Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Romantic Era > Serenade No. 2. Op. 16 - Brahms
Serenade No. 2. Op. 16
The second serenade of Brahms, in A major, is a greater favorite with a popular audience than the first in D, possibly because its melodious character imparts to it more of the conventional serenade quality, though one eminent German critic has said that the relations of the two are those of sister and brother, the brother evidently being the Serenade in D, which is more massively constructed and composed for full orchestra, whereas the sister serenade is written only for woodwinds, horns, violas, cellos, and double basses. The violins, which usually do the principal part in serenade lovemaking, are silent.
The opening theme is given out in the clarinets and bassoons with responses in the remaining wind instruments, and after development, lead to the second, a joyous theme stated by the clarinets. The development of these two themes and the subsidiary passages close this very romantic movement. The second movement, Scherzo, is in regular form, its two fresh, charming themes beautifully interwoven, though the first dominates the movement. The third movement is an Adagio, beginning with a slow, quiet, dreamy rhythm in the strings, forming a background to a melody in the flute and clarinet of the same general character. After development of this material an intermezzo occurs, devoted to a fresh, piquant melody, and a repetition of the first part closes the movement. The fourth movement is a Minuet and Trio in usual form, which is charmingly melodious in its construction. The last movement is a brilliant Rondo, the principal theme of which is announced in the clarinet. The second theme is more expressive, and is taken in canon form in the clarinets and bassoons. Its elaboration closes the serenade. The two serenades are dignified, massive works, constructed in the sonata style, every movement precisely formal and classic, and of such length and general fashion that it is unlikely either of them will ever he heard under a fair one's window or resound to the tinklings of guitars or the jinglings of castanets.