VARIATIONS AND FUGUE ON A THEME OF G. F. HANDEL FOR PIANO, OP. 24
Recording: Martin Jones, pianist [NI 1788]

Published 1862.

With due respect to the F-minor piano sonata, this monumental work is the most important masterpiece of Brahms’s large-scale solo piano compositions (all of which were written and published before 1866).  Reaching beyond the composer’s own output, it stands firmly alongside Bach’s “Goldberg” Variations and Beethoven’s “Diabelli” Variations--three huge sets of keyboard variations by each of the “three B’s.”  The Brahms work does owe much to its predecessors, although it is slightly more modest than either, with 25 variations as opposed to Bach’s 30 or Beethoven’s 33.  The closing fugue is also based on an idea used by Beethoven.  The theme used is an Air from one of Handel’s harpsichord suites (Suite in B-flat major, HWV 434), to which Handel himself had attached five variations.  Brahms proceeds to filter the methods of Bach and Beethoven through his late romantic lens.  The theme’s simple structure and harmony allowed him much freedom, although he stuck firmly to the original’s structure (with one exception, Variation 15), key (again with one exception, Variation 21), and meter (replacing 4/4 with 12/8--the triple-division version of quadruple meter--in three instances).  Brahms also largely retains the pattern of “contrasting” and “returning” bars in the second parts of each variation.  He does engage in  a certain level of harmonic freedom, and in several instances writes varied repeats within individual variations.  Certain variations are quite singular, such as the siciliana in No. 19 or the “music box” effect in No. 22.  Others, such as the weighty minor-key “Hungarian” No. 13 and its sequel, the breathtaking No. 14, are clear points of demarcation.  Some variations are grouped in obvious pairs (Nos. 5-6, 7-8, 11-12, 15-16, 17-18, and 23-24) with some of these having the effect of “variations of variations.”  A highly successful adaptation of the baroque keyboard fugue to the modern piano and its capabilities, Brahms’s concluding fugue sticks to its four-voice texture for long stretches and then gloriously breaks free of it at the most effective points.  He manages all of this while adhering somewhat more closely (at least in character) to a Bach-like structural model than did Beethoven in his fugues for both the “Diabellis” and the “Hammerklavier” Sonata.  The final buildup over the massive “pedal point” bell tones provides an appropriately exciting conclusion, and it is apparent that something as large as the fugue was necessary to give the variations a capstone that did them justice.  Despite their great difficulty, the “Handel” Variations are never an overt display of virtuoso pianism such as that seen in the last solo piano variations, the “Paganini” sets of Op. 35.  Instead, they triumphantly show (as even Wagner noted) what can be done with old and strict forms in capable hands.

In keeping with the baroque model, Brahms avoids tempo headings throughout the score (although there are many markings of expression and character, most of which are noted).   Since all the variations except Variation 21 are in B-flat, only changes of mode from major to minor will be noted.  Only Variations 19, 23, and 24 are not in common time (4/4), and they are all in 12/8 time (the “compound” version of 4/4).

IMSLP WORK PAGE
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut Lübeck)

ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (First Edition [monochrome] from Russian State Library)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (From Breitkopf & Härtel Sämtliche Werke)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP of Handels Suite in B-flat major, HWV 434, the source of the variation theme (G. F. Händels Werke, edited by Friedrich Chrysander)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP of Handel's Suite in B-flat major, HWV 434 (from a later Russian source)


NOTE: In this recording, Variations 16-25 are on a new CD track/file.  The fugue, which also has its own track/file, will be treated as a (partially) separate unit with its own measure numbers.
0:00 [m. 1]--ARIA.  B-FLAT MAJOR, 4/4 time.  Part 1.  The theme is symmetrical and balanced.  The first part is decorated with trills on the second beat of each bar.  The left hand chords are subordinate to the florid right hand line.  The phrase reaches a half-cadence, punctuated by another trill.  A rapid scale flourish with an internal repeated note leads to the repetition.  There are no dynamic or tempo markings.
0:17 [m. 1]--Part 1 repeated.  The scale flourish leads to the second part.
0:31 [m. 5]--Part 2.  The first two bars are the “contrasting” material, but they retain the same basic rhythmic pattern as the rest of the theme.  The first bar of Part 2 is the only measure in the theme that does not contain a trill on the second beat.  The remaining two bars make a return to the material from the first two bars of Part 1.  They come to a full, closed cadence.  A downward-arching flourish that contains a trill helps move the harmony back to the “dominant” for the repeat.
0:46 [m. 5]--Part 2 repeated.  The flourish is replaced by a sweeping lead-in to Variation 1.
1:00 [m. 9]--VARIATION 1.  Part 1.  Brahms now indicates volume level with poco forte.   The variation is sturdy and rhythmic, with faster notes passed from the right hand on the strong parts of beats to the left hand on the weaker parts.  This pattern is only really broken on the last beats of each bar.  The leaping, jaunty left hand notes coincide with syncopated and accented right-hand chords.  A scale rapidly sweeps up and back down after the half-cadence to lead to the repetition.
1:15 [m. 9]--Part 1 repeated.  The sweeping scale is shortened by one note as it leads into Part 2.
1:28 [m. 13]--Part 2.  The basic pattern continues, but the “contrasting” bars contain a very close right-hand counterpoint that sounds like a series of chords.  It is interrupted by a rapid descending scale.  Again, the ending returns to the pattern used at the beginning, but is also broken by a descending scale.  Another variant of the sweeping scale (without its previously highest note) leads to the repetition.
1:42 [m. 13]--Part 2 repeated, coming to a solid, complete cadence.  There is no transition to Variation 2.
1:57 [m. 17]--VARIATION 2.  Part 1.  Although Brahms adds the marking animato, the variation is quieter than Variation 1, with gentle rising and falling.  One notable feature is the three-against-two rhythm, with the right hand triplets going against the straight rhythm in the left hand.  The left hand does include three triplets (two on the last beats of the first and third bars, one on the second beat of the second) in its upper voice.  Both hands are harmonized with a lower voice.    Both hands are extremely chromatic, with many half-steps and “color” notes from outside the scale of B-flat.
2:08 [m. 17]--Part 1 repeated.  The lead-in to Part 2 is essentially identical to the one before the repeat.
2:19 [m. 21]--Part 2.  The “contrasting” bars begin with a punctuating short trill and make a slight turn to minor.  In these bars, the left hand loses its second voice.  It is regained in the “returning” bars.  The left hand has no triplets in Part 2, and it has wider, more far-ranging leaps.  The music is still very chromatic, which is particularly seen in the left hand line in the “returning“ bars.  In the “returning” bars, the right hand continues up higher than expected, ending with a graceful downward turn that flows into the repetition.
2:29 [m. 21]--Part 2 repeated.  The “graceful” downward turn also serves to lead into Variation 3.
2:40 [m. 25]--VARIATION 3.  Part 1.  This variation, marked dolce, continues the gracefulness of the lead-in.  “Sighing” gestures are passed between the right and left hands.  These usually consist of an upbeat, then a motion from a single note to a chord, usually descending, but not always.  Some of the upbeats in the right hand are rolled chords.  The left hand leaps up from its upbeats to its “sighing” motions.
2:50 [m. 25]--Part 1 repeated.  The final upbeat now leads into Part 2.
3:00 [m. 29]--Part 2.  The pattern continues in the “contrasting” bars, although they are more chromatic, making another slight turn to minor.  It also continues as a bridge to the repeat without coming to a stop.
3:11 [m. 29]--Part 2 repeated.  This time, the final upward left-hand leap suddenly stops as the freely flowing, metrically ambiguous Variation 3 comes to a close.
3:24 [m. 33]--VARIATION 4.  Part 1.  In a great contrast to the preceding variation, this one comes in with force on an upbeat.  It is marked risoluto.  The right hand plays powerful octaves, many of them filled in with harmonies to make full chords.  The left hand plays more isolated, punctuating chords and octaves.  There are powerful accents on some (but not all) of the weakest upbeats, creating a strong sense of metrical displacement.  The right hand reaches quite high before a precipitous descent to the half-cadence.
3:36 [m. 33]--Part 1 repeated.
3:47 [m. 37]--Part 2.  Now the pattern changes a bit, with the right and left hands alternating on strong octave ascents on another minor turn.  Both hands come to brief pauses as they pass ascents between each other.  This breaks after one bar, after which the left hand takes the continuous octaves and the right hand plays leaping descents.  The powerful accents on weak upbeats continue, and they increase in frequency as the “returning“ bars approach, as well as during the final descent.  The last cadence is quite emphatic.
3:59 [m. 37]--Part 2 repeated.
4:14 [m. 41]--VARIATION 5.  B-FLAT MINOR.  Part 1.  The first minor-key variation is expressive and flowing.  It begins with an upbeat.  The left hand begins after the first downbeat.  A long-short-short figure begins to take over the rhythm.  Harmonies are strategically placed in the right hand.  The left hand has a faster-moving line that includes some syncopations at the tops of arpeggios.  The left hand rounds off the half-cadence with a wide upward arpeggio.
4:29 [m. 41]--Part 1 repeated.
4:44 [m. 45]--Part 2.  The “contrasting” bars are again more chromatic, which is quite striking in the minor key.  The opening is similar to that of Part 1, but the left hand is more disjointed and both hands reach much higher.  The first syncopation in the right hand happens at the approach to the “returning” bars, and it is quite effective.  The familiar syncopations in the left hand begin shortly thereafter.  The right hand has two more syncopations in the melody during the approach to the melancholy cadence, which remains in minor.
4:58 [m. 45]--Part 2 repeated.
5:14 [m. 49]--VARIATION 6.  B-FLAT MINOR.  Part 1.  This variation should be seen as forming a pair with Variation 5.  Ideally, there will be no break between them.  Variation 6 is a pure canon, with the left hand strictly imitating the right hand one beat later.  Both hands play in bare octaves.  The bottom note in the left hand is three octaves below the higher note in the right.  The material itself is clearly based on the opening gesture of Variation 5.  The octaves are smooth and quiet.  At the half-cadence ending Part 1, the canon does not break, and is completed by lengthening and reiterating the final octave in the right hand.
5:29 [m. 49]--Part 1 repeated.  The reiterated right hand octave becomes the upbeat of the repetition.
5:43 [m. 53]--Part 2.  Now the last note of the trailing left hand becomes the upbeat for the new canon in Part 2.  With the left hand now leading and the right hand following, Brahms throws in another twist and makes the “contrasting” bars of Part 2 a canon by inversion, where the trailing voice in the right hand turns the leading left-hand voice upside down.  Because of the opposite directions, the top note in the right hand is now four (rather than three) octaves above the bottom note of the left.  It reaches to quite a high level. 
5:50 [m. 55]--At the “returning” bars, the inversion ends.  The right hand rests for one beat.  The left hand notes that immediately precede this are not imitated, and are used so that the bass can slide down to the first note of m. 55, which begins another “normal” canon as heard in Part 1.  The right hand makes a large leap from the high last notes of the inversion canon to the first, much lower notes of this one.  This time, the canon is not completed.  The last three notes of the left hand and the last note of the right are independent of the imitation.  The last two notes (in both hands) even add full chords to the octaves at the final cadence.
5:58 [m. 53]--Part 2 repeated, beginning with the canon by inversion.
6:05 [m. 55]--The repetition continues with the final canon and harmonized cadence in the “returning” bars.
6:15 [m. 57]--VARIATION 7.  B-FLAT MAJOR.  Part 1.  In a sudden departure from the light melancholy mood of the previous two variations, this one rushes in with secretive haste.  Brahms marks it con vivacità.  It is extremely rhythmic (long-short-short), with three parallel voices.  The melodic interest is in the middle voice.  The top voice remains static, remaining on a single note (F twice, then A) for all but the last half-beat of the first three bars.  The last bar suddenly increases in volume, and the top voice works upward, only to plunge down in an arpeggio before the repeat.  The active bottom voice provides solid bass support.
6:24 [m. 57]--Part 1 repeated.
6:32 [m. 61]--Part 2.  In the “contrasting” bars, which are again quiet, the top voice only becomes slightly more active, moving halfway through the bar.  The final off-beats of these first two measures are given strong accents, stronger than was the case in Part 1.  The “returning” bars increase greatly in volume, and a fourth voice is added to the harmonies.  The voices, including the top voice, diverge apart after moving up together.  The top voices reach quite high, the bottom voice very low.  The climax is followed by another plunging arpeggio, with the bottom voice rocketing upward at the same time (as it also had done in Part 1).
6:41 [m. 61]--Part 2 repeated, running directly into Variation 8.
6:50 [m. 65]--VARIATION 8.  Part 1.  This louder variation follows directly upon Variation 7, with which it has similarities.  This time, the static voice is the bottom one, which thumps out the keynote B-flat on the long-short-short rhythm steadily until the half-cadence, where it briefly moves to F.  Above this, the right hand has two voices, the middle one in steady running notes and the top one in shorter two-note gestures broken by rests.  It joins the rapid running of the middle voice at the end of the second bar.  In the third and fourth bars, these right hand voices are reversed, so that the “running” notes are on the top of the texture.  The shorter gestures remain in the same range, so the “running” notes are now in a very high register.
6:58 [m. 65]--Part 1 repeated.
7:07 [m. 69]--Part 2.  In the “contrasting” bars, the steady “thumping” bass note is on F.  The “running” notes are again in the middle voice.  The top voice, with shorter gestures, remains in the same range.  This layout is maintained in the “returning” bars, but the “thumping” bass note moves back to the keynote B-flat (more a “tenor” than a bass note).  The contrasting bars are suddenly and unexpectedly soft, again turning briefly to minor (a turn notably avoided in Variation 7) while the “returning” bars are again intensified.
7:16 [m. 73]--Part 2, varied repeat.  In the first varied repeat of the work, the musical material is the same as in the first statement of Part 2, but the voicing is reversed.  In the “contrasting” bars, for the first time, the voice with the shorter gestures moves while the “running” notes remain where they were.  This places the shorter gestures below the “running” notes, as at the end of Part 1.  This time, however, the “running” notes are actually lower.  In the “returning” bars, the short gestures are placed back where they were in the first statement, and the “running” notes are moved above them in a high register--so the layout is the same, but the register is higher.  The varied repeat of Part 2 begins quietly and, unlike the first statement, remains soft and even becomes quieter at the very end, where the “running” notes have reached quite high indeed.  Even the “thumping” B-flat steadily moves up first one octave, then a second before rapidly plunging back down.
7:28 [m. 77]--VARIATION 9.  Part 1.  Variation 9 is based on the restatement of a simple idea at various pitch levels.  It is slower and heavier than variations 7-8, and marked poco sostenuto.    The idea is a downward half-step motion (a chromatic scale) in right-hand octaves that is decorated twice by triplets whose middle notes break the chromatic scale with leaps up a third.  The descent is heralded by a fanfare-like upbeat.  Against this, the left-hand octaves, anchored by a low note, move slowly up four scale steps, then more quickly down five half-steps.  This is all followed by a final quiet chord.  The first two bars state the pattern beginning on the keynote, B-flat, and end by rising a step to a dissonant “diminished” chord. 
7:36 [m. 79]--The third and fourth bars state the idea a third higher, starting on D, then end by sliding down to the expected half-cadence on F.  This time, all of the right-hand octaves except for those in the first triplet (and the leaping second note of the second triplet) are filled in with full chords.
7:45 [m. 77]--Part 1 repeated.  Restatement of the descending chromatic idea on B-flat.
7:53 [m. 79]--Restatement of the descending chromatic idea with full chords starting on D.
8:02 [m. 81]--Part 2.  Continuing the pattern, the first two bars (corresponding to the “contrasting” bars) begin up another third, on F.  The idea is given completely in octaves until the last chord, which is now approached from below by a leap and is a full cadence on F.  The leap is in a short-long (triplet) rhythm.  The left hand completes the cadence with downward-leaping octaves.  This pattern of approaching the last chord (which is still quiet) will be used throughout Part 2.
8:11 [m. 83]--As expected, the “returning” bars again begin the idea on B-flat, but the upward motion continues, and it is an octave higher than it was at the beginning of Part 1.  It is here also in octaves until the last chord, which of course leaps to a full cadence on B-flat.
8:20 [m. 85]--Part 2, varied repeat.  The repetition is varied in the most unexpected way.  The “contrasting” bars are shifted up wholesale by a half-step, and begin on F-sharp.  This is in the spirit of this variation, which presents the same idea at various pitch levels.  This statement of the “contrasting” bars also adds full chords on the first and third notes of the second triplet and on the notes leaping to the cadence on F-sharp.
8:29 [m. 87]--The “returning” bars are stated on the high B-flat, as in the first statement, but the left hand is varied.  Instead of sliding down by half-steps on its faster notes, the octaves continue to rise up, creating a full B-flat scale with two chromatic half-steps inserted.  The final cadence is surprisingly serene.
8:40 [m. 89]--VARIATION 10.  Part 1.  Beginning with a preliminary flourish, the variation is based on repeated notes in triplet rhythm that rapidly plunge down the keyboard.  In the first two bars, they traverse a great range.  The first four triplet groups are punctuated by rolled chords below them, and the first three triplet groups are themselves double notes.  The remaining three groups are low single notes with non-rolled chords above them.  Another flourish leads to the next two bars, which are generally a third (or a step) higher than the first two except for the final bass triplet, which reaches down low.  Each of the two descents begins loudly (energico), then diminishes rapidly during the plunge down the keyboard, ending very softly.  Also, each descent begins in major and has made a clear move to the home minor key at the bottom.
8:49 [m. 89]--Part 1 repeated.
8:57 [m. 93]--Part 2.  All of Part 2 is in B-flat minor.  The “contrasting” bars appear to begin another descent midway between the first two, with rolled chord punctuations.  However, the second bar remains loud and breaks into four alternating single-note triplets that dovetail between the hands and reverse the descent.  They are decorated by rising flourishes.  The “returning” bars also use these initial flourishes, and work from the bass upward, with single, double, and triple-note triplets before the top one, which is a full chord.  The last three triplets then diminish and descend.  They are in octaves punctuated by rolled chords, as in Part 1.  The final triplet octave group is thus low and soft, and the “returning” bars have created an arch with the climax on top.
9:05 [m. 93]--Part 2 repeated.
9:15 [m. 97]--VARIATION 11.  Part 1.  After the previous two forceful variations,  this one is serene and melodic (and completely in the major key).  The right hand plays a lovely, wide-ranging melody with many alternating leaps and some light lower-voice harmonization.  It begins with a descending arpeggio.  The second phrase starts a third higher, touching on D minor before reaching the half-cadence on F.  The left hand plays a standard Alberti bass, with high-low alternations as a method of breaking harmonies, although straight ascending arpeggios are heard at the end of each phrase.
9:26 [m. 97]--Part 1 repeated.
9:37 [m. 101]--Part 2.  In the “contrasting” bars, the Alberti accompaniment with the high-low alternations moves to the middle voice.  The melody, which now climbs upward, shares some notes with this accompaniment.  The left hand now has slower notes in patterns similar to the main melody of Part 1.  The music swells slightly here.  The “returning” bars are again quiet and serene.  In them, the Alberti figures manage to climb to the top of the texture and alternate with the bass line.  The entire structure moves back down from this top level as the cadence is approached.  A left hand arpeggio bridges to the repeat.
9:49 [m. 101]--Part 2 repeated.  The bridging arpeggio is shifted to a lower level leading into Variation 12.
10:01 [m. 105]--VARIATION 12.  Part 1.  It follows directly upon Variation 11 without a break, and forms a pair with it.  Like Variation 11, it is smooth and gentle (Brahms marks it soave).  The left hand presents a version of the theme that is stripped down to its most basic elements in slower double notes.  The right hand decorates this, first with sighing off-beat notes, then with a more flowing, wide-ranging line similar to the melody in Variation 11.  The pattern is repeated at a higher level for the second phrase, and the last descent of the left hand (now in the middle range) speeds up as the half-cadence is approached.
10:14 [m. 105]--Part 1 repeated.
10:27 [m. 109]--Part 2.  The pattern is basically retained for the “contrasting” bars, which include their usual hints at the minor key.  The second bar groups the flowing right hand into two-note units, which reach quite high.  This continues in the first “returning” bar, with two successive two-note groups repeated four times each as they reach their highest level before easily descending toward the cadence with a chromatic scale (half-steps).  The let hand moves to full chords, including a rolled upbeat chord, in the “returning” bars.  After the cadence, the last right-hand arpeggio quickly turns upward to lead into the repeat.
10:40 [m. 109]--Part 2 repeated.  The last right-hand arpeggio does not turn back upward, stopping on a quiet but firm cadence.  There is thus no direct connection to the highly dramatic entry of Variation 13.
10:55 [m. 113]--VARIATION 13.  Largamente, ma non più.  B-FLAT MINOR.  Part 1.  The only inclusion of a tempo heading marks this variation as especially weighty.  After Variations 5 and 6 (and Variation 10, which is more minor than major), this is the last one in the home minor key.  It is slow, and contains hallmarks of the “Hungarian” style.  Chief among these would be the low and thick rolled off-beat chords in the left hand.  The heavy, expressive right hand, harmonized in double notes, begins in the tenor range and is highly decorated, including a distinctive five-note group.  The second phrase is a third higher.  It includes a slower descending triplet leading into the last bar.  A five-note flourish leads into the varied repetition.
11:17 [m. 117]--Part 1, varied repeat.  Here, the “variation” in the repeat consists of shifting both hands up an octave.  Approaching the second phrase, the right hand remains in the higher octave, but the left hand returns to its lower level, and even adds some thickness, creating full rolled chords out of some rolled punctuations that had been simple broken octaves.  The right hand remains at the higher level in the second phrase.  The closing flourish (now six notes) jumps back down, however, an octave below its previous level.
11:39 [m. 121]--Part 2.  The lower “flourish” helps return the right hand to the tenor range for Part 2.  Here, in the “contrasting” bars, the right hand becomes thicker and includes rapid, dramatically leaping octaves following three of the off-beat left-hand chords.  The “returning” bars return to the material from Part 1.  Here, most of the left-hand punctuations are thinned to broken octaves.  The cadence includes a five-note decoration.  The closing flourish (again six-notes, as after the repeat of Part 1), is an octave higher.
12:02 [m. 125]--Part 2, varied repeat.  As with Part 1, the varied repeat moves both hands up an octave.  Here, the left hand remains in the higher octave throughout the first phrase (the “contrasting” bars), but moves back to the lower level in the “returning” bars, thickening the previous broken octaves to full chords.  The right hand stays in the higher octave throughout.  The cadence is firm and solid, and remains in minor.
12:29 [m. 129]--VARIATION 14.  B-FLAT MAJOR.  Part 1.  Here, near the midpoint of the variations, Brahms introduces maximum contrast, following the slow, weighty, and melancholy Variation 13 with the most scintillating, exuberant, and fiendishly difficult variation.  Brahms even marks it sciolto.  The right hand, after an initial trill, descends rapidly in double sixths (with two full chords bridging the two bars of the descent).  The left hand, playing in broken octaves and arching arpeggios, has many wide, treacherous, and rapid leaps.  The second phrase is a third higher, as expected, and follows the same pattern in the descent to the half-cadence, touching on D minor (as in Variation 11) along the way.
12:29 [m. 129]--Part 1 repeated.
12:49 [m. 133]--Part 2.  The “contrasting” bars (with no turn to minor) begin like another descent with a starting level midway between the first two, but the second bar suddenly breaks, inserting four trills on steadily ascending notes.  Under this, the left hand includes more stepwise motion.  The “returning” bars enter at the top of this series of trills.  They return to the broken sixths, but include stronger punctuating (and syncopated) chords as the full cadence is approached.   A “bridge” chord follows the cadence.
12:59 [m. 133]--Part 2 repeated.  The “bridge” chord is replaced by the octave upbeat to Variation 15.
13:09 [m. 137]--VARIATION 15.  Part 1.  The variation follows directly upon Variation 14, but does not really make a “pair” with it.  It is equally exuberant and joyous, however.  Its main idea is a series of upbeat-downbeat “bell” chords (or octaves) followed by a faster series of generally downward-arching chords.  Both hands are in parallel motion throughout.  The pattern is used in each of the four bars, but the “bell” chords are expanded before the second and fourth bars.  The third and fourth bars begin a third higher than do the first two.  The half-cadence artfully leaps outward by octaves to the upbeat of the repeat.
13:18 [m. 137]--Part 1 repeated.
13:28 [m. 141]--Part 2.  The “contrasting” bars make the turn to the minor key.  The upbeat-downbeat “bell” figures are thinned to rising chromatic octaves, and the faster downward-arching figures to thirds and sixths.  Unexpectedly, there is an added “contrasting” bar with a longer series of rapid downward-arching figures.  The “returning” bars are again in the pattern of Part 1, but the last bar expands the “bell” figures, omitting the faster figures and moving to an emphatic cadence.  This is the only time that any part of any variation varies from the four-bar units.  The extra “contrasting” bar has created a five-bar Part 2.
13:40 [m. 141]--Part 2 repeated.  There is a small pause before Variation 16.
13:55--END OF TRACK.  Variation 16 begins with a new track. 0:00 on this track would be 13:55 in the overall time structure.  Add 13:55 to the times below to integrate them into the variations as a whole.
0:00 [m.146]--VARIATION 16.  Part 1.  Like Variation 15, it begins with an upbeat, and the material is similar.  Unlike Variation 15, it is quiet and secretive, though distinctly articulated.  It is in an “imperfect” canon, which means that the imitation is at times inexact.  The left hand and right hand are in single voices, the left hand leading.  Large leaps resembling the “bell” figures of Variation 15 are followed by running figures similar to the “arching chords.”  On the leaps, the left hand moves down and the right hand moves up, but the running figures move in the same direction.  The imitation is clearly audible, if inexact.  In the last bar, faster leaps, a “combination” of the two elements, completely break the imitation and propel the music into the repetition.
0:07 [m. 146]--Part 1 repeated.  The right hand has a downbeat note at the beginning (led into by the “propelling” leaps) that was not there in the first statement.
0:15 [m. 150]--Part 2.  In Part 2, the imitation becomes more regular, with both hands moving downward on the punctuating leaps.  In the second bar, the distance of imitation is changed.  The right hand now imitates the left at only a fourth (rather than an octave) higher on the running figures.  The music makes the usual turn to minor in these bars.  In the last bar, the faster “combination” leaps remain imitative rather than breaking the canon, and they catapult directly into the repeat (or Variation 17).
0:22 [m. 150]--Part 2 repeated.
0:29 [m. 154]--VARIATION 17.  Part 1.  Brahms marks più mosso here, and although the following variations are slightly faster, the notes are longer in Variation 17, so there is no effect of a large acceleration.  The left hand is a skeleton version of the theme similar to that in Variation 12, but the double notes are interrupted by low bass punctuations on the upbeats and downbeats to each bar, mostly descending leaps.  Meanwhile, the right hand lightly skips downward from high levels with wide leaps and repeated notes.  These descents begin right after the downbeat of each bar.  They are quiet, but distinct.
0:36 [m. 158]--Part 1 repeated.  The repetition is given new notation instead of a repeat sign, but there is no real variation.  The only difference is that the right hand does not play on the first downbeat, as it did in the first statement.  Also, the final upbeat, now leading into Part 2, is an octave lower than the first statement.
0:43 [m. 162]--Part 2.  The “contrasting” bars continue the pattern, and the usual hint at the minor key is made.  The low bass punctuations now leap upward.  The “returning” bars connect the right-hand descents, and the last two bars are also smoothly connected in the left hand, the harmony expanding to full chords.
0:50 [m. 162]--Part 2 repeated.  The final upbeat is omitted, and there is a slight pause before Variation 18.
0:59 [m. 166]--VARIATION 18.  Part 1.  Marked grazioso, this variation is a development of the material heard in Variation 17.  The descents are somewhat “filled” in with faster notes.  The double notes presenting the skeleton version of the theme are now syncopated.  Also, the hands reverse their patterns every bar, so in the second and fourth bars, the right hand plays the slow syncopations and the left hand the faster descents.  The descents begin with an octave leap and end by turning around and briefly ascending.  These turns are longer when in the left hand.  The second half is, as usual, a third higher than the first.
1:11 [m. 166]--Part 1 repeated.
1:23 [m. 170]--Part 2.  The pattern continues in the second part, with the usual turn to minor in the “contrasting” bars.  As in Part 1, the patterns in the hands are reversed every bar.  The left hand has the faster descents in the second and fourth bars, as in Part 1.
1:35 [m. 170]--Part 2 repeated.  There is a pause before Variation 19.
1:51 [m. 174]--VARIATION 19.  12/8 time.  Part 1.  This is the first variation to change meter, although the meter change simply affects the division of the beat into three (instead of two) parts.  It is in the siciliana rhythm, an Italian dance in 6/8 or 12/8 with distinctive dotted rhythms.  In the first statement of Part 1, these dotted rhythms are in the lower voice of the right hand, punctuated by short trills.  The top voice, as well as the left hand, therefore seem quite static.  Brahms marks the variation leggiero e vivace, lightly and quickly.  As usual, the second phrase begins a third higher.  The harmony is quite full throughout.
2:03 [m. 178]--Part 1, varied repeat.  Both hands are moved up an octave for the entirety of the repeat.  Also, the dotted rhythms and punctuating trills are moved from the lower right-hand voice to the top voice.
2:15 [m. 182]--Part 2.  Both hands move back down to the lower octave.  The vestiges of the theme are clearly audible in the “contrasting” bars, which do not make the brief move to minor here.  The left hand is reduced to a single note, however.  The harmony is again more full in the “returning” bars leading to the final cadence, and they are in the higher octave.  Again, the dotted rhythms and punctuating trills are in the lower right-hand voice.
2:26 [m. 186]--Part 2, varied repeat.  Because Part 2 itself is split between the lower and the upper octave, the same levels are kept for the repeat, unlike the repetition of Part 1.  The dotted rhythms and punctuating trills, however, do move from the lower to the upper voice throughout.
2:41 [m. 190]--VARIATION 20.  4/4 time.  Part 1.  The variation begins with an upbeat.  The right hand plays rich chords in the piano’s tenor range.  They contain many chromatic notes, and they move largely by half-step.  The left hand plays low octaves, twice as slow as the right hand chords.  They also move largely by half-step, with some leaps for changes of range.  The upward and downward surging of the highly chromatic chords is marked by a surge and receding of volume.  The second half is smoothly connected to the first, and, as usual, begins a third higher.
2:55 [m. 194]--Part 1, varied repeat.  The left hand is unaltered, but the right hand chords are moved up an octave so that they reach into the higher range.
3:10 [m. 198]--Part 2.  Back in the lower (tenor) octave, the “contrasting” bars steadily move upward, with an up-down motion in the second bar.  In the second bar, the left-hand octaves also speed up, moving as fast as the right hand.  In the “returning” bars, the left hand continues its faster motion and is no longer in octaves, but in close harmonies like the right hand, which here leaps back down and reaches the cadence.
3:26 [m. 202]--Part 2, varied repeat.  As with the repeat of Part 1, the right hand is moved up an octave in its entirety, including the internal downward leap before the “returning” bars.  Some fuller harmonies and octave doublings are added in the “returning” bars.  The left hand remains at the same level, but upper octave doubling is added in the “returning” bars.  The cadence is more solid, as there is no need for the upbeat, and Variation 21 begins on a downbeat.
3:46 [m. 206]--VARIATION 21.  G MINOR.  Part 1.  Having already used the home minor key earlier, Brahms now adds variety by turning to the relative minor key based on G.  The shift in tonal center is striking to the ear.  The variation is a rhythmic game, with descending arpeggios in both hands.  The right hand plays triplet groups (approached by a grace-note leap), while the left hand plays groups of four in straight rhythm.  This three-against-four conflict, while quiet, is quite unsettling.  On the first beat of each phrase, the right hand plays a held double note against an ascending left-hand arpeggio.  There is a held note and trill before the second phrase, which, as expected, is set higher, first by a wide distance and then gradually closer.
3:57 [m. 206]--Part 1 repeated.  Note the slight change of right-hand direction on the half-cadence at the end (also present in the first statement).
4:10 [m. 210]--Part 2.  The three-against-four conflict is preserved in the “contrasting” bars , but the left hand now arches up and back down, alternating on each group of four, while the right hand alternates its descending triplets with held notes (played while the left hand ascends).  Both the triplets and the held notes are still approached by the leaping grace notes.  The “returning” bars are in the previous pattern of Part 1.  A short trill is added to the cadence.  The returning bars contain chromatic notes centered around G.
4:18 [m. 210]--Part 2 repeated.  The cadence is re-notated with slight alterations to make it more final.
4:33 [m. 214]--VARIATION 22.  B-FLAT MAJOR.  Part 1.  The change back to the major key on B-flat is arresting, particularly as it begins the so-called “music box” variation.  The steady left hand , with its anchored low note and constant oscillating pattern, is almost a drone.  It is set in the middle range of the piano.  The lower voice of the right hand is also very static, only briefly moving from its repeated note in the middle of each phrase.  The top voice has the melodic interest, primarily generated by a dotted rhythm.  A brief flourish in the right hand’s lower voice serves to connect the phrases.  The steadily climbing high register of the top voice and the static, drone-like nature of the other parts create the “music box” effect.
4:47 [m. 214]--Part 1 repeated.
5:01 [m. 218]--Part 2.  The bottom of the left hand remains anchored through the “contrasting” bars, even while its upper voices are somewhat more active.  The right hand increases slightly in intensity by reusing the phrase-bridging flourish in an unexpected way, to punctuate accented syncopations in the top voice.  The  high point of the buildup is the highest pitch in the variation.  The “returning” bars are focused on setting up a strong cadence, also punctuated by the flourish.  The “drone” continues into the repeat.
5:16 [m. 218]--Part 2 repeated.  The “music box” finally winds down at the cadence.
5:31 [m. 222]--VARIATION 23.  12/8 time.  Part 1.  The variation is marked vivace e staccato.  While in major, it consistently uses the lowered sixth (G-flat) that is borrowed from the minor.  It involves restless, detached three-note arpeggios alternating between the right and left hands.  More isolated detached notes are played by each hand when not playing the arpeggios.  The right hand is in the middle range of the piano.  On the last three beats of the second and fourth bars, the right hand reverses direction to descend, and both hands play three straight arpeggios in contrary motion.  The second phrase is, as usual, at a higher level, but its last arpeggios descend more precipitously.
5:40 [m. 222]--Part 1 repeated.
5:49 [m. 226]--Part 2.  The highly chromatic “contrasting” bars alternate all the way through, without the right hand reversal and simultaneous arpeggios in opposite directions.  However, the weak beats--where the left hand is playing arpeggios--are now suddenly and strongly loud, creating a soft-loud alternation.  The left hand also adds a low bass octave to the first notes of its arpeggios.  The “returning” bars are a full octave higher than their Part 1 counterparts.  In the last bar, the right hand again reverses, and these descending arpeggios are all forceful and marked.  Here, the left hand arches up and back down, so that at the very end, both hands are descending.
5:58 [m. 226]--Part 2 repeated.
6:07 [m. 230]--VARIATION 24.  12/8 time.  Part 1.  This variation is clearly paired with the previous one.  It essentially replaces the arpeggios of Variation 23 with scale runs, and closely follows the pattern otherwise.  It also uses the characteristic lowered sixth.  Some of the descending right hand runs in the second and especially the fourth bars contain skips, and the second phrase is now a full octave higher than the first.  Unlike in Variation 23, the last three beats of Part 1 (in contrary motion) are all loud and forceful.
6:16 [m. 230]--Part 1 repeated.
6:24 [m. 234]--Part 2.  The pattern of Variation 23 continues to be followed and intensified with the scale runs, this time adhering more closely to the model than did Part 1.  Here, the left hand runs in the “contrasting” bars contain octave leaps and skips.  The loud-soft alternation is heard in the first bar, but then is replaced with a steady buildup in the second.  The “returning” bars return to a soft level, then steadily build to the end.  The right hand runs in the last bar, including the first ascending one, are all arpeggios instead of scales.  The left hand goes back to runs, but adds low octaves to their opening notes.
6:33 [m. 234]--Part 2 repeated.
6:42 [m. 238]--VARIATION 25.  2/4 time.  Part 1.  At a grand and joyous level, the last variation emerges from the powerful final runs of the previous one.  It is back in the main meter.  Repeated sets of full right hand chords in dotted rhythm are broken by treacherous upward leaps from low octaves to higher double notes in the left.  The pattern is generally descending.  A short run leads to the second phrase, which is higher as usual.  Another short run leads into the repeat.
6:51 [m. 238]--Part 1 repeated.  The last lead-in run is altered going into Part 2.
7:00 [m. 242]--Part 2.  The rhythmic pattern, as well as the leaping pattern of the “interrupting” left hand, is preserved in the “contrasting” bars, but the right hand moves on its shorter chords rather than simply repeating the longer ones.  In the second bar, the right hand changes to extremely exciting upward octave leaps (block octaves leaping an octave), still in the dotted rhythm and interrupted by the left hand.  The “returning” bars go back to the original pattern of repeated chords.  A short run again leads to the repeat.
7:09 [m. 242]--Part 2 repeated, with a firm and solid close on the last left-hand leap.
7:21 (21:16 total)--END OF VARIATIONS [245 mm.]

FUGA.  B-FLAT MAJOR, 4/4 time.
FUGUE EXPOSITION
0:00 [m. 1]--The fugue should follow Variation 25 after a very brief pause.  The two-bar fugue “subject” is first presented in the lower right-hand voice (the “alto”).  The very recognizable opening consists of a neighbor-note motion that begins off the beat and is repeated a third higher.  The last of the four notes of the figure is longer, creating separation.  The two gestures are followed by a somewhat meandering run that also begins off the beat and is closely related to the gestures themselves.  The derivation from the Handel theme lies in the stepwise ascent of the theme’s opening, preserved in the subject’s gradual ascent.
0:05 [m. 3]--The second entry is in the top voice (the “soprano”).  It is in the “dominant” key of F major, as is the expected pattern at the beginning of a fugue.  The alto voice continues with the “countersubject.” This consists of two short runs paired with the opening gestures.  Shorter two-note figures are played under the “meandering run.” The first and third are ascending steps and the second and fourth are descending leaps.
0:10 [m. 5]--The third entry is in the bottom voice of the left hand (the “bass”).  It is back in the home key.  Unusually, it is again the alto that plays the “countersubject” instead of the soprano.  The soprano takes the short two-note figures from the beginning, and harmonizes with the alto on these short gestures after the alto plays the two “short runs” of the countersubject.
0:15 [m. 7]--The last entry is in the top voice of the left hand (the “tenor”).  It is, like the soprano entry, in the “dominant” key of F major.  The soprano and alto play the countersubject in harmony, but they invert the two runs, playing them in descending thirds.  The bass has the short two-note figures, but follows them with a connecting third note.  As the tenor plays the “meandering” run, all three other parts are harmonizing on the short two-note figures.  They suddenly become quieter.
0:20 [end of m. 8]--END OF FUGUE EXPOSITION
0:20 [m. 9]--The first “episode” continues the pattern of the tenor entry, with the tenor continuing the meandering run while the other three voices still harmonize on the short two-note figures.  They move back to the home key and build back up in volume.
0:25 [m. 11]--The subject is heard simultaneously in the soprano and alto, playing in double sixths.  Against them, the tenor plays syncopated repeated notes and a descending run.  Under the second gesture of the fugue, the bass joins the tenor, and they play in double thirds on another syncopation and descent.  Under the “meandering run,” they play the short two-note gestures, still in double notes (thirds and fifths).  The alto adds chromatic notes to the meandering run.
0:30 [m. 13]--There now follows a very extended “episode” with no complete entries of the fugue subject.  The volume level becomes much quieter, and all four voices play very lightly.  The outer voices (soprano and bass) play repeated notes in syncopated rhythm.  The inner voices (alto and tenor) continue to play the “meandering runs” derived from the fugue subject, harmonized freely, largely in double sixths.  Five bars lead to F major and minor, then C minor.
0:43 [m. 18]--The “meandering” runs continue in the alto and tenor in double sixths at a lower level.  The soprano drops out.  The bass plays the short two-note gestures, alternating high and low upward steps, leaping by octaves within each bar and to a higher level (a fifth higher) between the two bars.  These bars are back in B-flat, beginning in minor and moving to major.
0:48 [m. 20]--The top two voices move higher, suggesting that the tenor has been replaced by the soprano.  They begin to play a long series of short descending runs in double thirds.  Against these short runs, the bass plays the first two gestures of the subject in the new key of E-flat major, creating the illusion that a full statement is coming.  Instead, the opening gestures simply continue, moving steadily upward in a stepwise manner with some octave leaps and then full displacement to the upper octave (the tenor range).  The upper descending runs move down, then back up.  At the end of the series, the bass has moved up more than an octave, to E.  The episode ends with the top voices moving again to double sixths and the bass to the short two-note gestures.  The entire passage steadily builds, and ends up in B-flat minor.
1:02 [m. 25]--A full entry of the subject finally arrives after the long episode.  It is in the bass.  The long notes of each opening gesture are broken into a descending octave leap.  The three-voice texture is preserved.  The top voice (presumably the soprano), plays the countersubject (now in arpeggios instead of runs), and the alto plays the short two-note gestures, harmonized by the soprano over the meandering run.  All three parts vacillate between B-flat minor and B-flat major.
1:07 [m. 27]--Full entry of the subject in the soprano in the “dominant” key, F, but it is now F minor.  The tenor voice enters here and ends up playing the countersubject in arpeggios.  Between the arpeggios, it plays harmonized descending thirds with the bass.  The alto mostly drops out, but it briefly joins the soprano, playing the second gesture of the subject with it in octaves.  Under the “meandering run,” the tenor and bass play the short two-note gestures in harmony, including octaves.
1:12 [m. 29]--A brief bridge begins to restore the four-part texture.  The soprano continues with the meandering run beyond the subject statement, and the lower voices support it with long notes in either three- or two-note chords or joining on single notes.  This bridge suddenly decreases in volume.
1:17 [m. 31]--The bass plays a full entry of the subject in the seemingly remote key of D-flat major.  This key, which is the related major key to B-flat minor, has a striking, almost otherworldly effect.  The full four-voice texture is here.  The countersubject is not heard.  Instead, the soprano continues with meandering runs, moving to short-long syncopations when the bass plays its subject run.  The middle voices provide support in long notes, the tenor initially playing the first full-bar sustained note in the fugue.  The bass introduces new leaps to the “meandering” subject run.
1:23 [m. 33]--This is an important juncture in the fugue.  For the first time, the subject is played upside-down, or in INVERSION.  It is in the soprano, still in D-flat major.  The bass plays arching arpeggios, the middle voices a mildly syncopated support in longer notes.  Under the “meandering” run (now turned upside down), the inner voices briefly join together.  The D-flat music continues to be at a quiet level.
1:28 [m. 35]--The soprano again plays the subject in inversion.  It is higher than the one just heard, and in the even more remote key of G-flat major.  The other three voices continue their pattern of the previous entry.
1:33 [m. 37]--In a bridge passage, G-flat is now re-notated as F-sharp.  The soprano plays four statements of the inverted opening gesture of the subject.  The pattern of the other three voices continues from the two previous subject entries.  The harmony shifts upward to another new key, A minor.  The volume also dramatically increases from the quiet level of the D-flat and G-flat music.
1:39 [m. 39]--A full entry of the inverted subject follows in the soprano in A minor.  It is harmonized in octaves and thirds by the alto.  Underneath it and alternating with the opening gestures, the lower voices, at a very low level, play the opening gesture of the subject in its original form.  These continue under the subject’s run.  Every other note in these bass gestures is played as an octave.  From the second gesture of the inverted subject, the soprano is harmonized with two lower voices, the bottom of which is an octave lower and the top of which is a third lower.  Thus, there is a five-voice texture here.
1:44 [m. 41]--An alternation begins between the opening gestures of the inverted subject in the right hand and the original subject in the left.  The right hand doubles in both thirds and octaves, the left in octaves on the every other note.  The harmony shifts up a half-step back to B-flat.  After one bar, the hands are reversed.  The left hand takes the gestures of the inverted subject (with thirds and octaves), and the right hand has those of the original (with alternating octaves and single notes).  The harmony is shifted up again, and it turns out that the left hand has started a full statement of the inverted subject in B minor, harmonized in thirds, while the right hand continues with the gestures from the original subject.
1:51 [m. 44]--Once again, the harmony is shifted up a half-step, to C minor.  The inverted figures are passed back to the right hand, the original ones to the left, with the same doublings as before.  These continue, then are reduced in volume.  At that point, the three-note figures are reduced to two, the right hand playing descending figures and the left hand ascending ones.  The doubling patterns of thirds and octaves continue.  After two alternations of the two-note figures, the hands come together on them, increasing in intensity.  As a climax is approached, the figures flow more evenly in four-note groups.  The left hand introduces new doublings of fifths and fourths, the right also to a lesser extent (it mostly remains in thirds and octaves).  Through all of this, the four-voice texture is basically preserved.
2:04 [m. 49]--The home key of B-flat is again reached, but it is once again the minor version of the key.  At this point, the climax of the preceding buildup, a new alteration of the fugue subject is heard, where the length of each note is doubled (and thus the subject is twice as long).  This is called AUGMENTATION.  The inverted subject is now abandoned.  The augmented subject is heard in the bass, doubled in octaves.  The right hand plays harmonized figures based on the opening gestures.  These chords are as many as three notes, so a five-voice texture again comes into play.  The subject is further punctuated between its elements by descending scales in octaves or sixths. 
2:10 [m. 51]--When the augmented subject reaches its third element (the “meandering run”), the right-hand above it plays with syncopated sixths, then full chords, after the beats in a rising pattern.  Once again there is a sudden retreat followed by a buildup.  This happens twice over the longer “meandering run.”  The right hand chords now have as many as four notes, so for the first time, six notes are heard at once.
2:15 [m. 53]--The four-voice texture is restored for a statement of the original subject (without augmentation) in the tenor.  It is in F, a mixture of minor and major.  The upper voices and the bass play material from the original countersubject, with arpeggios (not scale runs) and the short two-note figures.
2:20 [m. 55]--The soprano now begins a statement of the subject at the same level, F minor/major, but it uses the longer augmented version.  The alto plays the opening gestures at the original speed underneath this statement.  The lower parts play leaping thirds.  Both join on scale runs from the original countersubject in the breaks between the augmented subject’s elements.  When the augmented subject reaches the third element (the run), it is doubled in octaves, suddenly quiet, and accompanied by syncopated after-beat thirds and chords in the left hand.  Again, some of these chords have three notes against the subject’s octaves, creating a five-voice layout.
2:31 [m. 59]--The pattern of the augmented subject just heard continues after it is completed.  The right-hand octaves continue to “meander,” and the left hand continues to accompany with syncopated chords.  The harmony shifts to D-flat major.  The volume remains soft.
2:39 [m. 62]--The patterns of the hands are reversed.  The left hand plays the meandering octaves and the right hand the syncopated chords.  The pattern of 2:31 [m. 59], coupled with the last bar of the preceding augmented subject [m. 58], is essentially repeated with this reversal and with different harmonies.  This time it begins in B-flat minor and moves, correspondingly, to G-flat major.
2:49 [m. 66]--The left-hand octaves and right-hand chords are extended a half-bar, reaching an incomplete cadence.  Then begins a long series of alternations between the right and left hands on the opening figures of the original subject.  The right hand plays single notes, and the left is doubled in thirds.  They begin these alternations in G-flat major and hover in that key, then in D-flat.  The right hand stays anchored to a single position on its figures.
3:06 [m. 72]--Suddenly, both hands come closer together and the left hand thirds are reduced to two-note figures.  The right hand finally begins to move, working its way upward chromatically.  After what has been an exceptionally long stretch of quiet dynamic levels, this dramatic passage steadily builds with great expectation.  At the end, the key of G-flat again seems to be in force.
3:13 [m. 75]--Suddenly, with a slight shift of harmony, the home key of B-flat arrives, and will remain largely in force until the end of the fugue.  The preceding buildup emerges into the first fully harmonized statement of the fugue subject, where all four voices support the subject notes (in the soprano) in straight block harmonies with no internal motion connecting the three elements, something that has not been seen since the very beginning of the fugue.  The harmonies again suggest a major-minor mixture.
3:19 [m. 77]--Another fully harmonized statement of the fugue subject, with even more chromatic notes (specifically the unexpected B-natural) and further buildup in volume and intensity.
3:25 [m. 79]--The subject’s run is extended, as are the block harmonies in a highly dramatic buildup with several chromatic notes.  A low bass F begins to persist underneath.  The four-voice texture is maintained.
3:32 [m. 82]--The coda begins.  It is heralded by the climactic chord.  This is followed by bell-like octaves that skip up and down by an octave.  Underneath these bell-like octaves, both hands play runs and figures derived from the subject.  The right-hand figures are deftly interposed with the ringing octaves, also played by that hand.  The octaves are on the “dominant” note of F.  The runs in the left hand begin to be doubled in thirds.  At that point, counting the octaves as two voices, there are five.  Chromatic notes are again heard.
3:46 [m. 87]--The music continues still to intensify.  The bell-like octaves move to the left hand, and the bottom ones are in the lowest register.  The runs and figures are reversed between the hands, with the shorter ones in the left hand and the longer runs, later doubled in thirds, in the right.  As in the previous passage, chromatic notes are heard after three bars.
3:57 [m. 91]--The right hand begins to play cascading scales in octaves as the left hand obsessively plays the opening gesture of the fugue subject, supported by octaves and other double notes above the still-persistent low bass “dominant” note, F.  Finally, both hands emerge in double thirds, playing scale runs in opposite directions.  The climax of the intensification is finally reached with three sharp, detached chords.
4:11 [m. 96]--The left hand now plays the opening fugue subject gesture in strong bass octaves.  The gestures are isolated and work gradually upward before plunging back down and working up again. There are three “waves” of these bass figures.  Against them, the right hand plays high, full, ringing chords.  These chords descend in groups of seven, four, four, and ten, rising again between groups.
4:28 [m. 102]--Halfway into m. 102, the hands are reversed.  The right hand takes over the subject gestures, the left the rich chords.  The right hand stays anchored while the left-hand chords continue to plunge down, but they remain in the keyboard’s middle range.
4:32 [m. 104]--Suddenly, the right-hand gestures are harmonized in fourths and sixths.  The left-hand chords leap joyously.  The right hand emerges into a final “meandering run” in fourths and sixths, supported by fully harmonized short two-note figures in the left hand, arching up and down to a cadence.  An isolated short chord follows, then the final sustained, partially rolled B-flat chord, which resonates with nine notes.
5:06--END OF FUGUE [109 mm.]
END OF WORK (26:22 total)


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