. It is now in the new variation the first measure stress which is lost, although the second measure stress is indeed weak. What ensues at the end of the exposition of the melody in Ex.5 is one of the most ingenious and subtle maneuvers in all Raff: the basses, which have been the last hangout for the pulsation of the second measure stress of the Sarabande theme now introduces the pulsation of the first measure of the theme. As if pre- ordained the second measure is now heard as the final phrase in the second violins which is taken up immediately by the first violin and from that point is heard in the bass once again. At letter P the melody of Ex.? is expanded throughout the orchestra over the pulsation of the first measure of Ex.1. Hidden in the harmony are the outlines of Ex.? and a short passage prior to letter G brings a coda to this variation and at letter G Raff embarks on a double canon introducing a semiquaver idea against Ex.1: Ex.? [not extant]. This is a section which aroused the admiration of Altmann who, nevertheless failed to recognize the uniqueness of the form in the movement. The general crescendo to which this leads introduces the triple pulsation of the first measure of Ex.1 (augmentation) against a syncopation which, by its very nature, contains the stress of the second measure of Ex.1: Ex.? [not extant]. Just before a general peroration proclaiming Ex.1 in brass and woodwind, Raff even brings his Sarabande theme to it ultimate diminished form: [not extant].
After this climax there is a new melodic variation of Ex.1 against yet another diminished form of the basic rhythm Ex.? [not extant], and there leads to what seems to be a
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