chapter  2
46 Pages

The Early Minor-Mode Scherzos: Ghosts of Schumann

Byand Beethoven

Brahms's four late minor-mode scherzos generally follow the more common trajectory from conflict to resolution. This chapter considers the Allegro appassionato from the Clarinet Sonata, the lack of solid resolution found in the late C-minor scherzos. The movement from the clarinet sonata features large phrase expansions, tonal digressions, and sensitive tonal correspondences between its principal sections. The movement's tonal structure is anything but unremarkable, especially in the rhythmic-metric realization of foreground harmonies. The analysis of the scherzo will elucidate the ways that rhythm hinders establishment of the initial tonic harmony and the reassertion of that harmony at the thematic rounding. The thematic rounding departs substantially from the movement's opening but does not resolve its instabilities. Were the harmonies the same as at the beginning, this removal of the phenomenal accents from second beats would stabilize the projection of C minor. However, the thematic rounding features a more diatonic harmonic progression, which would be stabilized by agogic accents emphasizing chord changes.