Friday, August 12, 2005

Beethoven's Ninth: Allegro, II

It took me a while to decide how to label measures 21 through 34. Though there are thematic elements present, they are either very generic, such as measures 21 and 22, or they are very undeveloped, such as the rhythmic figure in measures 27 and 29. So, I decided to call these measures a cadential episode, and I will simply refer back to them as subsequent variations on them, and further developments of them, recur.

In measure 21, we get the first leading tone as a part of the first complete dominant triad, and across the bar line, the first real cadence. Note the smooth scalar progression of do through le in the upper voice from the beginning of measure 21 to the beginning of measure 24: The voice leading might appear to be fractured at first glance, but it is really totally smooth and simply has some octave doubling present within it.

Nothing B does is ever will o' the wisp, and the tonicisation of the fourth degree into measure 24 is no exception: This region of the home key will return later with further preorations. Note the incompleteness of the iv chord, which allows Beethoven to introduce the E-flat on the second eighth note of that measure creating the Neapolitan Sixth. Now, I analyze this chord as a flat-II major 6/3 and relate to it simply as one of the pantheon of secondary subdominant sonorities available through modal interchange - borrowed from the Phrygian mode in this case - but B doubtless related to it in the traditional way, so out of defference, I have included the traditional rationalization in the analysis. I have placed an asterisk above that E-flat, because there really is no way to over-emphasize it's significance: The entire development of this movement uses the pitch of E-flat as a gravitational center around which virually everything orbits. The fact that the pitch level climax of this first statement area occurs immediately afterwards is doubtless B's way of drawing attention to this fact.

I find the spicyness of the off-beat sonorities delicious, and so I added the analysis of the passing tones to measures 25 and 26: I do a lot of this sort of thing, because I want to fully digest whatever details I find interesting. The augmented eleventh is particularly nice, and defines the subdominant nature of the Neapolitan sonority authoritatively (Which by this time I percieve to be in root position).

The rhythmic figure in measures 27 and 29 is a "seed" that will eventually develop into a full-blown thematic statement, as I alluded to previously.

Another thing B does is leave high melodic notes "hanging", and then he returns to those pitch levels later and continues with the line. The D in measure 33 is an example of this: He'll return to it later in the exposition, and that D itseld is the resolution of the C-sharp in measure 27.

The 32nd note figure in measures 34 and 35 is another "seed" that will later be developed into one of the closing themes of the exposition, and it is amazingly cool how it acts as a staple or a piece of tape across the seam that connects the first statement area with the second: That seam is completely obscured by the figure. Note also that the i(6/4) never resolves to the V so there is another element of incompleteness here having to do with the cadence. B's little strip of tape does give the leading tone momentarily, but on the downbeat over the tonic "resolution". I absolutely love slick little details like that.

At measure 35 t1 returns, but now on the tonic level, so the entire first statement area reduces down to a V to i progression. Note also that were it not for two extra measures of cadential movement interjected into the first phrase on this page, this would be the most common type of 32 bar phrase group.

The t1 restatement on the tonic level initially proceeds as if there won't be any variation of it save for the pitch level. That initial impression is not negated until during the course of the second 16th note of measure 49 the pitch B-flat is introduced, creating an incomplete flat-VI chord. By this device Beethoven is able to make the second statements of t1a and the main theme, t2, in the region of the major submediant. I have analyzed these as being in the key of B-flat major, even though no definitive modulation has been made, so that the analysis will match up with the initial analysis of those themes on the tonic minor level: Beethoven is continuously using this slippery and incomplete trait as a characteristic of this movement, so some summarily subjective decisions are simply unaviodable.

Cadential episode two uses the head figure of the main theme, and is nothing like the first cadential episode, but note the similarity: The subdominant degree is again tonicised, and so yet more prefiguring of later development of this region is given.


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