Favorite Climaxes

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allegroamabile
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Favorite Climaxes

Postby allegroamabile » Tue Dec 29, 2009 6:01 am

I have another question to ask all of you. What are some of your favorite climaxes? Here are some of mine. Please keep in mind that these are in no order whatsoever.

Antonin Dvorak- Mass in D major, Op. 86: I. Kyrie
This is in the middle part of the first movement. I love how the strings and brass interplay with each other under the rich sound of the chorus. It finally ends on a glorious D major tonic chord in root position. Then it immediately transitions into the b-flat major "Christe, christe eleison" section. This showcases the genius of Dvorak.
http://imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/8/85/IMSLP26830-PMLP59531-Dvorak-Op086VSnov.pdf page 9, center of the page

Sergei Rachmaninov- Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 44: III. Adagio and IV. Allegro vivace
There are two climaxes in the third movement that are amazing, and then there is one towards the very end of the last. These leave you with goosebumps.

Alexander Glazunov- Symphony No. 3 in D major: I. Allegro
Glazunov was a master at creating climaxes and it is definitely apparent here. Towards the end of the first movement, things start to wind and calm down. Then the melody first introduced towards the beginning of the piece by the clarinet and cello (I love how Glazunov hands different parts of a melody off to various instruments) appears again over a clarinet performing some beautiful, elaborate ornamentations first built on d major chord then modulating into various keys. The melody is handed off from strings to oboe and back again. Then the strings take the melody with the rest of the orchestra under them. All of this creates this warm, rich, golden sound which reminds one of Borodin. Then an energetic coda proceeds this which concludes the first movement.

Darius Milhaud- Suite francaise: IV. Alsace-Loranne
This movement, from a masterpiece composed for wind band, is very elegiac in nature. Saxophones start the movement with a gorgeous, solemn melody. The climax, which is at the end, ends this elegy with triumphant declaration of the saxophones stating the original theme under brass singing out these magnificent fanfares. I believe this movement ends on a D major chord (I am not sure since I do not have the music in front of me).

William Schuman- Symphony No. 4: First Movement
This symphony begins with a simple duet between the English horn and a solo double bass. Schuman basically keeps adding layers of sound over this ostinato accompaniment that the double bass first plays at the very beginning of the work. This gradual build up of tension is very powerful and dramatic.

Bedrich Smetana- Ma vlast: II. Moldau
The climax here is when the orchestra states the main theme again in a major key. I love how Smetana at the end of this movement makes the listener imagine the river gently flowing forward and away into the horizon, then caps it off with two brilliant chords.

Johannes Brahms- Sonata for Piano and Violin in A major: I. Allegro amabile
This is placed in the center of the movement where the main theme recapitulates. The violin then soars high with the piano answering with beautiful, elaborate runs. After the short yet powerful climax is completed, the piano sings a reflective melody marked teneramente.

Please note how none of the climaxes I mentioned are by Gustav Mahler, Anton Bruckner, or Richard Strauss.
Last edited by allegroamabile on Thu Jul 15, 2010 10:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

dwil9798
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Re: Favorite Climaxes

Postby dwil9798 » Tue Dec 29, 2009 6:47 pm

Great question. In no particular order, I would say:

Wagner: Tristan und Isolde - Contains the best climaxes in all of music. My favorite comes at the end of the famous love duet. Tristan and Isolde build off of the famous Leibestod motif as the reach their final line "Höchste Leibes lust!" repeated. As the orchestra builds to a huge fortissimo, we wait for resolution, but just as it is to be fulfilled, a shattering chord replaces the expected climax. Brangane screams, and the horn call that opened Scene 1 of Act 2 is heard. They have been discovered by King Marke's hunting party! What makes this climax so great is that this exact music is heard during Isolde's Leibestod, but instead of the jarring discord we get a beautiful E major sixth. Absolutely fantastic, wonderful, beautiful music.

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 7 Mvt. 1 - The march theme blares at a full FFF, and just as we think it will never stop, a dampened gong halts the march in its tracks. Great climax.

Schoenberg: A Survivor from Warsaw - " . . .became faster and faster, so fast that it finally sounded like a stampede of wild horses, and all of a sudden, in the middle of it, they began singing the Shema Yisroel!"

Bruckner: Symphony No. 7 Mvt. 2 - The trumpets sound the triumphant motif first played by the strings in the early bars of the movement. They build and build until finally (in the Nowak edition) the cymbals clash and the timpani and triangle roll as the motif is sounded again. Amazing music.

Sibelius: Symphony No. 7 - Usually don't like his music, but I love the climax in the seventh when the solo trombone plays the D-C-G-C-D-E motif for the first time over the entire orchestra. Really is great music.

I'm sure I could think of more. You'll notice I have no works by Brahms. :D

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Re: Favorite Climaxes

Postby allegroamabile » Tue Dec 29, 2009 10:11 pm

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 7 Mvt. 1 - The march theme blares at a full FFF, and just as we think it will never stop, a dampened gong halts the march in its tracks. Great climax.


I knew someone was going to pick the climax from Shostakovich 7...

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Re: Favorite Climaxes

Postby pocoallegro » Thu Dec 31, 2009 12:58 am

There are so many, but here are a few of my favorites:

Mozart - Nozze di Figaro
The end of Act II is thrilling when all of the characters begin singing together with that grand accelerando

Mozart - Don Giovanni
The finale when the Comendatore reappears

Mozart - La clemenza di Tito
The lovely suspensions in Servilia's and Annio's duet; the choral writing in the burning of Rome

Mozart - Violin Concert No. 5
The final movement, as the "Turkish" march begins

Schubert - Lieder
Many of them have great climaxes: Gretchen Am Spinnrade, Doppelganger, etc.

Chopin - Scherzi for piano
All four have FABULOUS endings!

Schumann - Symphony No. 2
That beautiful crecendo in the middle of the slow movement!

Berlioz - La mort d'Ophelia
A beautiful song with a mournfully climactic ending

Wagner - Operas
Great moments in ALL of them, but a the duet between Siegmund and Siegelinde in Walkure Act I has some ecstatic music

Brahms - Piano Trio No. 1
The beautiful coda of the first movement

Borodin - Symphony No. 1
The final movement has thrilling climaxes

Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exposition
The great climax of the Great Gate of Kiev, of course!

Tchaikovsky - Maid of Orleans
The climax of Jeanne's aria!

Thaikovsky - Symphony No. 5
Great climaxes in every movement

Mahler - Das Lied von der Erde
The angelic climax at the end of the last movement

Strauss - Der Rosenkavalier
The end of the Trio in the last Act

Schoenburg - Gurrelieder
The end of Tove's fourth song

Sibelius - Violin Concerto
The end of the first movement is amazing

Berg - Three Pieces for Orchestra
The Praeludium has a GREAT climax

Debussy - La Mer
End of the first movement

Ravel - Daphnis et Chloe
The final dance

de Falla - El amor brujo
The bell-scene in the finale

Vaughan Williams - London Symphony
The last movement, after the huge climax it disolves into a gorgeous music

Howells - Hymnus Paradisi
The last movement, "Holy is the True Light," ends with a great climax!

Copland - Symphony for Organ and Orchestra
The scherzo movement has a really thrilling climax

Gershwin - Porgy and Bess
The end of "Bess you is my woman now"

I'll stop for now - I highly recommend all of these! Happy New Years!!

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Re: Favorite Climaxes

Postby dwil9798 » Thu Dec 31, 2009 5:25 am

pocoallegro wrote:Schoenburg - Gurrelieder
The end of Tove's fourth song


Or the climax of Waldemar's "So tanzen die Engel". Schoenberg did write some glorious stuff, you know.

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Re: Favorite Climaxes

Postby allegroamabile » Thu Dec 31, 2009 6:13 am

pocoallegro wrote:Ravel - Daphnis et Chloe


What about the one in the first movement?!
Last edited by allegroamabile on Fri Jan 01, 2010 3:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Favorite Climaxes

Postby sbeckmesser » Thu Dec 31, 2009 9:00 am

Among many:

Mahler Symphony N0.8, 2nd mvmt, the buildup from "Alles Vergängliche ist nur ein Gleichnis" to the end, a passage I prefer to the similarly over-the-top end of Mahlers 2nd symphony.

Strauss: Rosenkavalier, Act 3 trio, following a buildup made of of suspensions and appogiaturas and a harmonic sideslip leading to and the tremendous V/I cadence.
Strauss: Rosenkavalier, Act 2, buildup to and entry of the title character, one of the great entrance-music passages in all opera.

--Sixtus

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Re: Favorite Climaxes

Postby allegroamabile » Sat Jan 02, 2010 1:25 am

I don't know if I should consider this a climax since it concludes a movement, but the build up at the end of the first movement of Holst's Suite No. 1 in E-flat for Band is phenomenal.

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Re: Favorite Climaxes

Postby DaveF » Sun Jan 03, 2010 8:29 pm

What an interesting topic. Very Romantic things, climaxes, aren't they? But a good "early music" one for me comes towards the end of Byrd's Quadran Pavan and Galliard (Fitzwilliam Virginal Book vol.2 p.114) where, having brought us through a huge 15-minute structure, he can finally let rip with some simple fanfares. You can almost hear the old boy shouting "Yee hah!" Can anyone do an earlier one than that?

And so back to the Romantics (or modernists who were closet Romantics):

Berg helpfully indicates both the climaxes in part 2 of the Violin Concerto in the score (Hõhepunkt des Allegros and des Adagios). Both good, especially the latter, with horns bellowing the Bach chorale in inversion.

Nielsen's 6th symphony - the big F# major episode in the middle of the 1st movement (p.20 of the rather grainy score on the main site). Arguably not really a climax, since it bursts upon us from nowhere out of the preceding racket.

Shnitke's Concerto for piano & strings - ends with a climax to cap them all, the very Russian-Orthodox-Chant motto theme being attacked and literally smashed to bits by distorted versions of itself hammered out on the piano. Fig.73 of the score, about 20 minutes in.

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Re: Favorite Climaxes

Postby vinteuil » Sun Jan 03, 2010 9:58 pm

Well, someone had to mention the first and third movements of Shostakovich Op. 47...
But my favorite is the Deum de Deo, Lumen de Lumine of Beethoven Op. 123.
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Re: Favorite Climaxes

Postby pml » Mon Jan 04, 2010 12:10 am

Hi DF, I'll go one or two backwards and list some things I performed last year...

William Mundy's votive antiphon Vox patris caelestis is structured into nine sections with every third one swelling out to elaborate six-part polyphony, but the very end of the piece is built up into a superb double climax - a double gimmel in the upper two parts leads to a dramatic entry of the final tutti section, capped with an elaborate Amen.

Antoine Brumel's Earthquake mass has numerous climaxes distributed through many of the sections of the mass (the fugal Osanna has a superb climax), but the one at the start of the Credo is the one designed to literally shake the earth, after short exchanged passages for four and five voices, a quick build-up brings in the twelve-part tutti supported by the massive pillars of the cantus firmus in three-part canon (and those voices explicitly sing, “et ecce terrae motus”… and behold, the earth moved).

Johannes Ockeghem or Guillaume Dufay's isorhythmic motets often have a drive to the end, so in a piece like Intemerate Dei mater (Ockeghem) or Ecclesiae militantis (Dufay) both the change of metre and the increased animation of the polyphonic parts by the use of shorter note values builds the piece to a definite climax... in the case of the Dufay ending with a ear-strikingly medieval leading note appoggiatura (in organum, naturally) as the final cadence.

Anyone want to go earlier? PML
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Re: Favorite Climaxes

Postby DaveF » Mon Jan 04, 2010 10:44 pm

Well, Leonin's Viderunt omnes reaches a superb climax at a point 5 maximae before the second plainsong section... OK, I'm bluffing. But shame on both of us, Philip, for not having mentioned the end of the Judex movement in Brian's Gothic Symphony, or the big Maestoso about 5 minutes into no.16.

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Re: Favorite Climaxes

Postby pml » Mon Jan 04, 2010 11:21 pm

Ha! I think it would be hard (not impossible) to identify a "climax" in much stuff before Machaut to be honest, though I remember hearing a long composition by Abelard that its performers worked up into a lather (whether it was explicitly written into the music, or implied, I don't know). With the school of Léonin or Pérotin you've usually got no variability of dynamics, or voicing, or proportion of tempo as differentiation over the long span of music that would be used for that effect.

Funnily enough I didn't get a chance to perform the Gothic last year – there's a vague chance it might get up this year... and there's climaxes galore in Siegeslied too (like the crazy ones in the second movement, or the wonderful "Ein feste Burg" section in the third...), but I think the last minutes of the first movement have to take the prize there, for the sense of immense power and momentum, even while in actual tempo it's slowing down to the final cadence. PML
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Re: Favorite Climaxes

Postby allegroamabile » Wed Jan 06, 2010 4:51 am

I am sorry that I am unable to "one-up" any of you on early music at this particular moment in time, but I do have some beautiful, later music to share.

Gustav Holst- Suite No. 1 in E-flat major for Military Band: III. March
The climax here is towards the end occuring after the section where the two themes of the movement are played at the same time. The band takes the trio melody to its most majestic potential and climaxes with a powerful largando ending on a fortissississimo E-flat major tonic chord in root position. When that chord arrives, the band races to the finish to end this suite with a brilliant sounding set of triplets.

Gustav Holst- Suite No. 2 in F major for Military Band: IV. Fantasia on the Dargason
The climax in this piece is also towards the end where the Dargason theme and the Greensleeves melody meet once again, but in a fortississimo fashion.

Antonin Dvorak- Symphony No. 8 in G major: I. Allegro con brio
The climax that I am mentioning in this movement is where the brass agitatedly restates the theme first introduced at the beginning by the cellos and winds. I love the tension Dvorak builds up before this. After all, what makes a great climax is the build up of emotion that proceeds the climatic point. I also love what the strings are doing while the brass are performing this fanfare.
Last edited by allegroamabile on Fri Aug 06, 2010 10:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Favorite Climaxes

Postby sbeckmesser » Wed Jan 06, 2010 8:59 pm

pml wrote:Ha! I think it would be hard (not impossible) to identify a "climax" in much stuff before Machaut to be honest


I still remember, from decades ago, learning in college about the what we were told was the "largest leap in Gregorian chant" which occurs in the Easter gradual Haec dies, quam fecit Dominus during the unassuming word "quoniam" (because) in the Confitemini verse. This chant has an unusually wide range as a whole, and although the leap is not the result of a classical/romantic build-up, the fact that we students knew that it was coming made it sort of a climactic high point. Sense of musical climax clearly depends on expectation.

And there are chants by Hildegard von Bingen that do have a sense of buildup and climax, at least as they are often performed nowadays. It would be interesting to know if Medieval chant singers had the same sense of melodic high points as we have today. The important words usually do not correspond to what we hear as important points in the melodies, as in the Haec dies example. It would be nice to have some of Hildegard's stuff here, especially facsimilies of the original Medieval manuscripts at least some of which could be quite beautiful to look at.

--Sixtus

PS: IMSLP should have a copy of a PD Graduale Romanum. I don't know whether the one at the following link is PD or not. Haec dies is on page 241.
http://www.sanctamissa.org/en/music/gre ... -1961.html

PPS: On this page you can both hear the chant and follow along with the (modern) chant notation. Unfortunately, in the poor-sounding recording, the chant is accompanied by an organ (not in itself a bad or inauthentic thing) and it has been harmonized(!), which is anathema (to use an appropriate word) to purists and performance-practice nerds like me.
http://www.sanctamissa.org/en/music/gre ... ionis.html
Last edited by sbeckmesser on Thu Jan 07, 2010 2:50 am, edited 2 times in total.


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