Beethoven’s 5th Symphony is a piece with lots of elements with numerous movements. I have to say my first emotion was a deep shock of anxiety and fantasies. I realized after listening over and over and over again that the intro note is what was played in almost all the piece but in different movement or variation. The opening da-da-da-dum was quite fascinating and just made my adrenaline rush like alas!!! I am stunned by that sound and just suddenly, it descends into a decrescendo through some soft strings that softly or gently surfaced after the strong motif. This is a substantial contrast for a few reasons: One being a dynamic contrast to the forte V-theme. The second being a rhythmic contrast. The rhythmic difference between the V-theme which opens with the whole orchestra playing such a simple rhythm to then the response by the individual sections as the play a complex series of repeating variations that descends down and down until the V-theme is again released, this time on higher notes. It’s a pattern of starting simple then it becomes more and more complex until it summons the terrible V-theme. Then after the third or so time of this a clarion call of a French horn ushers in the development in the dominant key.
The development starts out so tranquil. It plays a happy melody for a bit, although there is still that contentious motif from the exposition which looms underneath. When put back into the historical context for this piece it puts me in mind of the merry Aristocrats of France living their happy baroque lives perhaps attending a ball. While they are living the high life the mounting of pressure on the lower classes is starting to build up pressure until it erupts into revolution. The merry waltz the aristocrats are enjoying is interrupted by that ominous V-theme, and they are pulled out side – so to speak – to view the dark sorrowful state of things. Its building sadness and worry until the thematic degradation slips in before the recapitulation
The degradation takes place after somewhat of the epicenter of the development. All the strings and brass joined in an intense unison on a complex rhythm, again the contrast of volume and rhythmic complexity is exploited. The thematic degradation induces a sinking feeling, as the quiet notes become ever fainter. Things become still. It is here where it’s as life itself is slipping away. It is as the breathing of a dying man. It becomes so still, and the pathos so pronounced. Then a fury of activity quickly escalates into the V-theme. At this moment when the V-theme sounds it’s almost like declaration or cry. In my mind I imagine an aristocrat holding the peasant who pulled him from the party and showed him their pain and suffering as he dies. The V-theme comes from the aristocrat as he makes angry resolution for justice.
The ensuing oboe cadenza is like the personal grief of the individual. Which is only caught up and drowned in the tide of strings that leads the to second capitulation. Where unchanged the aristocrats are back at it. Again, the uneasy motifs press in on the happy themes. The unhappy themes are pressed aside into the swelling grand displays by the orchestra. As if the aristocracy is flexing its muscles. The coda is clearly the resolve and conflict. Where all the themes are brought together, and it’s almost like a great discourse, turned into conflict where it is resolved when the V-theme comes back in and it’s concluded. My overall emotional reaction to the piece is anxiety as I wasn’t sure what next will happen or hear in the course of the play. It is a back and forth a cat mouse of contrast. It’s not one that I will listen to when I need to rest or be calm or even study. It really triggers uncertainty in me. I felt like thrown around like I was rambling with my eyes bounded with a black cloth
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