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Latin Text:

O bone Jesu, miserere nobis,


quia tu creasti nos,
tu redemisti nos sanguine tuo praetiosissimo.

English Translation

The canon is quite complex. There are two simultaneous canons. The second altos
follow the first sopranos (outer voices) and the second sopranos follow the first
altos (inner voices). The leading voices begin on strong beats, and the following
voices enter one beat later, on weak beats, moving in the opposite directions.
0:00 [m. 1]--“O bone Jesu, miserere nobis.” The leading voices begin together, the
following voices start one note later. Because the text is sung together, the
music
sounds like block chords, and the canon is difficult to hear. It is somewhat more
distinguishable when the motion is faster on the second statement of “O bone Jesu.”
The word “miserere” is sung twice, with an intensification on the first statement.
The harmonies and progressions here, dictated by the canons, are unorthodox and
modern, but have a somewhat “archaic” effect. The canon breaks down at the end of
the second statement of “miserere” as the voices settle down to a gentle (plagal)
cadence on the “dominant” chord (C major) on “nobis.”
0:26 [m. 7]--“quia tu creasti nos, tu redemisti nos.” The canon begins again with
the next phrase, which is isolated and completed. The following voices can clearly
be heard moving in the opposite direction of the leading voices on “creasti nos.”
The next phrase has even more motion, and the canon is even easier to hear. It
breaks right as the following voices approach the end of “redemisti nos,” The
first
sopranos and first altos begin the word “sanguine” as the following voices
(imperfectly)
complete the canon on D minor.
0:45 [m. 12]--“sanguine praetiosissimo.” The “following” voices, second soprano
and second alto, enter together, and the canon is abandoned. The first alto is the
initial voice to move to the second syllable of “sanguine.” Soon, the middle
voices
join together in harmony, with the first sopranos following in the opposite
direction.
Because the text is not sung together, it sounds canonic, even though it is not,
in contrast to the opposite effect at the opening. The bottom voice, the second
alto line, establishes the progression of harmonies (circle of fifths) that lead
back to the home key. It leaps up and down in three sequences. The music
intensifies
toward the cadence, expressive of the “precious blood.” The voices come together
for the last notes.
1:13--END OF CHORUS [18 mm.]

2. Adoramus te, Christe (We adore Thee, Christ). Liturgical antiphon for Good
Friday.
Allegro. Continuous four-voice canon with coda. A MINOR, Cut time (4/2).

Latin Text:
Adoramus te, Christe,
et benedicimus tibi;
Quia per sanctam crucem tuam
redemisti mundum,
qui passus es pro nobis
Domine, miserere nobis.

English Translation [the set text only goes through “Lord, have mercy on us.” The
line before that, “qui passus es pro nobis,” (“and have suffered [death] for us”)
is not included in the link]

The canon is continuous, moving down the parts. The second sopranos enter a fourth
below the first sopranos, the first altos a fifth below the top voice, and the
second
altos an octave below.
0:00 [m. 1]--“Adoramus te, Christe.” The voices enter in succession on a rising
scale. The distance between the two soprano parts is one bar, that between the two
middle parts (second soprano and first alto) is two bars, and that between the two
alto parts is again one bar. The two soprano parts sing a descending figure in
long
notes on “et” as the alto parts complete the preceding phrase.
0:24 [m. 8]--“et benedicimus tibi.” The first sopranos are somewhat isolated on
the active oscillating figure on “benedicimus.” The other voices continue to
imitate,
the two alto parts including the descending long-note figure on “et.” The word
“Christe”
from the previous phrase is completed in the second altos. The music has moved to
the related major key of C.
0:33 [m. 11]--“Quia per sanctam crucem tuam.” The sopranos begin the next line,
a long descending phrase in two sequences. The alto parts are still completing
“benedicimus
tibi.”
0:42 [m. 15]--“redemisti mundum.” As the first sopranos begin this active arching
phrase, the second sopranos are still completing “crucem tuam” and the altos begin
the entire “Qua per sanctam crucem tuam” phrase. All parts state “redemisti
mundum”
twice. The music moves back to a minor key, D minor.
0:51 [m. 18]--“qui passus es pro nobis.” The canon eventually breaks on this
phrase.
It establishes a descending scale pattern. The second sopranos complete
“redemisti
mundum,” the second altos are still completing “crucem tuam,” and both alto parts
begin “redemisti mundum.” The first phrase on “qui passus es pro nobis” is
imitated
by all parts. The first sopranos state “pro nobis” again five times, the fourth
of which is quite extended. The second sopranos also repeat it five times, the
first
two continuing to imitate the first sopranos. The altos eventually complete their
imitation of the entire phrase, and each repeats “pro nobis” only twice more,
together
in harmony. The first altos take a break as the second altos “catch up.” Neither
alto part imitates the sopranos on the repetitions of “pro nobis.” At this point,
the voices come together on the established descending scale on their repetitions
of “pro nobis,” where the canon breaks, and everything comes to a pause on an
expectant
“dominant” chord. D minor and G minor have led back to A.
1:25 [m. 27]--“Domine, miserere nobis.” This passage, as a coda, is set in block
chords. The first “Domine” is on A major. The second, extended by one chord on
the first syllable, moves to G major through the circle of fifths. The setting of
“miserere” places two chords on the first syllable, while “nobis” is in longer
notes
with a moving resolution in the first alto line. The whole “miserere nobis” moves
back to A major in a very satisfying cadence.
2:09--END OF CHORUS [36 mm.]

3. Regina coeli (Queen of Heaven). One of the four Marian antiphons. Allegro.
Canon in contrary motion with soloists and choral interjections. F MAJOR, 4/4
time.

Latin Text:
Regina coeli laetare, alleluia.
Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia.
Resurrexit sicut dixit, alleluia.
Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.

Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia.


Quia surrexit Dominus vero, alleluia.

English Translation

The soloists sing in canon by contrary motion throughout, and their imitation is
easy to hear. The choir sings block interjections on “Alleluia” for the most part,
but there is a section in canon (also in contrary motion) for the choir that is
likewise
easily perceptible aurally.
0:00 [m. 1]--“Regina coeli laetare, alleluia.” The two soloists begin their
sectional
canon. The alto soloist follows the soprano, exactly inverting her line. Broken
chords and exuberant scales are the primary material. The singers present the text
two times, each time stating the word “Regina” twice. As the soprano soloist
begins
her two “alleluias,” the choir joins with punctuating chords on that word, which
is sung three times. The choir confirms a full cadence after the alto soloist
finishes
her two “alleluias.”
0:20 [m. 11]--“Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia.” The soloists begin a similar
phrase, but with wider leaps to the scales, resulting in larger spacing between
them.
The phrase, cutting off the word “quia,” is repeated three more times by them.
The choir enters with three more “alleluia” interjections as the alto soloist
finishes
her last “meruisti portare.” The soloists begin their single “alleluia” scales
after
the choir has begun. The soprano soloist begins the next section as the choir
finishes
its cadence, having moved to the closely related dominant key of C major.
0:38 [m. 22]--“Resurrexit sicut dixit, alleluia.” The soprano soloist begins her
phrase as the choir is still finishing the last one. She begins high, with a
downward
cascading line and light syncopation at the beginning. The alto again mirrors her
exactly, beginning in her low range. The text is stated twice by each, and the
music
is somewhat more subdued. The soprano soloist begins her “alleluia” right before
the choir enters (again with three interjections). The soloists have two
“alleluia”
scales apiece. The music has moved to yet another key, the relative minor (D
minor).

0:55 [m. 31]--“Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.” This phrase is similar to the last
one, the solo voices beginning high and low, respectively, with light syncopation
at the beginning. They each state the text three times, remaining in an expressive
D minor. The choir entrance is more elaborate this time, with the choral altos
entering
as the alto soloist is finishing. At first, the choral sopranos make staggered
entries
after the altos, but they do come together. The choral parts also incorporate some
scale figures now, even with hints of imitation, as soprano lines follow in the
opposite
direction as the altos. There is much voice crossing. The number of their
“alleluias”
is expanded to five. The soloists each have two “alleluias” against the choir, the
first ones ending with opposing octave leaps. The expanded “alleluia” passage
makes
a large motion back to F major and again becomes exuberant.
1:20 [m. 45]--The soloists have a brief twofold reprise of “Regina coeli” before
introducing the “Gaude et laetere” text. The music is similar to the opening. The
choir enters as the alto soloist imitates this text, beginning its large canonic
passage (where the soloists will otherwise be absent) on this brief overlap.
1:26 [m. 49]--“Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, quia surrexit Dominus vero.” The
entry
of this large choral passage overlaps slightly with the soloists’ only statement
of “Gaude et laetare.” The soloists do not sing the following text. The choir
takes
over in an impressive passage of exact canon between the two soprano parts and the
two alto parts, the altos mirroring in the opposite direction. The passage is an
extreme feat of compositional virtuosity, with the sustained contrary imitation
diminishing
and closing itself off before the final “alleluias.” The choir does not interject
the “alleluia” before “quia surrexit Dominus vero.” “Virgo Maria” is stated three
times, and there is much text repetition of small portions of the following phrase.
Each part states “surrexit” twice, “Dominus” four times, and “vero” three times
in this free repetition.
2:02 [m. 68]--“Alleluia.” Brahms summarizes everything in the final “alleluia”
passage.
It is extremely joyous. The soprano soloist gets five “alleluias” while the alto
soloist only gets four. Their continuous mirror imitation finally breaks at the
end, the alto’s third “alleluia” being a imitation of the soprano’s third, but sung
under her fourth. Their final “alleluia” is sung together. The choir is even more
elaborately gifted, with each of the four parts singing seven alleluias. The
choral
second sopranos and second altos even introduce a new canon (exact, not opposite
imitation) a beat after their respective soloists’ first “alleluia.” More similar
descending scales from the sopranos, more choral near-imitation of the soloists,
and much voice crossing creates a wonderful web of musical lines before everyone
finally comes together on the last “alleluia.”
2:28--END OF CHORUS [76 mm.]
END OF SET

BRAHMS LISTENING GUIDES HOME CELLO SONATA NO. 1 in E MINOR, OP. 38


Recording: Yo-Yo Ma, cello and Emanuel Ax, piano [RCA Red Seal 82876-59415-2]
Published 1866. Dedicated to Dr. Josef Gänsbacher.

Brahms had considered a violin sonata in A minor for inclusion among his earliest
publications, but the piece was rejected and destroyed. This cello sonata is the
earliest published work for solo instrument and piano, and the only example from
the period of first maturity, which is rich in other chamber music genres. Brahms
appreciated the cello’s qualities as a melodic voice, and had given it the opening
themes of the B-major Piano Trio and the B-flat-major String Sextet. It was
composed
for and dedicated to Josef Gänsbacher, a singing teacher and amateur cellist. It
comes from the time when Brahms was transitioning to full-time residence in Vienna.
The sonata is known for its generally somber character and consciously archaic
elements.
Brahms, like Beethoven, emphasized the equality of the two instruments by
publishing
it as “Sonata for Piano with Violoncello.” He had originally written a slow
movement,
but rejected and discarded it before publication, settling on the unusual three-
movement
design with the scherzo-type movement (in this case a minuet) in the middle. The
most original movement is the finale, much of which can properly be described as
a fugue, but which has a non-fugal second theme and certain elements of sonata
form.
The main fugue theme, or “subject,” is explicitly related to that of Contrapunctus
13 from Bach’s “The Art of Fugue.” There also seems to be some homage to
Beethoven,
who wrote a fugue as the finale for his late D-major cello sonata, Op. 102, No. 2.
The middle movement also has a retrospective character. In addition to the minuet
dance rhythms from an earlier era, the movement contains austere modal elements
reminiscent
of Renaissance harmony. The central trio section is more “romantic” in character,
and skillfully uses the minuet’s opening gesture as a departure. The more
expansive
opening movement relies heavily on the cello’s low register, especially in the very
broad opening theme. This theme also has a certain affinity to Bach’s “The Art of
Fugue,” in this case the inverted form of that work’s main subject as seen in
Contrapunctus
3 and 4, but this connection is more tenuous than that of the fugal finale. The
extensive second group closes with a striking lullaby. The exposition repeat is
less effective than usual in Brahms because of the somewhat literal recapitulation.
The major-key ending provides respite from the sonata’s severe overall mood.
After
it was rejected by the publisher to whom it was first offered, Brahms sold the
sonata
to a second firm, stating that the piece was “certainly not difficult to play” for
either instrument. This is surely one of the most disingenuous statements ever
made
by a major composer about his own work. The piano part is thick and active
throughout,
becoming downright treacherous in the finale’s main fugue sections, and a wide
range
of cello technique is also demanded.

IMSLP WORK PAGE


ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut Lübeck)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (Later Issue of First Edition with Cello Part)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (from Breitkopf & Härtel Sämtliche Werke)

1st Movement: Allegro non troppo (Sonata-Allegro form). E MINOR, 4/4 time.
EXPOSITION
0:00 [m. 1]--Theme 1, Part 1. The cello begins in its lowest range and presents
the expressive, melancholy melody, which starts on its low E. The piano
accompanies
with simple chords on the weak beats. It rises with a prominent dotted rhythm
(long-short)
and then moves to a characteristic turn figure. Rising higher, the cello melody
turns toward the harmony of the “dominant” key, B major. After two wide downward
leaps of an octave and a ninth, it reaches a cadence on B. The piano continues its
chords on weak beats.
0:25 [m. 9]--Theme 1, Part 2. The cello line, now marked dolce, moves to the
higher
register in a continuation of the melody. The dotted rhythm is still prominent.
The piano continues to play chords on the weak second and fourth beats of the
measure,
defining the harmony. At first, the key seems to veer toward the “relative” major
key, G major. After a slow triplet rhythm, the cello soars even higher and the
harmony
moves back to E minor as the volume builds. As the cello reaches its highest note,
the piano finally breaks its steady chords, rolling and holding a dissonant
“diminished
seventh.” The cello, exposed, winds and settles back down, leading to the next
phrase.

0:53 [m. 21]--Theme 1, Part 3. The piano takes the opening melody, doubling it in
high octaves between the hands with some harmonic decoration. Meanwhile, the cello
continues its downward line, utilizing some broad triplet rhythms and working back
to its original low register. After the turn figure, the piano’s upward line
suddenly
builds, making a harmonic move toward C major. The cello follows with its own
upward
line, culminating in a large leap and further moving the harmony toward F. Another
such exchange follows on F with the piano lower and the cello higher. The piano
settles into rising arpeggios doubled in octaves and moving back to E minor. The
cello returns to its low register and reaches a close in E minor.
1:18 [m. 33]--Transition. The piano holds its cadence chord while the cello moves
up to the note G. This note is used to pivot to C major, and the piano confirms
the motion. On C, the cello begins to elaborate dreamily on the main melody. The
piano breaks into rippling high triplet figures in the right hand and colorful
chords,
also in the treble range, in the left. The harmony and melody are both very
chromatic,
and the inflections toward the minor key are strong enough that it is really a C
major/minor mix. After four bars, the cello moves to octave leaps, the minor-key
inflections disappear, and a weak cadence is reached.
1:38 [m. 42]--The piano left hand moves to the bass and establishes a “pedal point”
on C, leaping down the octave. The triplet rhythms move to the right hand and are
all downward. The key wavers between C and F major. At the same time, the cello
begins a sequence based on a motion down a step, a repeated note, and a motion up
a step. The first two times, the pattern, building in volume, leads to a held note
and a yearning downward motion. This echoes the last cadence hidden in the piano
triplets. After four bars, the held notes are omitted and the simple arch pattern
prevails. At that point, the hands of the piano reverse roles. The right hand
takes
the “pedal point” octaves in the high range while the triplets, now rising, move
to the bass.
1:54 [m. 50]--At the end of the last passage, both instruments introduced chromatic
notes suggesting C or F minor. But the piano bass touched on the foreign note F-
sharp,
which now becomes the new “pedal point.” It moves back to the bass, and the
triplets
go back to the high treble, again descending. The cello continues to surge forward
on the same pattern. After four bars, the pattern halts with a sharp chord. Both
hands of the piano and the cello begin to outline a chord on F-sharp in rising
arpeggios,
but descending notes in the cello, then the piano, reveal this harmony as the
preparatory
“dominant” of B minor, the key of Theme 2.
2:09 [m. 58]--Theme 2. It begins with a canon between the cello and the piano
right
hand. The cello leads, beginning with an upbeat and repeatedly outlining the chord
of the new key (B minor). The piano follows in imitation. The line is harmonized
using the notes of the chord. The left hand also uses these notes in downward
arpeggios.
The canon continues until the cello breaks free with a more passionate melody.
At first, the piano accompaniment retains the rhythm and syncopation of the canon,
but then supports the cello melody. After an expressive turn, the cello works to
a cadence on F-sharp (the “dominant” of B minor).
2:26 [m. 66]--The piano right hand, in the middle range, returns to B minor and
starts
to outline the chord again. The volume is suddenly hushed. The left hand follows,
but not in canon. Instead, it begins a low murmur with stepwise motion. The right
hand continues to outline the chord. After three bars, the cello enters and joins
the piano bass on the low murmur. The piano then begins a more subdued version of
the passionate melody. The cello works downward, playing in counterpoint. The
piano
begins to play in octaves, and its melody stalls, then trails down to a halting
cadence
with a descending fifth. The last cadence motion is repeated an octave higher, and
the cello follows it a beat later in another brief canon.
3:00 [m. 79]--Closing theme. With an atmospheric change to B major, the piano
right
hand begins a gentle, almost lullaby-like melody. Meanwhile, the cello and the
piano
bass continue to play the descending fifth, the piano bass beginning on the upbeat
and the cello following on the downbeat.
3:10 [m. 83]--After four bars of the lullaby melody, the cello takes it over and
the piano right hand briefly continues the imitation of the bass, which moves away
from the fifth and reaches an octave. This imitation only continues for two
measures,
and then the right hand harmonizes the cello, leaving the piano bass alone on the
octave. The cello statement is much more chromatic, but remains in major. At its
cadence, the piano bass returns to the fifth, and the melody reaches a full close,
the piano right hand moving above the cello.
3:24 [m. 88]--Transition. The cello drops out, and the piano right hand, in the
tenor range, plays descending thirds, moving to the home key of E minor. The bass
subtly shifts toward broken octaves on C and B to help facilitate the move back.
The right hand thirds repeat their last motion, setting up the repeat.
EXPOSITION REPEATED
3:32 [m. 91a (1)]--Theme 1, Part 1, as at the beginning. The last measure of the
first ending is identical to the first measure of the movement.
3:55 [m. 9]--Theme 1, Part 2, as at 0:25.
4:22 [m. 21]--Theme 1, Part 3, as at 0:53.
4:47 [m. 33]--Transition with theme in C major/minor, as at 1:18.
5:08 [m. 42]--Pedal point on C and buildup with stepwise arching pattern in cello,
as at 1:38.
5:24 [m. 50]--Pedal point on F-sharp, then arpeggios leading to second theme in B
minor, as at 1:54.
5:39 [m. 58]--Theme 2, beginning with canon on B-minor chord, then passionate
melody,
as at 2:09.
5:56 [m. 66]--Softer murmuring motion in bass, then motion to cadence, as at 2:26.

6:29 [m. 79]--Closing theme. Lullaby-like melody in piano with continuing bass
fifth
canon, as at 3:00.
6:39 [m. 83]--Chromatic cello statement of B-major lullaby melody, as at 3:10.
6:53 [m. 88]--Transition, as at 3:24. At the second ending (m. 90b), the piano
bass
makes a subtle change by staying on the broken C octave instead of moving to B.
The right hand has the same notes, but the last third is notated as an augmented
second instead of a minor third. These subtle changes help to make the harmonic
change to G major (and minor) instead of E minor. The development begins in G.
DEVELOPMENT
7:02 [m. 91b]--The cello makes the opening gesture of the main theme in a mixture
of G major and minor, supported by middle-range harmonies in the right hand and the
continuing broken octaves in the left. The piano right hand moves up and echoes
the gesture with chordal harmonies. It then moves an octave higher, and altered
harmonies immediately change the key to B-flat major. The cello takes over the
bass
rocking motion, with varying wide intervals. The piano chords seem very bright
after
this change to B-flat. They continue, adding a gentle decorative turn figure in
the left hand, to an expressive cadence.
7:22 [m. 99]--The previous pattern is repeated and varied. The piano begins with
another Theme 1 gesture, adding minor-key elements. The cello echoes it, and the
rocking motion moves to the piano bass. The same harmonic motion also follows,
from
B-flat to D-flat (using the same key relationships). This time, the cello has the
top melodic note of the chords as well as the gentle decorative turn, the right
hand
adds internal motion, the rocking motion remains in the piano bass, and the
expressive
cadence arrives in D-flat.
7:41 [m. 107]--The cello establishes a “pedal point” on D-flat, leaping up and down
octaves on the note. Meanwhile, the piano bass begins Theme 1 in that key, mixing
major and minor again. The right hand has the rocking motion, now in close
harmonies.
After four measures, the cello leaps up, taking over the Theme 1 material. But
it then leaps back down to a low F, anticipating the next harmonic motion.