Review on Brahms's Third Symphony

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  • Topic: Tempo, Orchestra, Symphony
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  • Published : May 2, 2005
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Review on Brahms's Third Symphony

Symphony No.3, Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) Op.90, F Major

Allegro con brio
Poco allegretto

Brahms was at the zenith of his powers when he wrote the third Symphony. He finished it during the summer of 1883, in Wiesbaden, whence in early May, soon after his fiftieth birthday. We can picture Brahms that summer, in the very prime of his life, his great intellectual and emotional powers fully developed and his mastery widely acknowledged, walking much about Wiesbaden, mediating the strong and happy music that is third symphony by Brahms.

None of the other three symphonies by Brahms is there a happy balance of freshness of inspiration with technical mastery and maturity. This is also a hard symphony to perform well. XiaoLu Li, the music director and principal conductor of the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra remarks: It's like a battle. The general and soldiers fought bravely and won the battle. The general came back without arrogance, sitting on the chair with a cup of coffee and said confidently, I did it.

The symphony contains four movements. The boldness of the motto theme, F-A flat-F, sounded in the opening of the first movement by horns, trumpets and wood wind caused peoples' attention. The impetuous main theme continued then with the passionate downward sweep of the violins. Vigor was enhanced. Rhythm was then quickened first in horn then in trumpet and finally in clarinets and other winds. The first theme then quieted to a cadence leading to the second theme. The beautiful second theme appeared in the clarinet and then followed by oboes which delightfully made the variation. Then a gradual increase of animation forced the theme all the way up to the vigorous cadence. The recapitulation of themes followed an agitation and restlessness which led to a new and stormy climax which in turn gave way to blander harmonies...
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