PIANO QUARTET NO. 1 in G MINOR, OP. 25
Recording: Emanuel Ax, piano; Isaac Stern, violin; Jaime Laredo, viola; Yo-Yo Ma, cello [Sony S2K 45846]
Published 1863.  Dedicated to Baron Reinhard von Dalwigk.

This is an extremely significant work in Brahms’s compositional development, one of the earliest masterpieces of the Hamburg second period (the “first maturity”).  The pair of quartets for piano and strings, Opp. 25 and 26, are of huge proportions, expanding even on already large works such as the F-minor piano sonata, B-major piano trio, and B-flat major string sextet.  (The second quartet, Op. 26 in A major, is a more “pastoral” counterpart to the “tragic/heroic” Op. 25.)  Each movement is laid out on an enormous scale.  The first movement of the G-minor work is the earliest example of an approach to sonata form which Brahms would make a personal trademark: bringing back the unaltered principal theme at the beginning of the development section and abbreviating the recapitulation accordingly.  The concept was not yet polished.  The gigantic, sprawling exposition is unparalleled in later works, and because of this, the recapitulation is altered to a greater extent than would become common later.  It is perhaps his darkest, most tragic instrumental movement to date.  As in the B-major trio, the scherzo/trio-type movement was placed second, and was originally titled “Scherzo,” but Brahms re-titled it “Intermezzo” because of its large layout and subdued character.  It would also become a sort of model for later “scherzo substitutes.”  Although the main theme of the slow movement is intensely lyrical, the piece is most notable for its extended and brilliant central triple-time march.  The finale, a virtuoso showpiece, is the composer’s most sectionalized Rondo form and an early example of explicitly gypsy-inspired music, a style that would serve him well throughout his career.  The “Gypsy Rondo” was praised by his Hungarian violinist friend Joseph Joachim (who thought the first movement undisciplined) as an accurate imitation of Hungarian idioms.  Its sectionalized nature balances the organically developmental first movement.  Rarely did Brahms write anything quite as viscerally exciting as the last two pages.  Arnold Schoenberg was especially fond of this quartet.  He used it as an example of Brahms’s early approach to what he called “developing variation.”  He arranged the piece for full orchestra, skillfully coloring such passages as the slow movement’s march section. 

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

ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (From Breitkopf & Härtel Sämtliche Werke)


1st Movement: Allegro (Sonata-Allegro form). G MINOR, 4/4 time.
EXPOSITION
0:00 [m. 1]--Theme 1: Part 1. A quietly winding bare unison pattern is presented in three octaves by the piano before it settles to a brief harmonized descent.  Three bars of the pattern move downward.
0:11 [m. 5]--The cello begins the winding pattern a fifth higher, playing it over low piano octaves and off-beat right hand harmonies.  The pattern is passed after two bars to the viola, and instead of moving downward, it moves up.  After one more bar, the main pattern is finally passed to the violin, the cello joining in unison and the viola adding to the harmony.  The phrase comes to a complete, closed G-minor cadence with a turn figure in the violin.
0:24 [m. 11]--Part 2.  Without any transition, this new idea begins in the related major key of B-flat.  The piano plays two sets of “sighing” chords against a syncopated repeated-note pulsation in the cello.  The two upper strings play “sigh” figures in unison that overlap with the piano statements.  The piano then begins to play halting descents harmonized in double sixths in both hands with some chromatic color notes.  The upper strings shadow this as well, but turn back upward.  The cello pulsations continue, but the upper strings break into octave oscillations on B-flat.
0:36 [m. 17]--The strings now begin pulsations together on groups of two repeated notes, the two upper instruments still playing in unison.  The piano continues to play in sixths and thirds in both hands, leading with longer chords toward an apparent arrival point in B-flat.  This, however, is interrupted.
0:44 [m. 21]--The cadence is interrupted by the first loud dynamic marking in the movement.  All instruments play in unison (the piano in four octaves) on the opening pattern, turning to B-flat minor.  After one bar, there is a sudden quiet as the strings drop out.  When they enter, it is without the violin.  The instruments begin to harmonize and move back to G minor.  A crescendo and loud descending chords lead to another arrival point in the home key, the turn figure now played by the piano.
0:57 [m. 27]--Transition.  At the arrival point, the strings in unison begin to play the opening winding pattern.  The piano punctuates this with loud chords and shorter upbeat figures.  This breaks after three bars, with the unison strings moving to two note “sigh” figures.  The piano upbeats, which are four-note trill-like figures, expand to the last three beats.  Then the short trill-like figures are passed to the top two string instruments while the piano and cello play together on powerful, somewhat dissonant chords.
1:13 [m. 35]--The short four-note “trill” figures expand to include a downward leap and are rapidly (and angrily) passed between the unison strings and piano octaves.  The harmony and key are moving toward the “dominant” area of D for the second theme group.
1:24 [m. 41]--The opening material based on the winding figure enters again in the upper strings.  These outbursts alternate with suddenly quiet rising cello lines accompanied by descending piano chords. This passage is extended a bit as the strings come together at the quieter volume level and the piano chords begin to arch down and back up, then down again.  A violin trill marks the arrival on D that prepares for Theme 2.
1:44 [m. 50]--Theme 2: Part 1.  An expressive melody begins in the cello, somewhat unexpectedly in the minor key.  Descending piano arpeggios in octaves accompany.  The melody includes a prominent “turning” figure.  The piano breaks away from the octaves in favor of arching double thirds (D minor).
1:54 [m. 54]--In the second phrase, starting on upbeats, the violin joins the melody in unison with the cello.  The music has reached a louder level.  The piano breaks again into descending arpeggios over low bass octaves, expanding them into triplet cross-rhythms against the strings.  The violin/cello melody descends to an apparently strong cadence that is interrupted in a very similar manner to the one before 0:44 [m. 21].
2:04 [m. 59]--The melody is now taken by the piano right hand in octaves.  The pianist plays the entire melody heard from the cello and violin, including the slight buildup in the second phrase.  The strings accompany, the viola making its first appearance after a long rest at the beginning of the theme group.  The violin plays arching arpeggios in triplet cross-rhythms.  The cello plays mostly in “straight” rhythm, joining the violin triplets once.  The viola plays long double notes and two-beat “sigh” figures.  The expected cadence is not interrupted this time, but is expanded after the arrival, with the low bass piano octaves becoming more active and taking over the previous descent.
2:25 [m. 69]--The violin further expands the cadence gesture and broadens it even more into a new ascending line in dotted (long-short) rhythm.  The piano right hand now plays decorative and winding arpeggios, sometimes incorporating double-third harmony.  The violin and piano right hand exchange their music once (in m. 72).  The piano bass and the cello first imitate the violin, then expand the descending cadence gesture in octaves against the new violin line.  The viola plays double-note figures beginning after the beat.  The entire passage swells greatly in volume.
2:38 [m. 75]--At the high point, the strings join in unison, and the piano breaks into a rapid arching figure.  The material is twice exchanged between strings and piano, the piano left hand taking the unison string music.  Finally, the strings drop out on a chord, and the piano breaks into a huge sequential descent with the rapid trill-like figures in the right hand and precipitous broken octaves in the left, moving to the major key.
2:46 [m. 79]--Part 2.  The expressive melody is now played in a major-key variant by the violin and viola in unison.  It begins quietly but builds steadily.  The piano continues the rapid trill-like figures in a murmuring manner.  The cello, plucked, plays an oscillating bass with a constant low note (A).  The piano bass joins the cello.  When this constant bass note is abandoned after four bars, the cellist takes the bow again.  After the first phrase, the piano has a bridge with rapid arching arpeggios, quieting down again (D major).
3:02 [m. 87]--The piano begins to repeat the major-key melody, with the trill-like figures moving to the viola and violin, the cello bowing notes in harmony with the piano, but the piano’s statement “restarts” itself and takes a harmonic detour to the key of F major as it builds.
3:13 [m. 92]--The piano adds a new phrase to the melody, mostly played in octaves.  It moves quickly back to D and is passed to the strings in unison, the piano playing full chords.  The piano returns to octaves, the cello doubling its left hand.  The violin and viola continue to play in unison against them.  The music continues to build toward a climax and moves to a strong arrival point as all four instruments harmonize.
3:31 [m. 101]--Part 3.  The viola plays a new, strongly lyrical melody, doubled and harmonized by the piano and cello, the piano left hand and cello playing a sort of “drone” bass.
3:44 [m. 107]--The violin joins, doubling the viola an octave above.  The exposition has now reached its largest climax, and Brahms marks it animato.  The strongly lyrical melody is joyously expanded.  The expected full cadence, however, is aborted by a “deceptive” motion in the bass. 
3:57 [m. 113]--The music suddenly becomes more hushed, and the melody is further expanded by passing fragments between the strings while the piano plays an extension with heavy use of dotted rhythms.  It appears to build to another arrival, but is diverted again in the same way.
4:12 [m. 120]--The viola alone takes the previous small fragments as the violin and cello play the dotted-rhythm extension introduced by the piano.  The piano bass still participates in this, but the right hand begins to play decorative descending arpeggios in triplet rhythm.  The music gradually quiets down, the piano begins to play repeated triplet patterns, the strings come together, and after one more deceptive motion, the full cadence in D major finally arrives in a subdued manner.
4:34 [m. 130]--Closing section.  The piano returns to the winding octaves of the opening.  The strings respond with harmonized two-note “sigh” figures.   Soon, the piano reverses these, and the alternation is at a closer distance.  Brahms begins to mix D minor and D major here as he approaches another arrival point.
4:59 [m. 141]--The strings now take up the opening pattern in unison octaves, the piano responding with rippling arpeggios, the right hand playing triplets while the left plays straight rhythms.  As before, the alternation becomes closer while major and minor begin to be mixed.
5:21 [m. 151]--The strings, still playing in unison, begin to ascend in long notes, with a trill leading to a strong, but gentle arrival point.  The piano plays a mixture of straight and triplet-rhythm arpeggios.  The strings begin to harmonize, and the piano plays a very light descent in double notes in both hands.  From here, the violin plays short cadence gestures with short responses from the other strings and the piano.  The cadence gestures are passed first to the viola, then the cello.  The exposition ends in D major, but the cello’s cadence gestures and the piano bass contain a dissonant note (E-flat) that hints at the home key of G minor.
DEVELOPMENT
5:45 [m. 161]--The development begins as if the exposition were to be repeated.  The opening piano octaves on the winding pattern are heard as at the beginning.
5:54 [m. 165]--Pattern passed to the string instruments and arrival at a G-minor cadence, as at 0:11 [m. 5].
6:07 [m. 171]--Theme 1, Part 2 is played, again without any transition.  Instead of a major key, however, it is played in C minor, giving it an entirely new character.  This is the point where it is clearly development and not repetition.  The main ideas are taken by the piano, which now dovetails with cello lines that invert the descending piano motion.  The “pulsating” syncopation is now played by the viola in octaves.  The violin is completely absent.  The viola and cello drop out, leaving the piano to play a stark descent to the abyss in low octaves (still in C minor).
6:26 [m. 180]--In two sequences, the trill-like figure is played three times: first quietly and intensely by violin and cello in octaves over a held low piano octave, then by the viola over a piano chord and held notes from the other strings, and finally in a loud piano outburst, cascading down the keyboard over leaping bass octaves.  The first sequence swings back toward G minor, the second to a new area, A minor.  The second sequence is not precisely analogous to the first, especially the cascading piano line.
6:41 [m. 188]--A long series of powerful interjections on weak beats.  These consist of short trill-like figures in octaves in the violin and cello, supported by chords and double stops in the piano and viola.  There are similarities to the “winding” pattern of the main theme.  The strong beats are punctuated by low bass piano octaves.  A minor/major remains the primary key area.  The viola participates in the trill-like figures at the end of the passage.  The violin and cello simulate the previous “cascading” piano outburst with leaping bass octaves, then pass it to the piano itself.  The piano brings the volume back down.
6:57 [m. 196]--The strings begin to pass the “winding” pattern from the main theme to each other over a continuous background of the trill-like figures in the piano over supporting chords.  The order is cello, violin, cello, violin, viola, violin.  Then, the strings, in pairs, move from A minor to a warmer E major, first violin and viola, then viola and cello, using the “harmonized descent” that follows the main pattern.  All three string instruments then move back to A minor over the descent, the piano slowing to triplet octaves.
7:15 [m. 205]--With a quiet, urgent, intensity, the violin and viola begin to play in tremolo.  The cello takes the winding main pattern.  The piano also begins to play the pattern, passing it between the hands.  The cello then joins in the intense tremolo, all instruments now playing the main pattern in harmony over the piano bass.  There is a powerful crescendo as the piano begins to play chords in the right hand.  There is a strong motion from A minor to E minor.
7:33 [m. 214]--At a huge arrival point, the strings in unison play a powerful version of the main pattern in E minor.  This version includes a new downward plunge subtly introduced by the piano bass in the last passage.  There follows a long transitional pattern.  The piano right hand begins to play fast broken octaves.  Against them, the violin and viola (in unison) and the cello and piano bass (also in unison, but not with the upper strings), play metrically displaced versions of the main pattern, the high strings beginning on the last beats of each bar, the cello and piano bass beginning on the downbeats.
7:50 [m. 223]--Re-transition.  At the high point, the violin and viola again break into tremolo playing.  The piano bass and cello now begin to pass the thematic pattern between them.  The piano right hand slows from fast broken octaves to descending arpeggios in triplet rhythm as the piano bass (now quite low) and the cello come together again (on metrically displaced groups of four, then three rising notes). 
8:08 [m. 232]--After some length, the music rapidly quiets down again.  The long-range goal of this passage and the last has been the preparatory “dominant” harmony, D major.  The tremolos end, as do the ever more hesitant piano triplets.  The strings are left alone for two unison plucked D’s (the second without the violin).
RECAPITULATION
8:18 [m. 237]--Theme 1, Part 2.  Since the opening material was used for most of the development section, including being stated unaltered at its beginning, it is omitted here.  The theme is played in a direct transposition to the home major key of G (where we would expect all themes in the recapitulation) instead of the original B-flat.  The cello has the syncopated repeated-note pulsations, as in the exposition.
8:31 [m. 243]--Groups of two repeated notes in the upper strings, long piano chords, and motion toward an interrupted arrival point, as at 0:36 [m. 17].
8:39 [m. 247]--Theme 1, Part 2 continues with a new inserted extension in G major/minor.  The pulsating notes are moved to the piano bass, and the cello begins a new, highly expressive melody that inverts the general descending motion of Theme 1, Part 2.  The upper strings join, adding many chromatic notes and some syncopation, and all instruments settle to an expectant arrival, the pulsating piano bass continuing on the “dominant” note, D.
9:07 [m. 259]--The passage is analogous to 0:44 [m. 21], with the unison octaves on the main winding pattern and the rapid loud/soft alternation, then harmonization, crescendo, and arrival point, but the beginning is on different pitches.  Since Brahms is already in G, there is no need to move back there, so the opening is altered to avoid such a key change.  The large arrival point is as in the exposition.
9:19 [m. 265]--Transition.  As at 0:57 [m. 27], with no changes.
9:35 [m. 273]--Continuation of transition material, with the first four bars unaltered from 1:13 [m. 35].  The last two bars of the passage, however, have altered pitches and harmonies that effect an unexpected key change to E-flat major.  Then, the entire passage from 1:24 [m. 41], as well as all of Theme 2, Part 1 are skipped.  The passage merges directly into the sequential descent with precipitous left hand octaves heard before 2:46 [m. 79].  In total, 36 bars of exposition material have been simply excised here, as opposed to the much smaller insertion of new material at 8:39 [m. 247].
9:51 [m. 281]--Theme 2, Part 2, transposed to E-flat major from the D major of 2:46 [m. 79].  The function of E-flat major is to give later emphasis to the minor version of the key on G, which contains the note E-flat (a pitch not present in pure G major).  In most cases, such a theme would be in the home major key in the recapitulation, but such an analogy has already happened with Theme 1, Part 2.
10:06 [m. 289]--Continuation of Theme 2, Part 2 with the piano, as at 3:02 [m. 87], but with a new harmonic detour and alteration suggesting a motion to D minor, and extended by one bar.
10:18 [m. 295]--New piano octave phrase from 3:13 [m. 92].  This phrase finally moves definitively back to the home key of G minor.  Aside from some register shifts and other minor alterations, the most important difference is that it is in minor instead of major.  It is passed to strings, as before, and leads toward the same strong cadence.  This time, the intensity surprisingly weakens at the cadence.
10:37 [m. 304]--Theme 2, Part 3.  It is played in the home key of G minor and is drastically altered.  Instead of triumphant and full-hearted, it is now mysterious and even ominous.  The strings play it alone, the violin taking the melody and alternating it with a constant low “drone” on another string.  The other two strings provide smooth harmonies.
10:52 [m. 310]--In a passage analogous to 3:44 [m. 107], the piano joins in a cross-rhythm, the right hand playing triplets and the left hand playing straight rhythm.  The piano lines are expressive and smooth, still in the quiet, mysterious minor key.  The violin continues with its melody and “drone,” and the viola continues its slower smooth lines, but the cello now plays isolated plucked notes.
11:07 [m. 316]--Analogous to 3:57 [m. 113].  There is less contrast here, since the music is already quiet, but the minor key still lends it a darker character.  The piano plays largely the same music as in the earlier passage, as do the strings, but the violin and viola now play their fragments in triplet rhythm.  The passage is abbreviated by one bar.
11:21 [m. 322]--Analogous to 4:12 [m. 120].  Here, the music comes closer to the exposition.  The piano triplets and piano bass have the same character, as does the violin melody (now doubled by viola instead of cello).  The cello line is less active than the viola line in the earlier passage.  The passage is the same length, but the “deceptive” motion comes one bar earlier.
11:44 [m. 332]--Closing Section in G minor.  The piano returns to the winding main theme  Alternation with the string “sigh” figures.  This passage is exactly analogous to 4:34 [m. 130].
CODA
12:10 [m. 343]--The piano bass begins to play the main “winding octave” theme.  The strings respond on the weak beats, the viola entering slightly earlier in syncopation.  The piano right hand plays in the triplet rhythm with a strong upper voice projecting over the triplets.  Two isolated right hand figures on the weak beats alternate with three smoother ones in the next bar.  This alternation happens four times.  On the fifth “cycle” the groups of three are heard in both bars, the violin and cello now alternating and dovetailing with the piano on their own three-note groups.  The passage steadily, gradually, and powerfully increases in intensity.  It is roughly analogous to 4:59 [m. 141], but it is so radically different, obviously working toward the ending, that the beginning of the coda can be labeled here.
12:31 [m. 353]--The violin and cello are reduced to two-note “sigh” figures, and the piano right hand begins to play sets of descending triplets without the strong upper voices.  The left hand continues with the “winding octaves.”  The volume swells powerfully, and all instruments arrive at an intense climax, the viola finally abandoning its syncopation for feverish triplets with the cello.  The climax quickly recedes.  The strings, then the piano triplets and bass drop out.  Three bare unison plucked string octaves lead to a rather “tragic” cadence.  This corresponds roughly with 5:21 [m. 151], but the character is greatly altered.
12:55 [m. 364]--The strings in unison, beginning quietly, but arduously building again, play the main winding octave theme.  They hold notes over bar lines as the piano, in harmony, responds to them.  Reaching steadily upward, the instruments come to their last high point and then, sapped of all strength, descend and diminish again.  The strings play long chords and the piano plays oscillating triplets under a syncopated upper voice, all slowing to the final quiet G-minor chord.
13:38--END OF MOVEMENT [373 mm.]


2nd Movement: Intermezzo - Allegro, ma non troppo; Trio - Animato (Intermezzo [Scherzo] and Trio). C MINOR, 9/8 time
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INTERMEZZO
0:00 [m. 1]--Part 1.  The strings alone open the movement, and all three play with mutes throughout.  The cello begins a quiet pulsation on the keynote C.  The violin and viola enter in harmony with the hushed, melancholy main theme, which has a drooping, sighing character.  The cello stays on the same note until the pulsation moves in the seventh bar.  At this point, the harmony veers to the “dominant” chord of G major.
0:19 [m. 13]--The piano joins with chords in the rhythm of the main theme, now in a brighter major key, as the cello continues its pulsations.  The violin and viola add plucked interjections.  The volume level remains very quiet, and the piano melody moves toward an arrival point, not in C minor, but in C major.
0:25 [m. 17]--Part 1, Varied repetition.  The arrival is somewhat aborted by the breaking off of the piano.  The pulsations move from the cello to the viola.  The main theme is now played by the piano.  The violin and cello, playing mostly in unison, add a new counterpoint to the main theme.  Motion to G-major harmony, as before.
0:43 [m. 29]--The brighter major-key extension is now played by the violin and viola, the pulsations moving back to the cello.  The piano plays detached octaves taking the place of the previous plucked violin/viola interjections.  Arrival point in C major, as before.
0:49 [m. 33]--Part 2.  The constant pulsations finally break off.  The viola and cello begin to oscillate, and the piano, aborting the expected cadence, repeats a sequence of the previous descending chords played by the upper strings.  These chords move the key center to F minor, where the second major theme is heard.  It enters in the violin as the piano completes its chords, and consists of a halting, rather nervous melody decorated with grace notes (appogiaturas).  The violin continues to play the theme, which breaks into a duple rhythm going against the prevailing 9/8.  The piano plays decorative arpeggios, first arching upward, then remaining more static.  The viola and cello play detached, punctuating chords.
1:05 [m. 43]--The piano right hand, playing in octaves, repeats the second theme, including its grace notes.  The left hand plays supporting arpeggios along with the cello.  The upper strings combine arpeggios with repeated notes.  At the point where the theme breaks into duple rhythm, the piano expands and intensifies it, extending it by two bars and arriving at a full cadence in F minor.
1:20 [m. 52]--Full statement of the main theme in F minor.  The pulsations are again in the cello.  The thematic material itself is passed between the violin/viola pairing and the piano, beginning with the strings. The alternation comes after each one-bar unit that begins on an upbeat.  The last alternation (after four previous ones) expands the units of both strings and piano to two bars.  An expected (and corresponding) arrival on C major is aborted by an extension to the main theme.
1:38 [m. 64]--An extension to the main theme in F minor.  There is one more two-bar alternation between the upper strings and the piano, a step higher than the last one.  The strings begin another pattern, but the piano comes in “early,” now imitating the upper strings directly.  The cello pulsations never break.  Both the strings and the piano swell rapidly on this pattern, leading to the first louder volumes in the movement as they come together.  They move back to the home key of C minor on strong chords, the viola briefly joining the cello pulsations.
1:50 [m. 72]--After two loud false starts over sharp piano chords and continuing cello pulsations, the second theme is strongly played in the home key of C minor.  It is given in unison from the violin and viola.  The piano plays its decorative arpeggios, as it had when the theme was played softly at 0:49 [m. 33].  When the cello pulsations finally break, the instrument plays a plucked counterpoint in duple rhythm, anticipating the duple shift of the theme.    When this duple passage arrives, the piano bass breaks into broken octaves in the contrasting rhythm, leaving the piano right hand alone to maintain the 9/8 pulse.
2:06 [m. 82]--The music quiets down again, and the piano takes the repetition of the second theme, transforming it utterly by changing it to C major instead of minor, albeit with many chromatic notes borrowed from the minor.  It is somewhat analogous to 1:05 [m. 43], but there are certain differences, such as the piano splitting the octaves between the hands and abandoning its left hand arpeggios at the outset (they are reinstated at the motion to duple rhythm).  Also, the cello line is smoother and less detached.  The theme is even more extended than before, delaying the cadence by four more bars.  This delayed C-major arrival releases much tension.
2:26 [m. 94]--At the arrival point in C-major, the Theme 1 music originally heard in major at 0:19 [m. 13] is used as the basis for a “codetta.”  The pulsations begin again, now heard for the first time in the piano bass.  The violin and viola play the thematic material in harmony, the cello providing smooth counterpoint.  The right hand plays interjecting octaves.  At the end, the piano takes over the melody in a reiteration that leads to a C-major cadence, the pulsations briefly moving to the viola and cello, the interjections to the violin.
2:36 [m. 100]--The strings begin a reiteration of the cadence, with many chromatic notes, as the pulsation returns to the piano bass.  The descending reiteration is passed to the piano, as before, with the pulsations now moving definitively back to the cello, doubled briefly here by the viola.
2:42 [m. 104]--The cadence is interrupted by the intrusion of the note B-flat in the piano on the arrival.  This interruption leads to a statement of the principal portion of the main theme, transformed to C major.  The violin and viola play it in harmony, the cello taking the pulsations, the piano playing isolated interjections.  Unexpectedly, the theme expands higher and the piano right hand, playing full chords, briefly imitates it before returning to detached chords, the cello remaining constant on its pulsating low C.
2:53 [m. 111]--When the upper strings reach a high C, they remain there, holding it until the end of the main Intermezzo, the cello remaining on its unmoving low C pulsations.  Against this, the piano plays four dissonant chords (two each of “augmented sixth” and “diminished seventh” chords in alternation) that resolve to C-major chords.  The music gradually slows and quiets.  Two reiterations of the last of these major chords complete the main Intermezzo.  The cello pulsations lead into the Trio as the upper strings abandon their long-held high C.
TRIO (A-flat major) - Animato
3:04 [m. 117]--Theme 1.  The piano begins its scurrying motion with an arpeggio and then murmuring neighbor-note groups.  The violin presents the jaunty five-bar theme in A-flat, characterized by descending two-note figures, against the rapid piano figuration.  Immediately following this, the piano begins playing in octaves split between the hands, and the viola and cello in unison play the main theme a fourth lower, on E-flat.  The viola/cello statement is slightly altered at the end.  The two statements are rather hushed.
3:15 [m. 127]--After a descent, the piano alternates hands on the “neighbor-note” groups.  The music becomes significantly louder.  This occurs under another statement of the theme beginning on E (notated as F-flat).  The viola and cello play it, with the violin following in close imitation, but the instruments come together in harmony at the end.   The theme moves to the home minor key (A-flat minor) and quiets rapidly.
3:21 [m. 132]--The “scurrying” motion and neighbor-note groups move to the strings, especially the viola, with fragments in the cello at the beginning and the violin at the end of the first theme statement.  The piano plays the original version of the main theme in A-flat in octaves.  It moves immediately to the second statement starting on E-flat.  Here, the neighbor-note groups move to the violin and viola in unison.  The piano makes an alteration to the end of this second statement, adding a new sliding ascent by half-steps.
3:33 [m. 142]--The scurrying arpeggios and neighbor-groups move back to the piano, which alternates them between hands.  The strings present another statement of the louder “imitative” version from 3:21 [m. 132], this time with the violin leading the viola and cello and displaced by a beat.  The turn to A-flat minor at the end is slightly altered, with the viola and cello extending the downward motion while quieting down.
3:39 [m. 147]--Theme 2 in E major.  The second theme is derived from the first, but is less frantic.  The strings play it in block harmony over short repeated chord interjections from the piano.  It consists largely of a repeated rhythm beginning with a brief long-short figure.  As the theme progresses, the violin begins to strive upward by half-steps.  With a cross-rhythm implying three 6/8 bars over two 9/8 bars, piano chords and the cello divert the harmony for a key change to A-flat.
3:52 [m. 157]--Theme 2 is now played in the home key of A-flat, with the cello taking the melody.  When the ascent by half-steps is reached, the viola takes over the leading role.  The piano accompaniment is different.  The right hand now plays somewhat static arpeggios that are more in the character of the “scurrying” accompaniment to Theme 1.  The harmonic motion at the end is avoided, but the cross-rhythm is preserved.  The viola leads to the return of Theme 1.
4:05 [m. 167]--The piano merges seamlessly into the neighbor-note accompaniment to Theme 1.  Theme 1 itself begins on D-flat (where it has not been played before).  It is played by the violin with the viola and cello providing new harmonies.  The piano then moves to the split octaves, while the viola and cello play the main theme in its original form on A-flat in unison, with an alteration at the end to move back to D-flat.
4:17 [m. 177]--The volume is louder again, and the strings begin to play the “imitative” version of Theme 1 with the viola and cello (in unison) leading the violin.  It begins on D-flat.  The piano accompaniment, however, is different.  After a descending arpeggio, the figures are alternated between the hands as before, but now they play broken octaves instead of “neighbor” figures, with the right hand harmonizing its upper notes.  The theme is extended, with the two-note descents continuing at length, the violin continuing to follow the viola and cello.  The key begins to move to C minor, the key of the main Intermezzo.
4:25 [m. 184]--At the climax, the piano octaves plunge downward on harmony suggesting F minor.  The viola and cello hold a note longer, allowing the violin to “catch up.”  All three string instruments now play in unison and also move downward.  The sequence is repeated with the violin moving down to play in the same octave as the viola, all instruments changing F to F-sharp, helping to further facilitate a move back to C minor.  The music quiets down rapidly in this repetition.
4:30 [m. 188]--Re-transition.  The strings in unison play a version of Theme 2, becoming quieter and slower.  They state a two-bar unit twice.  Then the piano takes over, leading to a strong cadence on C minor and the return of the main Intermezzo.
INTERMEZZO REPRISE- “Tempo del Intermezzo”
4:38 [m. 193]--Unusually, the reprise is written out in full, though it is unvaried.  Part 1, as at the opening.
4:57 [m. 205]--Piano entry, as at 0:19 [m. 13].
5:03 [m. 209]--Part 1, Varied repetition, as at 0:25 [m. 17].
5:21 [m. 221]--Major-key extension, as at 0:43 [m. 29].
5:27 [m. 225]--Part 2.  Second theme, as at 0:49 [m. 33].
5:43 [m. 235]--Second theme in the piano, as at 1:05 [m. 43].
5:58 [m. 244]--Return of main theme in F minor, as at 1:20 [m. 52].
6:16 [m. 256]--Extension to main theme, as at 1:38 [m. 64].
6:27 [m. 264]--Second theme in C minor, as at 1:50 [m. 72].
6:44 [m. 274]--Piano statement of second theme in C major, as at 2:06 [m. 82].
7:04 [m. 286]--“Codetta” with Theme 1 music, as at 2:26 [m. 94].
7:13 [m. 292]--Chromatic reiteration of cadence, as at 2:36 [m. 100].
7:19 [m. 296]--Interruption of cadence, main theme in C major, and rise to held note, as at 2:42 [m. 104].
7:30 [m. 303]--High note in upper strings and resolution of dissonant chords, as at 2:53 [m. 111].
7:42 [m. 309]--CODA.  The coda is based on the Trio, but it is in C major.  The piano plays introductory arpeggios and then the strings, in harmony, state Theme 1 of the Trio over piano neighbor-note figures alternating between the hands.  The strings reach a drone-like C-major chord, with the viola moving over the drone before settling on the chord.  The piano continues the neighbor-note figures until the viola settles.  It then plays three arpeggios before a final, wisp-like rolled chord, all under the held string chord.
8:04--END OF MOVEMENT [321 mm.]


3rd Movement: Andante con moto (Large ternary form--ABA’). E-FLAT MAJOR, 3/4 time.
A Section
0:00 [m. 1]--The melody begins with an upbeat.  The strings present the main theme of the A section.  It is lyrical, but powerful.  The violin and cello play the melody in unison octaves, the viola providing a full, warm, and rich harmony in double-stops.  The piano provides a steadily moving accompaniment, mostly in arpeggios, but also including back-and-forth motion.  The entire piano part is doubled in octaves between the hands.  The first phrase moves to the “dominant” chord, B-flat major.
0:23 [m. 9]--The second phrase strongly asserts the home key of E-flat before veering off with more chromatic notes.  The first motion is again toward B-flat, including a quiet echo of a two-note sigh figure in the melody, but then the motion seems to be toward D, where there is an arrival point.  D major, however, is really functioning as the “dominant” pulling toward G minor, a key also related to B-flat.  The violin and cello still play in octaves, with the full viola double-stop harmony and the steadily moving piano.
0:47 [m. 17]--The music suddenly becomes quiet and mysterious in a contrasting phrase.  The piano finally abandons its steadily moving octaves and begins playing chords in triplet rhythm against a steady drone bass.  The strings narrowly creep forward, the violin leading with gently pushing two-note figures.  The key here is G minor, though it is not strongly asserted.
0:58 [m. 21]--The piano takes over the contrasting phrase with right-hand octaves.  The left-hand bass now more clearly asserts the note G.  The triplet chords move to the strings, with the cello holding steady on G, doubling the piano bass but playing in the triplet rhythm.  The phrase is extended by a bar, with the harmonies moving toward C minor (the related minor key to the movement’s home key of E-flat major).  There is a crescendo in volume at the end of the expanded phrase.
1:14 [m. 26]--  The piano suddenly erupts in an E-flat major chord and descending arpeggio, with the violin playing the chord and the two lower strings moving up on the arpeggio.  This serves as a one-bar lead-in to the return of the main melody, the violin and cello still playing in octaves with the viola harmony and steady piano octaves.  The phrase is expanded upward and extended by two bars, incorporating several chromatic notes.  The viola begins to play in triplet rhythm, abandoning the double-stops.  A cadence in E-flat (with a strong suggestion of the minor mode) appears to be imminent with a turn figure in the violin, but this is averted with a “deceptive” motion to a dissonant “diminished seventh” chord.
1:44 [m. 36]--The cello and viola lead out of the dissonant chord.  The violin repeats its cadence-suggesting turn figure, and the cello joins it again in octaves..  The piano also begins its steady octave motion again, while the viola provides harmony without double-stops.  The music is extremely full-hearted here.  The violin and cello play another turn figure, leading to a very strong, satisfying arrival on E-flat.
Transition
1:56 [m. 40]--The strings follow the arrival with an extension consisting of soaring phrases with long-short rhythm.  The viola still harmonizes the unison violin and cello.  The piano right hand breaks into rapid arching arpeggios, the left hand playing solid bass octaves.  The violin and cello move to a leaping syncopation.  There is harmonic motion toward the “dominant” of B-flat in a mixture of major and minor.
2:08 [m. 44]--The piano suddenly drops out, the music quiets down, and the violin leads in a version of the contrasting phrase from 0:47 [m. 17].  The cello provides smooth harmony, and the viola plays repeated harmonized triplet groups.  The violin notes are almost the same as in the previous presentation of this phrase, but the key center seems to be more on B-flat than on G minor.  The volume increases somewhat.
2:20 [m. 48]--The previous string passage has veered at the last moment to F minor from B-flat.  Here, the passage from 1:56 [m. 40] erupts with the rapid piano arpeggios, the soaring violin/cello phrases, and the syncopation, given in a new minor-key version.
2:32 [m. 52]--The “contrasting” phrase is heard again as the piano drops out and the music again becomes suddenly quiet.  The viola plays repeated harmonized triplets, as before.  The phrase is extended with a piano entry.  The piano right hand takes over the harmonized triplets from the viola.  The crescendo is more powerful, and the harmony moves strongly toward C minor, as it had before 0:58 [m. 21].  The instruments come together at the end in emphatic chords.
2:52 [m. 59]--The instruments arrive on a G-major chord that functions as the “dominant” leading to C.  The strings drop out and the piano suddenly begins playing clipped octaves in long-short rhythm, anticipating the upcoming march in the middle section.  These rapidly become quiet.  A middle voice emerges in the right hand on a strong half-step dissonance. 
2:59 [m. 61]--The middle voice moves down by half-steps in both hands.   Against this, the cello, then the viola, and finally the violin enter with a mournful phrase in C minor.  The string counterpoint eventually comes together with the piano’s clipped long-short rhythm.  After the middle voice reaches D, the piano bass leaps up and comes down in a scale, and the volume rapidly increases.  The middle voice in the right hand rapidly moves back up by half-steps, doubled by the violin.  The instruments arrive on another G-major chord.
3:14 [m. 66]--The music again becomes suddenly quiet.  The strings now play the clipped long-short rhythm, the descending “middle voice” being placed in the viola.  The piano bass, then the right hand doubled by the cello, play the “mournful phrase.”  The right hand then takes it alone in octaves.  As in the previous passage, the instruments come together and move toward a G-major chord over a strong increase in volume.  This time, the voice moving by half-steps moves from the middle to the top of the piano chords.
3:29 [m. 71]--In the final transition to the B section, the piano’s long-short rhythm is reduced to quiet double notes in the left hand.  The viola takes the “mournful phrase,” followed by the violin, then the viola again, and finally the violin and cello together.  These entries dovetail together.  The “mournful” phrase now sounds more hopeful, as it has been transformed to C major instead of minor.  The piano left hand reaches “dominant” chords under the last violin/cello entry, leading finally to the central march.
B section--Animato, C major
3:41 [m. 75]--First statement of march.  The piano quietly plays the triple-time march in C major, which features clipped long-short rhythms as well as triplet rhythms.  The harmonies are largely doubled in both hands.  The strings play very short interjections of repeated notes and other figures, the viola and cello sometimes playing plucked chords.
3:57 [m. 83]--Second statement of march.  The second statement is longer, making large digressions to E-flat major and C minor.  The volume remains quiet throughout, but toward the end, the short interjections of the strings expand to repeated octaves in triplet rhythm from the violin and viola as the cello moves to double the piano bass.  The first cadence in C major is diverted for more triplet rhythms and minor-key digressions, with drum-like figures in the piano and the strings taking over the march melody.  Finally, the cadence is reached.  It is reiterated in the strings with drum-like cello repeated notes.
4:31 [m. 101]--Bridge passage.  The reiteration of the cadence is loudly interrupted with a sudden A-flat major chord from the piano.  A march phrase is strongly played with three sequences in A-flat.  The strings play rapid repeated notes leaping down an octave at the end of their four-note sets.  The harmony of the last sequence is diverted again to C.
4:43 [m. 107]--The piano drops out, and the strings, still playing at a strong volume, present a new phrase with a winding and highly chromatic violin line against sharply marked triplets from the viola and cello.  These are also quite chromatic, and the phrase vacillates between minor and major.
4:51 [m. 111]--The winding phrase is now given a fourth lower from the viola and cello in unison.  The piano left hand, then the right hand imitate the viola/cello line in succession.  The strong triplets are now played by the violin.  This extended passage acts as a transition back to the main march.  The piano suddenly interjects the short clipped figures previously played by the strings, and the strings play unison triplet arpeggios that lead to a strong C-major cadence and the return of the main march melody.
5:07 [m. 119]--Third statement of march.  With a grand and triumphant arrival, the march melody is played by the violin and viola in unison with the cello harmonizing them in rhythm, the piano joyously playing the short repeated-note and chord interjections.  The statement uses the melody and harmony of the first statement from 3:41 [m. 75], but with the instrumentation reversed and with the character transformed from the originally quiet presentation.
5:23 [m. 127]--Fourth statement of march.  The piano takes over the melody again, passing the short interjections and chords back to the strings.  There are now no plucked chords.  The statement begins in a similar manner to the second statement from 3:57 [m. 83], with the same digression to E-flat, but suddenly it takes on the character of the bridge passage from 4:31 [m. 101], merging directly into the third sequence from that passage, now in E-flat instead of A-flat and moving toward G.  The volume remains strong.
5:35 [m. 133]--The winding phrase enters in the manner of that played at 4:51 [m. 111].  The piano right hand begins in octaves, with the left hand imitating.  The two upper strings play the strong triplet rhythms.  The emphatic chords at the end merge with a second statement begun by the cello and joined by the violin.  The piano left hand, then the right hand (both in octaves) imitate them, the viola alone playing the triplets.  The emphatic chords now lead to an apparent strong arrival in C minor.
Re-Transition
5:58 [m. 144]--The expected C-minor arrival is harshly interrupted by a dissonant “diminished seventh” chord.  Out of this, at a suddenly quiet volume, emerges material from the melody of the A section in the viola and cello.  The cello begins to play syncopated notes, and the piano bass plays low two-note figures in octaves.  The music remains in minor until the following violin entry.
6:16 [m. 152]--The violin begins an apparent full statement of the first phrase from the A section melody in the key of the B section, C major.  The violin even decorates the melody with a turn figure.  The viola and cello play the steady octave accompaniment previously associated with the piano, the piano itself playing only low bass octaves on G.  After four bars, the piano right hand enters, doubling the violin with harmony, the viola and cello also contributing to the harmonization.  The piano bass now plays the winding line in octaves.  The phrase is brought to completion with a small digression at the end.
6:36 [m. 160]--The viola and cello, in unison, lead an extension of the phrase, the violin and piano right hand following them.  The piano bass continues to play the steady winding octaves.  The violin/piano melody begins to move up by half-steps.  The volume strongly builds.  The piano bass, then the violin, then the piano right hand emerge in descending arpeggios.  The violin and piano right hand each, in that order, present two more descending arpeggios, the second adding syncopation.  Against these arpeggios, the viola and cello play rising two-note figures in thirds.  The final violin and piano arpeggios lead back to E-flat major and to the warm, satisfying return.
A’ Section
6:57 [m.168]--The violin presents the main melody, with syncopation and other decorations, including a turn figure.  The cello harmonizes the melody at the beginning, but then diverges into a new line, which it never did in the first A section.  The viola enters, harmonizing the cello line.  The piano now accompanies with arpeggios in triplet rhythm, first with the hands playing together and then in opposite directions.
7:18 [m. 176]--The piano alone plays the second phrase.  The material is the same as that from 0:23 [m. 9].  An inner voice provides the steadily moving line.  The echoing “sigh” is included, as is the motion toward B-flat and to D.  The music quiets down.  The strings enter right before the arrival point on D.
7:40 [m. 184]--The contrasting phrase from 0:47 [m. 17] is played in a very similar manner as before.  The violin line is identical.  The viola and cello harmonies are somewhat different.  The piano right hand plays a single winding line in triplet rhythm instead of the repeated chords.  The “drone” bass in the piano left hand includes more steady and rapid thumping of the note.
7:51 [m.188]--For this statement of the contrasting phrase, the piano right hand, which presents it, is identical to 0:58 [m. 21].  The surroundings, as in the previous passage, are different.  The left hand continues the more steady, rapid thumping, now on G.  The violin plays the winding triplet rhythm instead of repeated chords.  The viola and cello continue their smoother lines.  There is a crescendo, but the following music returns to the quiet level.
8:06 [m. 193]--This music is a highly transformed version of what was heard at 1:14 [m. 26].  The E-flat chord and arpeggio arrive, but they are now against sweeping, arching triplets in the strings.  When the melody enters, it is in a decorated and embellished version played by the piano in octaves.  The left hand plays slower low octaves.  The strings continue their sweeping triplets.  The chromatic notes and minor-key suggestion at the aborted cadence are all present within the embellished theme.  This “return” begins softer, but swells near the aborted cadence.
8:34 [m. 203]--This is an even greater intensification of the music from 1:44 [m. 36].  All strings lead out of the dissonant chord, then continue with their arching triplets passed between them.  The piano, instead of the strings, leads with a turn into the full-hearted cadence music, finally reaching the satisfying arrival with another turn.  Brahms originally included a passage after the cadence that was similar to the beginning of the earlier “transition” music (with rapid piano arpeggios), but he deleted it, opting to move right into the new coda music from the cadence.
Coda
8:47 [m. 207]--The coda begins with the music of the “contrasting phrase” from 0:47 [m. 17] and 7:40 [m. 184].  The phrase itself is played by the violin.  The piano, after its strong cadence, breaks into harmonious descending triplets doubled between the hands.  The viola and cello play more static, drone-like triplets.  The violin ends its phrase with a new trill and cadence.
8:57 [m. 211]--The viola leads a new statement of the phrase, the violin lagging behind and eventually joining it in octaves.  The piano and cello continue their triplets.  The cadence is extended, adding two more trills.  The second of these is held for a full bar, building for its lead-in to the faster closing passage.
9:18 [m. 218]--Brahms marks the closing passage poco animato.  The piano begins a rapid development of the main melody with undulating inner-voice motion, the cello doubling the drone-like bass.  The viola enters prominently with Theme 1 material and emerges into a trill.  The cello breaks from the piano bass under the trill.  The violin then enters on the viola trill, doubling the top piano voice.
9:29 [m. 224]--The violin and piano right hand begin to undulate and wind around the melodic material.  This includes a prominent minor-key inflection (C-flat).  The cello and piano bass imitate these lines, while the viola provides a constant, steady repeated two-note “sigh” pattern.  The violin and piano then settle on “sigh” patterns including the dissonant C-flat.  The cello’s lower voice and the piano bass break into an oscillating motion with syncopation across bar lines.  Here the music slows and quiets to the end.  The violin, viola, and piano “sigh” figures move down for the last two bars of this pattern (while the cello’s upper voice imitates the “dissonant” sighs).  After the pattern breaks, piano arpeggios under long, soft string chords bring a final arrival and close.
10:12--END OF MOVEMENT [235 mm.]



4th Movement: Rondo alla Zingarese - Presto (Highly sectionalized Rondo form). G MINOR, 2/4 time.
FIRST RONDO THEME COMPLEX (A)
The complex is completely organized into three-bar units, which is part of the “gypsy” character.
0:00 [m. 1]--Main Rondo theme (a).  The furious beginning is launched with immediate forward energy.  The piano and the two upper strings play the theme itself, decorated by grace notes (appogiaturas) and harmonized in thirds and sixths.  The cello and piano bass solidly thump on the keynote G, punctuating each bar with a rolled chord.  The steady bass G is only abandoned at the end of the first phrase (the first two three-bar units).  The phrase is repeated, with the violin and piano right hand an octave higher.
0:09 [m. 13]--A contrasting phrase (two three-bar units) moves generally downward in two waves, with turning “neighbor-note” figures.  The cello has broken octaves while the piano bass plays more free leaping harmonies.
0:13 [m. 19]--Return of the opening music.  It begins at a quieter level and works up again.  The repetition of the phrase with the higher violin and piano right hand is changed to strive farther upward and reach a complete cadence in G-minor.
0:22 [m. 31]--The huge first complex has its own middle section (b).  The main material is a unison half-step motion from the piano bass, viola and cello, then a rising violin/viola scale with quieter piano chords after the beat.  This is heard twice, first with the half-step on F-sharp and G.  The second sequence begins with the half-step on A and B-flat (these are the “leading” motions of G minor and the related B-flat major).
0:27 [m. 37]--The half-step motion is now played on C-sharp and D, then repeated with the violin and piano right hand added.  A third statement of the motion is harmonized in the violin and piano.  These half-steps are followed by two expansions of the rising scale that create their own three-bar units.  These transfer the scales to the piano and the after-beat chords (now no longer quiet) to the strings.  The first of these is played in doubled octaves and is more halting.  The second adds a broken-octave bass and is more forward-moving, emphasizing an oscillation after the scale.
0:35 [m. 46]--The first two units from 0:22 [m. 31] are presented again, this time with the half-step motions harmonized.  They are now played by violin (in triple-stops) and piano, with the viola and cello taking the scale patterns.  The piano takes the after-beat chords under the scales.
0:40 [m. 52]--The C-sharp to D half-steps and the expanded scale patterns from 0:27 [m. 37] are repeated.  The half-steps are played by violin and piano.  The second and third are now harmonized.  The first scale pattern is taken by viola and cello with piano after-beat chords.  The second pattern is played by violin and the right hand of the piano, with the chords in the viola and cello.  The piano bass has broken octaves under the second pattern, as it did before.  This leads directly into the partial reprise of the main theme (a).
0:47 [m. 61]--The return of the main theme is abbreviated, and begins with the contrasting phrase from 0:09 [m. 13].  It is more elaborate, with neighbor-note figures passed between the strings, the viola leading with new ones on the downbeats.  The cello takes the former viola part.  The piano bass now plays the leaping broken octaves without its previous harmonies, and the piano right hand has new, furious downward-arching arpeggios.
0:52 [m. 67]--The opening phrases of the main Rondo theme are played as they were at 0:13 [m. 19], with the complete G-minor close but without the quieter opening.  A very brief pause breaks the feverish pace.
FIRST CONTRASTING SECTION (B) - B-flat major
This contrasting section is in a “rounded binary” form.  The music is now organized into two-bar units.  These are in turn organized into groups of six (three phrases of two units each, as opposed to two of three).  This creates twelve-bar groups, as in the main Rondo section where the units were three bars each.
1:02 [m. 80]--Part 1 (a).  For the entire section, the piano has light, constant, rapidly running notes in scales, oscillations, or arpeggios.  The hands are doubled in octaves except at the end of each part.  The string harmonies are plucked throughout.  They also play rapidly, but only half as fast as the piano.  The first part has three phrases, the third of which contains rapid descending piano arpeggios and strong cadence gestures from the strings.  The second phrase moves from B-flat major to G minor, where the third phrase is heard.
1:10 [m. 80]--Part 1 (a) repeated.
1:19 [m. 92]--Part 2.  Contrasting passage (b).  Again, there are three phrases.  The strings take their bows.  The viola plays in the fast rhythm of the piano with repeated notes that move slowly.  The cello and violin alternate with the “slower” notes.  The piano continues its rapidly running passage work, now with murmuring trill-like motion.  The second phrase is a repetition (a sequence) of the first, but a step higher.  The third phrase begins by repeating (only) the second unit of the second phrase a step higher still.  It then diverges as the trills creep back down and the music slows, moving back to B-flat major.
1:29 [m. 104]--Return to the main portion (a’), with the strings again plucking.  The second and third phrases are altered, both reaching higher.  This is to allow the section to end in B-flat rather than moving to G minor.  It does pivot to G minor at the last second for the repetition of Part 2.
1:38 [m. 92]--Part 2 repeated.  Contrasting passage (b).
1:48 [m. 104]--Return to main portion (a’).  Last-second pivot to G minor for the return of the Rondo theme, into which the arpeggios rush.
SECOND RONDO THEME COMPLEX (A’)
The middle section (b) is omitted in this complex.
1:56 [m. 116]--Main Rondo theme, as at the opening.  Phrase and repetition an octave higher.  The piano right hand is quite different in this statement.  It does not double the violin on the melody, instead providing harmony and holding certain notes across bar lines.  The strings and piano left hand are identical.
2:05 [m. 128]--Contrasting phrase, as at 0:09 [m. 13].
2:10 [m. 134]--Return of the opening music, as at 0:13 [m. 19].  The “new” harmony and notes held across bar lines are transferred to the violin and viola.  The piano plays the original melody.  The music begins quietly, but for this statement, it remains quiet, even getting softer.  Brahms even thins the texture somewhat near the cadence.  After the cadence, there is a brief extension that trails down and quiets even more.  Three more three-bar units are added, reiterating the cadence and steadily decreasing in activity.
SECOND CONTRASTING SECTION (C) -  Meno Presto, G major
“Rounded binary” form, organized into three-bar units.  Six-bar phrases, two units each.
2:27 [m. 155]--Part 1 (a).  Loud, ringing chords from all instruments.  The strings reiterate the longer chords with a short-long pulsation.  The single phrase ends with a trill and a motion to the “dominant,” D.
2:34 [m. 155]--Part 1 (a) repeated.
2:42 [m. 161]--Part 2.  Contrasting passage (b).  This is set in G minor.  The piano strives upward, incorporating some triplet rhythms.  The strings play in an “oom-pah” rhythm, with the cello on the downbeats, the violin and viola responding with chords.  As with the main phrase, this one also moves to the “dominant” D-major chord. 
2:49 [m. 167]--Return to the main portion (a’), which is intensified with the addition of drum-like triplet octaves in the piano and anticipatory repeated notes in the upper strings.  The second half of the phrase is altered to reach higher upward and arrive at a full cadence in G major.
2:56 [m. 161]--Part 2 repeated.  Contrasting passage (b).
3:03 [m. 167]--Return to main portion (a’) with closed G-major cadence.  There is a short pause.
THIRD CONTRASTING SECTION (D) - E minor
“Rounded binary” form.  This section is organized into four-bar units and eight-bar phrases.  This is the only major section that abandons the larger units in six or twelve bars.
3:12 [m. 173]--Part 1 (a).  The slower tempo of Section C continues.  The character is more melancholy, as seen in the slower sections of “Hungarian” music by composers such as Liszt.  The viola and cello present a mournful theme with triplets, the cello playing above the viola.  The piano plays a quiet “oom-pah” rhythm with low left-hand octaves and right hand after-beat chords.  In the second half of the phrase, the violin enters with brief imitation before joining the harmony.  The embellished cadence moves to B minor/major.
3:27 [m. 181]--Part 1 (a), varied repeat.  The violin now joins the main melody, doubling the cello an octave higher.  The viola’s harmony is more flowing, with constant triplets.  The cello abandons the melody in the second half that moves to B minor/major, allowing the violin to take it.  Instead, the cello plays a new counterpoint in straight rhythm, clashing with the triplets of the viola.
3:43 [m. 189]--Part 2.  Contrasting passage (b).  The piano leads this phrase, playing an ominous-sounding alteration of the melancholy theme, largely in octaves with steady detached bass notes.  It gradually works upward as the music moves back to E minor.  The strings provide soft chords at strategic high points, more concentrated at the end.  There is a very gradual rise in volume in preparation for the return.  An extra bar is added for this preparation, extending the phrase to nine bars.
3:58 [m. 198]--Return to the main portion (a’).  It is much louder and fuller than its first presentation.   The approach includes a mild syncopation in all the strings.  Although the violin doubles the cello on the main melody, it is actually closer to the initial statement than to the varied repeat, as the viola does not play its flowing accompaniment, but rather plays in block harmony with the violin/cello melody.  The cello abandons the melody only at the very end.  The right hand piano chords are more sustained, leaning from higher chords into lower ones during most of the bars.  Unusually, the motion to B minor/major is retained.
4:15 [m. 189]--Part 2 repeated.  Contrasting passage (b).
4:30 [m. 198]--Return to main portion (a’).  Brahms indicates a slowing and softening at the end of the repetition.
FOURTH CONTRASTING SECTION (B’) - G major
4:49 [m. 206]--Part 1 (a).  The main Presto tempo returns.  The material of the first contrasting section is presented in G major.  It is indicated to be played even more softly and lightly than before.  The running piano notes, previously doubled in octaves, are now played in harmony between the hands, mostly in close thirds.  The strings are plucked, as before.  The motion in the second phrase is to E minor (the related minor key to G major).  This is analogous to the B-flat--G minor motion in the first B section.  The piano left hand plays rolled chords on the weak beats of the last phrase.
4:58 [m. 218]--Part 2.  Contrasting passage (b).  The running notes are now transferred to the violin and cello, who play them in octaves.  Previously, they were in the piano throughout.  The viola rests for the entire phrase.  The piano adds an entirely new counterpoint that is based on the second contrasting section (C).  This includes some octave doubling between the hands, especially in the last half.  The three phrases are virtually identical in the strings (except for one note alteration in the last phrase), which is unexpected given the sequences of the first B section.  There is some variation in the second phrase of the piano.
5:07 [m. 230]--Instead of returning to the music of Part 1, the material of the contrasting passage is extended for another eight-bar group (two instead of three phrases).  The viola joins the running violin and cello, playing mostly in unison with the violin.  All three instruments occasionally jump an octave when one or both of the others do not.  The second phrase introduces the sequencing and variation that was absent in the previous passage.  The piano has continued its new counterpoint, adding syncopation.  In the second phrase, there is a dramatic crescendo, and in the last two bars, the piano erupts into a rapid downward-arching scale bridge in groups of six and seven notes.  This leads powerfully into the next section.
FIFTH CONTRASTING SECTION (C’) - G major (presumably Meno Presto)
5:13 [m. 238]--Part 1 (a).  After a new initial chord leading out of the previous section, the music is as it was at 2:27 [m. 155], with only minimal variation, mainly added double-stops in the strings.
5:20 [m. 244]--Part 2.  Contrasting passage (b).  The music is as at 2:42 [m. 161], but the parts of the strings and piano are exchanged.  The strings take the upward-striving material (beginning in unison but diverging at the end), the piano the “oom-pah” rhythm.
5:28 [m. 250]--Return to the main portion (a’).  The string and piano parts continue to be exchanged from the previous appearance at 2:49 [m. 167].  The piano has the “anticipatory” repeated notes.  Full, loud cadence in G major, as before.
THIRD RONDO THEME COMPLEX (A”) - Tempo I, G minor
The “Tempo I” presumably indicates that the previous C’ section was in the “Meno Presto” tempo. 
5:36 [m. 256]--This complex begins with the middle section (b).  The music is essentially identical to 0:22 [m. 31], with three differences: the piano adds another octave above on the half-steps, a trill is added to both piano and strings on these half-steps, and the piano chords under the scales are now played loudly.
5:41 [m. 262]--The first two three-bar units are identical to 0:27 [m. 37], except for the addition of string trills on the C-sharp--D half-steps.  The third three-bar unit, where the piano adds a bass in broken octaves, is set a half-step higher than it was in the first complex, adding tension and contrast.
5:48 [m. 271]--This is essentially identical to 0:35 [m. 46], except for some fuller chords in the piano bass and the lack of a softer dynamic for the piano chords under the scales.
5:53 [m. 277]--Identical to 0:40 [m. 52].
6:01 [m. 286]--Contrasting phrase from the main section in its more elaborate form, as at 0:47 [m. 61].  The ending is altered very slightly and abruptly cut off (in a one-chord extension), avoiding the rush  into the opening music of the main Rondo theme.
6:06 [m. 293]--The piano and strings play a loud, dissonant chord (a “ninth” chord).  Then the piano is given an unexpected cadenza.  There is a series of sixteen powerful descending groups, mostly in accented groups of six beginning with a lower note (except for the first two, which are shorter, and the last one, which is extended).  When the opening note reaches “middle D,” on the eighth group, it stalls there, the following groups becoming wider and continuing to reach downward.  These groups move steadily down the keyboard.  The last is extended to eleven notes plus a final low octave D, where the music pauses.  The cadenza is unmeasured, and notated as one bar.
DEVELOPMENTAL SECTION combining the music of various sections
6:20 [m. 294]--After the piano cadenza, the instrument drops out.  The following music is marked “Meno Presto.”  The strings alone play an imitative version of the music from the third contrasting section (D) in G minor.  The strings enter from high to low, violin, viola, then cello.  The counterpoint continues for the first half of the phrase.  In the second half, the cello leads the viola, then the violin in each of the first three bars.  The phrase is extended by one bar, to nine total.  At the end, the music moves to its original harmony and key areas of E and B.  It also becomes quieter.  The cello links to the next passage with a trill.
6:43 [m. 303]--The music is marked “Poco più Presto.”  It is from the first and fourth contrasting sections (B), and played by the piano alone.  There are two phrases, beginning in E minor.  The running scales in the right hand are not played as fast as in the B sections.  The left hand plays two arching arpeggios, then breaks into rising broken octaves.  After the two phrases and a crescendo, the piano plays a long, loud descending scale in one group of seven, then two groups of eight notes plus the final note, all notated over two bars.  The music has moved to F-sharp minor, and the scale ends on the “dominant” note of that key.
6:53 [m. 313]--The piano again drops out, and the strings present an imitative version of the music from the second and fifth contrasting sections (C).  The violin leads the viola and cello, who play together.  There is a six-bar passage in F-sharp minor.  Then there is a four-bar passage with shorter figures in A minor.
7:03 [m. 323]--The previous passage merges into a new set of imitations with the viola and cello now separated, the instruments entering top to bottom.  There are two three-bar sets of imitations.  These are followed by six one-bar groups where the viola and cello again enter together.  The music becomes steadily louder and faster and leads gradually back to the home key of G minor.
7:13 [m. 335]--Transition to coda.  The piano plays the scurrying music of B while the strings play figures reminiscent of C.  The piano enters surreptitiously as the previous passage ends.  There are three four-bar phrases, each one a fifth higher.  The piano bass, however, steadily plays broken octaves on D throughout.  The volume and speed steadily increase.  After the third phrase, a fourth one sequences two shorter units up two more steps as the intensity increases.  Then the piano breaks into cascading arpeggios on a fifth phrase, the strings punctuating the beat.
7:28 [m. 355]--The strings briefly drop out and the piano quiets down suddenly.  The pace is now very fast. The piano plays a series of four-note scale figures over a rapid crescendo.  The constant bass octave D’s have now moved down lower and are played at the same rate as the scales.  After one phrase, the strings enter on a powerful unison arpeggio for the last phrase and break into a trill over the piano scales.
FOURTH RONDO THEME COMPLEX (CODA) - Molto Presto
7:34 [m. 363]--At breakneck pace, the main Rondo theme enters after the arrival of the previous scales and trill.  It is essentially as at the beginning, but with the piano left hand slightly simplified to accommodate the speed.  All instruments are playing at full volume.
7:41 [m. 375]--The contrasting phrase begins, but after the first three-bar unit, a new such unit is inserted to build intensity as the piano bass settles on broken octaves.  Then there is a third unit (expanding the phrase to three of them) that is like the first one, but a third lower and with more forward momentum.
7:47 [m. 384]--The three-bar units are abandoned.  The piano right hand and violin break into two arching scales, then one purely ascending one, the piano playing in octaves.  The piano bass and cello thump on broken octaves, and the viola provides double-stop harmony.
7:51 [m. 390]--At the arrival point of the scales, the instruments all join in unison (the piano bass in octaves) and play a series of sequences based on the main Rondo theme, winding up for the close.  These continue for nine bars, retaining the spirit of the three-bar units.  The movement and the quartet are then closed by four powerful (harmonized) cadences.  The last one is held for two bars before cutting off sharply with a unison G.  Brahms notates a bar of rest after the cutoff, perhaps to create an eight-bar cadence unit (if the arrival point of the unison music--its ninth bar--is counted as the first bar of this unit).
8:10--END OF MOVEMENT [405 mm.]
END OF QUARTET



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