Recording: Martin Jones, pianist [NI 1788]

Published 1853.  Dedicated “with deep respect” to Clara Schumann.

The F-sharp-minor sonata, Op. 2, is more overtly “romantic” than the C-major, Op. 1, which follows classical form more regularly.  It was actually composed in 1852, earlier than most of the C-major work, but the young composer placed the latter at the head of his publications at Schumann
’s recommendation.   Op. 2 is a type of “fantasy-sonata” in the spirit of some of Beethoven’s works, and later of Robert Schumann’s piano sonatas.  Unlike Op. 1, where the first movement was clearly the most weighty, Brahms shifts the emphasis here to the finale, which is in a full sonata form complete with repeat.  The first movement, by contrast, is a concise and tight argument, without a full coda or an exposition repeat.  It contains many passages of overt virtuosic display that are atypical of the composer, especially the second theme.  The second movement displays a great similarity to the corresponding variation movement of Op. 1.  It is again based on an “old German love poem,” although Brahms doesn’t explicitly state that here, and the melody is his own.  Again, there are three variations over the two-part theme, and again, the third is a rich major-key version.  As in Op. 1, Brahms directs the Scherzo to immediately follow the variations, and the movements are thematically linked as well.  But whereas in Op. 1, the connection was only a brief hint at the end of the variations, which came to a complete close, here the link is more explicit.  The variations tail off without resolution, and the Scherzo is basically the fourth variation.  Brahms thus obscures the boundaries between the movements.  Only with the arrival of the trio section, which is completely unrelated to the variations, is the division clear.  The finale has a curious slow introduction and an even stranger (and similar) coda.  The passionate themes of the main portion are highly “Schumannesque, and therefore quite derivative.  The movement, while the biggest, is also the weakest.  This sonata is generally regarded as the least impressive of the three, but no other work of the composer reveals a closer connection to his early-romantic predecessors, especially Schumann, and the middle movements are very fine.  Some commentators have described it as his most “un-Brahmsian” work of all, and therein lies much of its interest.

ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut Lübeck)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (Later Simrock Edition from Brahms's time)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (From Breitkopf & Härtel Sämtliche Werke)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (From Breitkopf & Härtel Sämtliche Werke, with handwritten measure numbers)

1st Movement: Allegro non troppo ma energico (Sonata-Allegro form).  F-SHARP MINOR, 3/4 time.
0:00 [m. 1]--Theme 1.  In the passionate, almost violent opening, a full rolled chord is followed by an angular gesture in octaves from both hands.  This pattern, with another rolled chord, is stated again a sixth lower. The music then becomes suddenly quiet, and rumbling tremolo figures begin in the bass on the “dominant” chord.  Against this, the right hand plays four-note gestures with repeated notes in the middle.  These expand outward, then upward, building powerfully toward a huge chromatic scale that descends in octaves.  The scale slows and is broken by three successively wider leaps to the same upper note.
0:19 [m. 9]--The first rolled chord and angular octaves are restated.  The angular gesture is then expanded.  It is harmonized by two sixths, then completely by thirds in both hands.  The last three notes are then stated twice more in a short-short-long pattern.  The last of these merges into a triplet rhythm, where these three notes (thirds) are again given twice more before they break upward and descend in a slower, heavy arpeggio, all harmonized in thirds.  The last thirds are broken by rests in a stepwise descent to a long pause that includes the anticipatory “leading” note.
0:38 [m. 16]--Transition passage.  It is built on a mysterious and ominous rising figure in the bass that includes a long-short triplet rhythm on the last beat of each bar.  The figure is passed three times from the low bass to full chords in the right hand, played in the middle range of the piano.  The bass figure begins to move upward and be doubled an octave below.  The next three bass statements are punctuated by  quiet outbursts of the angular gesture (now given steady, close harmonies below) from Theme 1.
1:03 [m. 28]--Rather than alternating with the angular gestures, the rising figure in the bass now underpins them.  Both are now given without octave doubling.  A motion to the “dominant” key of C-sharp is almost complete.  After two angular gestures, the right hand reaches upward, then meanders down and back up in arpeggios.  This happens over six rising bass figures (the last two of which omit the upward turn).  Both hands slow down.  The right hand plays two low isolated four-note descents against a rising short-long motion in the low bass.  Two isolated bass notes followed by rests prepare for the stormy entry of Theme 2.
1:26 [m. 40]--Theme 2.  The left hand starts by playing angular triplets in octaves.  The right hand responds by making an attempt at a passionate, arching melody, also in triplet octaves, underpinned by a pulsating left hand.  It then joins the angular left hand in repeated chords.  This happens three times, with the repeated chords interrupting the right hand’s attempts at beginning a true melody.  The chords and bass octaves always recede to a quiet level, then build rapidly as the melody tries to assert itself (C-sharp minor).
1:45 [m. 51]--The passionate melody finally emerges, and when it does it quickly quiets down.  As hinted, the right hand plays it in octaves, sometimes filled with harmonies, while the left hand plays pulsating chords punctuated by bass octaves.  Both hands are in triplet rhythm (implied 9/8 time).  Most significantly, the melody does not arrive in C-sharp minor, but in its relative major key of E.  There are many chromatic notes and dissonances, so it is not an untroubled major.
1:56 [m. 58]--A second statement of the passionate melody begins, but now it is more agitated, an effect brought about by the inclusion of upper neighboring notes that interrupt the left-hand pulsations.  The second gesture shifts to E minor.  After the first two gestures, there is a sudden and striking harmonic detour to an unexpected and remote C major.  Despite this shift, the chromatic and dissonant notes persist, and the melody begins to include fuller harmonies and to powerfully build in intensity.  The climax jumps an octave and slows down, and completes a motion back to C-sharp minor.
2:14 [m. 69]--At the climax, the right hand erupts into the repeated chords heard at the beginning of Theme 2, and the left hand returns to the angular octaves.  Triplet rhythm is still in force.  Then both hands break into two short ascents in octaves.  A third ascent (in isolated straight rhythm!) arches back down over pulsating left hand chords.   A pause is followed by a strong cadence in C-sharp minor.  Two powerful cadence gestures with heavy syncopation lead to a downward plunge in full chords from both hands to a low C-sharp octave.
2:31 [m. 80]--Three descending bass octaves, leading down from the C-sharp, create a transition to the development section.
2:36 [m. 83]--The development begins by working with the main figure of Theme 1 (the music here moves back to straight rhythm).  Loud rolled chords and initial gestures then subside in second gestures of the main figure.  These “second” gestures move to minor.  There are three of these patterns, first in D, then A, then B major and minor.  The left hand plays broken fifths and sixths under the detached right hand notes on the main figure.  After the statement in B, three quiet arpeggios lead to A major (relative key to F-sharp minor).
2:51 [m. 92]--Theme 2 is now given extensive development in A major.  The left hand plays its angular triplet patterns, but they are not in octaves.  The passage is rather quiet and gently expressive.  The material of the right hand is the passionate melody.
3:05 [m. 100]--The material from Theme 2 begins anew, now at a lower level and with a two-voice imitative counterpoint.  The opening gesture of the passionate melody begins to be isolated, and the music begins to steadily build.  Rising arpeggios become more prominent.  The harmony moves toward C-sharp minor through the use of such colorful harmonies as “diminished” chords.
3:19 [m. 108]--Four interjections of the main figure suddenly erupt, initially vacillating between A major and C-sharp minor (both are keys closely related to the home key of F-sharp minor).  Then, in the last two interjections, C-sharp is more firmly established.
3:26 [m. 112]--Re-transition.  Returning to the quiet level, the Theme 2 material again begins, as if trying to hold off the main figure as long as possible.  The C-sharp reveals itself to be the preparatory “dominant” chord of the home key, F-sharp (here implied to be F-sharp major).  High syncopated chords in the right hand begin to interrupt the Theme 2 material.  These build powerfully, leading to a dramatically plunging arpeggio in octaves split between the hands.  The right hand then turns this around, speeding up and suddenly breaking off.
3:42 [m. 123]--Theme 1.  Its initial statement is altered in significant ways.  After the rapid right-hand ascent, the first chord, instead of being an F-sharp minor chord, is a dissonant “diminished seventh.”  The angular gestures are altered with chromatic notes, and the second rolled chord is omitted.  The following rumbling tremolo in the bass and the four-note figures in the right-hand are also altered with chromatic notes, and are much more dissonant.  Only with the descending chromatic scale in octaves is order restored.
4:00 [m. 131]--Instead of being harmonized, as in the exposition, this statement of the main gesture is given in near-imitation between the hands, the left hand following and beginning a step higher (with octave displacement) than the right.  A slight shift brings the left hand back to the same pitch level as the right (but at a lower octave) in the imitation.  The right-hand octaves begin to be harmonized at this point, but not the left-hand octaves. 
4:06 [m. 134]--Suddenly, the short-short-long patterns from 0:19 [m. 9] emerge, with new octave doubling.  The hands come together on the triplet rhythm and plunging descent.  The three isolated harmonies are as in the exposition, but the right hand is two octaves higher.  They are now repeated two octaves lower (one octave in the left hand, which is now very low) before the pause.  These are slightly softer.  The long transition from the exposition is omitted.
4:26 [m. 144]--Theme 2 begins immediately, without a transition, in the home key of F-sharp minor.  It is given as in the exposition at 1:26 [m. 40].
4:44 [m. 155]--The passionate melody emerges, as at 1:45 [m. 51].  It is now in the analogous A major.
4:57 [m. 162]--The passage from 1:56 [m. 58] is presented, with its associated buildup and agitation.  There are, however, some major alterations.  The right hand is played at a lower level than in the exposition.  The pulsations previously in the left hand are played by the right hand, which intersperses them with its octaves.   The new left hand accompaniment is none other than the “ominous” bass rising figure from the transition passage that was omitted in the recapitulation, thus making the recapitulation more “complete.”  The right hand moves to the level of the exposition at the harmonic detour, now to F major.  At the slowing climax, intensified from the exposition, the “ominous” figure stops and the pulsations move to the low bass.
5:15 [m. 173]--The climax emerges, and at first follows the pattern of 2:14 [m. 69], but the first four bars with the repeated chords and the short ascents are repeated a third higher.
5:24 [m. 179]--A large extension is inserted into the closing material to ratchet up the intensity.  This extension, although it is inserted in the middle rather than at the end of the closing material, functions as a coda.  It is extremely powerful.  Remaining in the triplet rhythm, the right hand plays bell-like chords that alternate with single lower notes.  The left hand plays the established angular patterns.  Then both hands join in unison octaves (two octaves apart), playing three series of gradually descending angular gestures derived from Theme 1.  The three series of gestures are separated by two “deceptive” cadences.
5:40 [m. 191]--Following the insertion, the closing material from 2:14 [m. 69] resumes with the heavily syncopated cadence gestures.  The insertion has essentially replaced the brief straight rhythm, descent, and pause before the strong cadence (which is the point of resumption here).  After the analogous downward plunge to the low octave (now F-sharp), the movement closes with two sharp chords, then two more final chords, which are suddenly and unexpectedly quiet.  They are very low, and played with the soft pedal.
6:00--END OF MOVEMENT [198 mm.]

2nd Movement: Andante con espressione (Small Theme and Variations).  B MINOR, 2/4 time, with two 2/8 bars.
0:00 [m. 1]--THEME.  Part 1.  Like the corresponding movement of Op. 1, it is based on an old German folk song, but the melody is Brahms’s own.  It is built upon a call-and-response structure.  A bare melody in the left hand is given responses in thirds from the right hand.  These responses move in contrary motion to the continuing left-hand motion.  After two of these calls and responses, there are shorter two-note alternations in which the responses (still mostly in thirds) sound almost like echoes.  There is then a closing left hand phrase with some decoration and lighter off-beat responses from the right hand, still in thirds.
0:26 [m. 9]--Part 2.  It begins with two more call-and-response sequences, but they are more harmonically adventurous, moving to D major and G minor.  The rest of the phrase has a more melodic and decorative left hand with more steady full chord responses in the right hand.  This passage seems to shift first to E-flat major and then back to D, building from the hushed level.  At the top, in a two-bar extension, the left-hand melody descends, and there is a deft harmonic motion back to B minor, but the theme ends on a dissonant half-cadence.  The dissonance comes from an extra note that makes the last chord a so-called “ninth” chord.
1:00 [m. 19]--VARIATION 1.  Part 1.  A middle voice is added to the original structure.  In it, off-beat repeated notes follow each note of both call and response and stay steady on the note G.  The bare left hand calls are given a lower octave, and the right hand responses in thirds are moved up an octave.  At the two-note alternations, both hands are given new harmony.  The left hand actually leaps up to play responses at the original level, and the right provides upper harmony.  Finally, at the closing phrase, also given new harmony, the off-beat repeated notes slide up to the keynote B, isolated and expanded to octaves.
1:21 [m. 27]--Part 2.  Again, besides the addition of the off-beat notes, which are now more active, the structure and character of the variation are changed little.  Again, the left hand melody is mostly in octaves with some added harmonies, and the right hand responses are an octave higher above the off-beat notes.  The right hand chords in the second half of the phrase now move to after the beat and take over for the added middle voice.  The same buildup and dissonant half cadence follow with the off-beat chords.
1:54 [m. 37]--VARIATION 2.  Part 1.  The call-and-response gestures are now altered and placed against a faster countermelody.  Both the “call” and the response are in the left hand, with the right hand playing the countermelody.  Against the response, the countermelody is very high and syncopated.  Brahms uses three-staff notation effectively here.  The calls, but not the responses, suggest new harmonic directions, with the faster countermelody played near the original B-minor pitches and the lower call itself hinting at D. 
2:07 [m. 41]--The two-note responses are greatly altered, each preceded by a strong syncopated figure, with the echo effect compressed to one beat at a higher pitch level.  F major and D minor are strongly suggested.  The closing phrase begins strongly and restores B minor with rolled chords, but it dissipates into a quiet descending arpeggio in octaves that begins with skipping syncopation.  The descent extends Part 1 by a bar.
2:22 [m. 46]--Part 2.  The pattern of Part 1, with three-staff notation, continues.  The same motions to D major and G minor are preserved, but they are much stronger.  The “calls” completely surrender to the faster melody, while the “responses” try to hold on a bit longer.  The second response rises to a grand and rather sudden climax.  The second half of the phrase continues the climax, still written on three staves, with rolled chords.  The motion to E-flat major is now very strong.  Imitation is introduced.  The motion to D major is delayed until the two-bar extension, but is also very strong, with powerfully descending right hand chords over the original melodic figures from the theme.  Two-staff notation returns in these last two bars.
2:50 [m. 56]--Variation 2 is extended in a powerful interlude.  The motion back to B minor and the half-cadence on the ninth chord are avoided.  Grand syncopated chords in D major alternate with the original melody in D minor  The syncopated chords become dissonant, and are isolated in two short, disorienting interjections notated as 2/8 bars.  The left hand then begins a strong descent based on the original melody, still in D minor, with the right hand playing syncopated broken octaves in triplet rhythm.  Both hands slow down with longer notation, including long full-measure triplets in the left hand.  The left hand arpeggios transform the dissonant syncopated chords into a “dominant” harmony leading to F-sharp major.
3:19 [m. 66]--A change at the end of the left-hand arpeggio helps the expected F-sharp pivot instead back home to B minor.  The syncopated chords enter again.  Brahms notates the tempo as “Largo.”  There are three statements of the syncopated chords punctuated with low bass octaves on F-sharp.  These rapidly diminish in volume.  The third of these lands on F-sharp major, but because B minor has been heard, F-sharp now functions as its preparatory “dominant” harmony, where it is suspended on a long pause.
3:41 [m. 68]--VARIATION 3.  Part 1.  Brahms returns to the main tempo and shifts to B major for a lush transformation of the theme (a similar process to that used in Variation 3 of Opus 1’s slow movement).  The variation is also marked “con molt’agitazione” and “sempre molto sostenuto.”  The “agitation” comes from the rapid shifts between soft and loud.  The “calls” are in the low range, with bass octaves on the original theme, and soft, while the “responses” are suddenly louder and higher, without the low bass octaves.  Both have a triplet rhythm on the first beat followed by three two-note descents.  There are biting chromatic notes borrowed from the minor key.
3:53 [m. 72]--The two-note responses are transformed, with the original pattern only heard in the low bass of the “call.”  Against this, the right hand continues the pattern heard at the beginning of the variation, with a triplet rhythm followed by a two-note descent.  The responses are again louder and higher.  The final phrase suddenly erupts into joyous full triplet rhythm with syncopation and rolled chords, but it trails off in a descending arpeggio on a B-major chord.
4:04 [m. 76]--Part 2.  The soft-loud pattern of Part 1 continues.  The harmonic motion of these calls and responses is now to D-sharp minor and G-sharp minor, more easily reached from B major.  The second half of the phrase makes strong reference to the original, but continues the soft-loud alternation with triplet rhythms, especially noticeable in the new “responses.”  The “calls” are quiet, but agitated, with fast arpeggios and repeated chords.  Motion is to A major, then back to the “dominant” chord of the home key.  At this high point on the last two bars, the joyous climax heard at the end of Part 1 returns, but the triplets are abandoned in favor of an even faster straight rhythm, still with syncopation and rolled chords.
4:30 [m. 85]--The last bar, as in Part 1 of the variation, trails off in a descending arpeggio, but in the fast straight rhythm instead of the triplets.  The arpeggio itself is different from that at the end of Part 1.  Instead of trailing off on the stable home chord, the chord is the unstable “dominant.”  On the last beat, the arpeggio slows to a triplet.  This is the end of the “variation,” left achingly unresolved.  Two transitional bars are tacked on, using a slow stepwise descent in the low bass to shift back to B minor.  Brahms directs that the scherzo movement (which can be seen as “Variation 4”) should follow immediately after a brief pause.
4:42--END OF MOVEMENT [87 mm.]

3rd Movement: Scherzo - Allegro; Trio - Poco più moderato (Scherzo with Trio; also continuation of Variations).  B MINOR, 6/8 time.
0:00 [m. 1]--Part 1.  It is quite obviously related to the theme of the preceding variations, and the entire scherzo section can be seen as “Variation 4.”  The opening call-and-response is simply transferred to the 6/8 meter.  The calls are played in octaves, the responses in much higher harmonies.  They are fast, but light and secretive.  The second half of the first scherzo strain transforms the descents and closing phrase, erupting into a powerful, thumping rhythm with increasing harmony and pitch.  It reaches a full cadence.
0:10 [m. 1]--Part 1 repeated.
0:21 [m. 9]--Part 2.  The opening calls and responses correspond with Part 2 of the variation theme, including pitches and harmonies.  Again, they are light and secretive.  The remaining bars replace the melodic section with a similar powerful, thumping rhythm to that heard in Part 1, but the motion to E-flat from the variations is preserved.  After a cadence, a softer echo an octave lower completes the original ten-bar structure.  It is extended, however, by one last echo that is even softer and another octave lower.  The cadence is stretched out by one bar with pauses and a cross-rhythm, so Part 2 has thirteen total bars.  It is not repeated. 
TRIO (D Major) - Poco più moderato
0:38 [m. 22]--Part 1.  The Trio is much longer than the Scherzo, which is unusual.  It begins with a soaring three-chord upbeat, then breaks into soft bell-like harmonies in both hands.  These include dotted (long-short) rhythms, which are also used in leaping, off-beat bass responses.  There are three statements of the bell-like material.  The second is in A minor, the third in G minor.  The G-minor statement is extended, builds greatly, and moves not to D major, but to D minor, where it recedes and reaches a half-cadence.
1:04 [m. 22 (m. 36, first ending)]--Part 1 repeated.
1:32 [m. 36, second ending]--Part 2.  The bell material continues with statements in E minor and F-sharp minor, working upward.  It slowly builds again.  An extension again moves back to D minor (not major).  This stalls on the preparatory “dominant” chord (which can also be used in the major key), and starts to build more strongly.  Finally, three of the leaping bass responses are isolated.  They are octaves on the “dominant” note, A.
1:55 [m. 48]--D major returns in a glorious manner for an amplified statement of the material from Part 1.  The chords are more full, and they reach to higher octaves.  Brahms marks full volume here and grandioso.  The pattern follows Part 1 through the statements in A minor and G minor.  The extension, however, is new, and moves emphatically to D major, not minor, with exuberant leaps.  There is a quiet echo of the climax, and then one last bar of loud bell sounds.  These recede, isolating chords and bass responses.
2:23 [m. 63]--Transition back to Scherzo.  Fragments of the bell theme in the right hand alternate with hints of the Scherzo in the low bass.  Dissonant blocked half-steps are heard in the right hand as the widely leaping scherzo figures continue in the left.  The speed increases, and Brahms implies 3/4 grouping in two bars of half-steps and leaping figures.  Finally, a descending scale harmonized in sixths, still with the leaping scherzo figures in the bass, moves strongly back to B minor and directly into the Scherzo.
2:39 [m. 73] --Part 1.  It is played literally as before except for the last bar, where the first two chords are suddenly given one more beat of space between them, creating a cross-rhythm and avoiding the full cadence.
2:50 [m. 81]--Part 1, varied repeat.  Introducing new material into the reprise, Brahms has the right hand play a ringing measured trill while the left hand takes all of the previous scherzo material.  In the “thumping” rhythm during the second half, the right hand plays harmonies below the trill and eventually moves the pitches of the trill itself downward, participating in the melodic presentation.  In contrast to the first statement, this varied repeat is played at a full volume.
2:59 [m. 89]--Part 2, variation.  For the statement of Part 2, the ringing trill continues.  It follows a similar pattern to that of the Part 1 repetition, even moving the trill downward at the analogous point.  The harmony follows that of Part 2 from the first presentation before the Trio.  The first “echo” is somewhat varied and remains at full volume.  Where the second, lower echo would be expected, the trill is instead isolated, accelerating until it is no longer measured, and everything becomes slower (on a global level, not in the trill) and quieter.  The three-bar ending is preserved here, so Part 2 retains its thirteen total bars.
3:15 [m. 101]--Halfway through the last bar of part 2, there is a sudden transformation to major, and the Trio theme is heard in a reminiscence under the continuing trill.  After three bars, an echo moves above the trill as the music shifts back to minor, the volume becomes ever quieter, and the tempo becomes ever slower.
3:27 [m. 106]--The final flourish is in the original fast tempo and at full volume.  It begins with groups of rising octaves in the left hand.  The trill continues until the very last descending scale fragment in octaves, where the right hand joins two octaves above the left.
3:41--END OF MOVEMENT [109 mm.]

4th Movement: Finale - Introduzione: Sostenuto; Allegro non troppo e rubato (Sonata-Allegro form with introduction).  F-SHARP MINOR, 4/4 time.
0:00 [m. 1]--The stark octaves of the opening slowly wind their way down.  This detached octave line is an anticipation of the main theme (Theme 1) of the movement.  The figure is stated twice, the second time in a hushed manner and an octave lower.  The octaves suggest A major, the “relative” major to F-sharp minor.
0:20 [m. 5]--Three successive rising figures (a fourth and two thirds) are heard in the right hand.  They are played over a bass pedal on E (the “dominant” note of A major).  Finally, a fourth, larger leap (a seventh) collapses into a trill that gradually speeds up.  The harmony under this trill, including a bass arpeggio, veers toward E major.  The subsequent unmeasured, quiet flourish is simply an arching, sweeping E-major scale.
0:40 [m. 9]--The anticipatory octave line is played again, this time a step lower, on G major.  Again, the second statement is more hushed and an octave lower than the first.
0:57 [m. 13]--The rising figures with bass pedal, the subsequent accelerating trill, and the beginning of the flourish begin as at 0:20 [m. 5], but a step lower.  The trill and flourish move to D major, as would be expected.  At the top of the rising scale beginning the flourish, however, the descent is broken into a tinkling arpeggio that includes some rising notes.  Unlike the scale in the first flourish, these arpeggios are strictly measured.  They are light, and include the note G-sharp, a memory of the A-major opening.
1:19 [m. 18]--Two expressive gestures with the “rising figures” are now heard.  The first moves from D minor to E minor.  The second is identical, but a third lower, moving from B minor to C-sharp minor.
1:36 [m. 22]--Another trill moves into a heavy descent that is in triplet rhythm, but independent of the larger meter in the bar.  This finally moves to the home key of F-sharp minor.  A rapid upward arpeggio follows.  Then nine repeated iterations of an octave D in the right hand (the third through eighth of them in triplet rhythm) are played over a bass arpeggio.  Finally, the music reaches a pause on the “dominant” chord in F-sharp minor.
2:00 [m. 25] --Theme 1.  It begins with the same gesture as the introduction, in the home key of F-sharp minor.  It is passionate, but subdued, played over a rocking bass with repeated lower notes (pedal notes).  There is a biting half-step dissonance on the second bar of the melody.  The second phrase begins a step higher and is rounded off with a trill and cadence.
2:14 [m. 33]--A third phrase begins even higher and briefly moves to B minor.  The fourth phrase ratchets it up to C-sharp, the “dominant.”  This phrase intensifies and is extended, breaking into a descending arpeggio at a small internal climax.  Repeated two-note descents lead to the next statement of the theme.
2:29 [m. 44]--Theme 1 begins again in F-sharp minor.  The first phrase is heard in its entirety, but instead of moving to the second phrase, the music again intensifies with two sequential repetitions upward of the rising line at the end of the first phrase.  This then breaks into climactic arpeggios with sharply punctuated chords.  The second arpeggio arches down and back up in triplet rhythm (groups of 6), the hands moving in opposite directions. A decorated scale descent in octaves moves from dotted rhythm to triplet rhythm.  Two final chords after the scale bring Theme 1 to a full close in F-sharp minor.
2:51 [m. 61]--Transition.  The left hand plays the opening figure from Theme 1 at twice the speed (shorter notes) in octaves, moving steadily downward.  It is very detached and heavily marked.  The right hand joins after two bars, and the Theme 1 figures are played in counterpoint.  The right hand includes some treacherous jumps and full chords.  When the music has moved to the new key of A minor, the left hand settles onto low chords that include syncopation held over the bar line.
3:04 [m. 71]--Theme 2.  It is a romantic, yearning melody with decorative grace notes, wide octave leaps, and many short pauses.  The left hand plays a steady accompaniment with a low bass note at the beginning of each beat and many wide leaps.  The theme begins at a moderate level, but it reaches a series of two-note descents that diminish greatly until these descents are separated by pauses at a much quieter level.  A final octave leap rounds off this first statement of Theme 2 on a half-cadence (A minor).
3:16 [m. 80]--Theme 2 begins again, this time over fragments of Theme 1 in the left hand.  It begins in right-hand octaves, but then it intensifies, including more chromatic notes in both the Theme 2 material and in the Theme 1 fragments in the left hand, which are heavily accented.  The passage moves to B-flat (major and minor).  Suddenly, this material is cut off, and a series of soaring arpeggios begins, first in the left hand, then in both hands.  These are in triplet rhythm, with the second note of each group replaced by a rest.  The right hand alternates between playing with the left hand in octaves and playing sharp, detached chords.  After beginning quietly, this passage builds dramatically and moves emphatically from B-flat back to A.
3:36 [m. 95]--Closing material.  The cadence on A arrives on a major chord, but the darkness of minor still tinges the music.  The cadence leads a series of long, slow-moving chords played over hammering repeated off-beat octaves in the left hand.  After two statements of the chords and repeated octaves, the music suddenly holds back.
3:42 [m. 99]--Transition to Exposition Repeat:  After another strong arrival on an A-major chord, two plagal cadences onto the chord are heard (with the keynote remaining on the top and bottom of all chords).  These cadences are heard over a faster four-note chromatic (half-step) descent in the middle range.  The second descent is an octave lower. At the second cadence, the A-major chord is repeated, with a resonant left-hand roll, three times to confirm the arrival.  Then the bass descends down to F-sharp, and the outer A’s slide up a half-step, creating the “dominant” chord in B minor or major, which is also repeated three times with left-hand rolls.  The whole passage rapidly diminishes from full power to quiet anticipation.
4:00 [m. 111, first ending (corresponding to m. 25)]--Theme 1, as at 2:00.  The opening is different.  The upbeat approaches from below rather than from above, and the first measure is played over B-minor harmony instead of the “dominant” harmony on C-sharp heard the first time.  The second bar (m. 112, first ending) also has a subtle difference, as the biting half-step dissonance is held over from the previous bar (a result of the new harmony in that bar).  The repeat sign goes back to the third bar of the exposition (m. 27).
4:14 [m. 33]--Third and fourth phrases with intensification and extension, as at 2:14.
4:29 [m. 44]--New statement of Theme 1 with climactic arpeggios, octave scales, and full close, as at 2:29.
4:51 [m. 61]--Transition based on Theme 1, as at 2:51.
5:04 [m. 71]--Theme 2, as at 3:04.
5:16 [m. 80]--Theme 2 over fragments of Theme 1, motion to B-flat, and soaring arpeggios, as at 3:16.
5:36 [m. 95]--Closing material with A-major chord and hammering left-hand octaves, as at 3:36.
5:41 [m. 99]--Transition to Development.  Long chords and chromatic descents, as at 3:42.  As before the exposition repeat, it ends on the “dominant” chord of B (with bass on F-sharp).
5:58 [m. 111, second ending]--The upbeat that had led into the exposition repeat is replaced by a loud reiteration of the last chords an octave higher.  This then moves directly to a B-major chord on the downbeat.  There, the entire pattern from the closing material and the transition is repeated one pitch level higher.  This closes with three reiterations of the B-major chord, a descending bass, and then three reiterations on the “dominant” chord in C-sharp, following the pattern of 3:36/5:36 [m. 95] and 3:42/5:41 [m. 99].
6:19 [m. 126]--The long chords and descending bass notes are extended from the pattern at the end of the exposition.  Here, a descending bass leads to a chord on C-sharp (inverted, with bass on E-sharp), as would be expected following the previous chords leading there, but this chord is also a “dominant” chord, suggesting further motion to F-sharp.  It is also reiterated three times, and completely rolled.  The volume becomes even softer.  Another descending bass note moves to yet another “dominant” chord with a bass on E.  This chord, however, is a so-called “augmented sixth” chord and begins the motion to the ultimate goal, which will be G-sharp minor.  Again, it is rolled and reiterated three times at a very quiet level.
6:31 [m. 134]--The bass descends again, to D-sharp.  The following four chords break the threefold reiterations and are only played once before the bass descends.  All of these chords remain anchored to D-sharp, suggesting a pull to G-sharp minor.  The descending bass notes, of which there are also four more (one following the last chord) make it down to A-sharp.  All of the chords are completely rolled, and this entire sequence of chords builds in volume from the softest point at the beginning.
6:45 [m. 143]--Brahms marks a rather sudden “Animato” here.  The bass moves up an octave, and the music erupts into a series of highly agitated, mildly syncopated chords that first seem to overshoot, then finally confirm the emphatic arrival on G-sharp minor.  These chords maintain their rhythmic pattern and include three series of treacherous leaps up and down before settling on the “confirmation” chords.
6:55 [m. 152]--Theme 1 is presented beginning in G-sharp minor.  This version continues the agitated mood of the previous chords.  The melody is played in full harmony with feverish off-beat chords, some of which are repeated in groups of three.  The second phrase has an active harmony, suggesting motion to C-sharp.
7:02 [m. 158]--The volume is suddenly quiet, and the rising line from the theme is isolated in a highly active sequence.  This line moves up and arches back down twice, first on C-sharp, then on D-sharp, again building in intensity.  Against this, the bass twice outlines the opening figure from the theme.  Then the rising line becomes even more active, building feverishly and arriving unambiguously on A-flat major in a cascading arpeggio with punctuating chords and octaves in the left hand.  These are in the same rhythm that was used at 6:45 [m. 143]. (Note that A-flat and G-sharp are the same note, so a key “center” is clear in the larger section beginning from 6:45 [m. 143].)
7:17 [m. 170]--Theme 2 now makes its first appearance in the development section.  It is played by the left hand in a jaunty, decorated major-key version in A-flat.  Against this, the right hand has running, detached scales, then light chords as the left-hand theme moves to the two-note descents.  These descents move to the minor key, and the theme gradually tapers down to a quiet level.
7:27 [m. 179]--A descending arpeggio merges into the opening of Theme 2 in the right hand.  It begins in A-flat minor with the running scale in the left hand, but then it quickly veers away, reiterating the distinctive fragment with the grace note.  This active passage reaches a climax on a descending scale in octaves that marks the return of the home key, although it is notated as G-flat minor rather than F-sharp minor.
7:38 [m. 187]--Re-transition.  The opening figure of Theme 1 returns in a very heavy manner, first in bass octaves and then, with harmonization, in the right hand.  As this music builds, it breaks into a slow triplet rhythm with octaves passed increasingly between the hands until they alternate on every octave.  They come to rest on a low C-sharp (the “dominant” note) and everything suddenly stands still.
7:54 [m. 197]--Brahms indicates “poco sostenuto” here, and indeed the music is highly reminiscent of the “rising figures” from the introduction.  They are played over a sustained “pedal” note on a low C-sharp.  The figures are passed from the left to the right hand, the latter playing in octaves, and they steadily slow down even more in anticipation of the return.
8:06 [m. 204] --Theme 1 emerges seamlessly., with the opening note held over from the final long, slow note of the development section.  It has subtle variations in the harmony and accompaniment from the outset, but the most striking variation is in the second phrase, where Brahms seems to want to shift everything up a half-step, but then quickly moves back home at the trill and cadence, which is extended a bar with broken arpeggios.
8:22 [m. 214]--The third and fourth phrases are presented essentially as they were at 2:14 and 4:14 [m. 33], but instead of moving to two-note descents in preparation for a new statement of the theme, the descending arpeggio is extended downward and breaks off with a low octave on the harmony of the “dominant” chord.  The restatement and the transition are completely omitted.
8:36 [m. 225]--Theme 2, now in the home key of F-sharp.  It begins with an almost jaunty variant in major, with a subtly varied contour that includes half-step ascents and descents.  At the point of the two-note descents, it has moved back to minor and follows the pattern established at 3:04 and 5:04 [m. 71].
8:49 [m. 234]--Theme 2 played over fragments of Theme 1, as at 3:16 and 5:16 [m. 80].  The internal harmonic motion is to G minor and major.  Then follow the soaring octaves in triplet rhythm with the second note replaced by a rest, as before.
9:08 [m. 249]--Closing material in F-sharp major, corresponding to 3:36 and 5:36 [m. 95].
9:14 [m. 253]--At the point of  the former transition, the intensification continues, and triplet rhythms are introduced.  Octaves, then faster figures, also in triplet rhythm, are passed between the hands.    The harmony moves away from F-sharp. 
9:21 [m. 258]--The music is now in G minor/major, and a huge statement of the initial gesture from Theme 1 in the bass is heard under the increasingly rapid and highly chromatic motion.  Brahms uses three-staff notation here, with the left hand jumping from the Theme 1 gesture in the bass up to higher harmonies accompanying the continuing fast triplets.  The gesture from the theme is reiterated in a lower octave.  The music rapidly subsides and slows down as the triplets decrease in volume and run out of energy, with left-hand rolled chords giving way to detached two-note harmonies.  The key is an unambiguous G major.
CODA - Molto sostenuto
9:44 [m. 268]--The tempo and character of the introduction return, but the key shifts to F-sharp major.  Four octaves make the half-step harmonic motion back to F-sharp from G.
9:52 [m. 270]--The familiar “rising gestures” from the introduction are heard.  This time, they are played over a suggestion of  Theme 1 in the bass rather than a pedal point.
10:03 [m. 272]--A series of three accelerating trills accompanied by wide left-hand arpeggios and internal rising gestures is followed by two more extremely quiet trills that lead into arching, sweeping unmeasured flourishes.  These confirm F-sharp major after the last two trills had briefly moved to B and E major.
10:29 [m. 277]--Another trill leads into a final, very quiet flourish  This consists of rising chromatic scales with leaps down from initial notes.  The notation and rhythmic grouping suggests that m. 277 should actually be broken into two bars, but Brahms notates it as one, presumably to preserve the continuity and flow of this rising flourish.  When m. 278 does arrive, it is a measured bar.  Rolled chords punctuate the four beats, the first three of which are a continuous downward F-sharp major scale punctuated by more trills.  The last beat continues the scale, but it is longer, faster, and less measured.
10:46 [m. 279]--The bottom F-sharp of the scale, which is still hushed and secretive, is followed by two suddenly loud, jarring rolled F-sharp major chords.  The second of these is wider, with a higher right hand and a lower left.  These two sudden rolled chords emphatically close this large-scale movement.  The slow coda has the effect of arresting, rather than fulfilling the movement’s progress.
11:13--END OF MOVEMENT [280 mm.]