Recording: Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin; Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Herbert von Karajan [DG 415 569-2]

Published 1879.  Dedicated to Joseph Joachim.

Close on the heels of the Second Symphony followed another D-major orchestral work of monumental proportions.  The return to the concerto genre twenty years after the early First Piano Concerto was almost as overdue as his production of a first symphony.  As in that genre, another followed surprisingly closely, as the Second Piano Concerto was published two years later.  The great violinist Joseph Joachim was one of Brahms’s closest friends, and his figure has always loomed over the work. Brahms, who was not a string player, turned to Joachim for advice in figuration and other aspects of the solo part.  As far as the actual composition goes, there are elements of similarity to both piano concertos.  The first movement is on an epic scale.  Among his instrumental movements, only the first movement of Piano Concerto No. 1 is (usually) longer.  Brahms seems to emulate Beethoven to some extent here, as that composer’s only violin concerto also boasts a first movement lasting more than twenty minutes with a broad tempo.  The triple time and the general pastoral character also draw comparisons to the opening movement of his own recent Second Symphony.  The concerto was originally planned in an unusual four movements, but he finally settled on a single middle movement, the rather small but beautiful Adagio we know today.  As he would do with the cello in the slow movement of the Second Piano Concerto, he entrusted the first presentation of the main theme to another instrument, in this case the oboe--much to the annoyance of various virtuoso violinists.  The finale has an unmistakable “gypsy” flavor, a nod to Joachim’s Hungarian roots.  The tempo change at the end again invites comparison to a similar device at the end of the Second Piano Concerto.  For the only time in all his works, Brahms left part of a piece indeterminate.  Like Beethoven, he composed no solo cadenza for the first movement, leaving that task (apparently) to the performer after the standard chord and pause in the orchestra.  Despite the existence of many others, no cadenza comes close to Joachim’s in emulating the spirit of the work, and Brahms gave it his approval.  In my opinion, the Joachim cadenza is an integral part of the work’s identity, and no other should ever be played in performance.  His intimate connection to the piece and his presentation of it all across Europe give his contribution special provenance.

ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut Lübeck)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (from Breitkopf & Härtel Sämtliche Werke):
First Movement
Second Movement
Third Movement

1st Movement: Allegro non troppo (First movement concerto [Double exposition sonata] form).  D MAJOR, 3/4 time.
0:00 [m. 1]--Theme 1: A noble, but simple arching up and down the chord of D major in triple time.  It is presented by low strings, bassoons, and horns.  The oboes answer this initial presentation with a new, more harmonically active phrase over undulating string accompaniment.  This becomes quite dramatic.
0:31 [m. 17]--Transition.  Full strings and winds enter with a strong, angular unison idea leading to a syncopated descent.  This then breaks into harmony and builds up to a grand entrance of the entire orchestra, including trumpets and timpani, for a bold statement of Theme 1 with shimmering strings.  The violins lag behind the brass, creating a counterpoint of imitation  The theme now develops into leaping, exuberant syncopations, making a harmonic turn toward A major.
1:09 [m. 41]--Theme 2: The promise of a new key is averted by the oboe and horn, which present the second theme in D major (typical in a concerto orchestral exposition) after an abrupt cutoff.  It is more stepwise than Theme 1, and somewhat more melancholy.  The violins and flutes take over the theme with string and horn support, and extend it in quiet, winding harmonies.  These lead into an even quieter descent.
1:42 [m. 61]--Flute, clarinet, and bassoon descend in a wide four-note arpeggio on F-sharp and C-sharp.  Horns and timpani join them on the fourth note.  The winds then present a winding, flowing line, which is taken up by violins and violas.  This line turns to minor.  There follows a variant of Theme 2 in the minor key, with its elements split between winds and strings.  It becomes hushed before a bridging bass descent.
2:13 [m. 78]--Closing Theme in D minor.  The strings suddenly erupt into a powerful, martial idea with prominent dotted (long-short) rhythms.  The violins break into faster, arching notes under punctuating chords.  This merges into a series of churning descents from the upper strings against heavy syncopation in the low strings and winds.  These propel the music into the dramatic first entry of the soloist.
2:35 [m. 90]--Over a timpani roll and a held horn octave, the solo violin enters in the minor key with a cadenza-like passage that is improvisatory in nature.  Amid detached runs and arpeggios with double-stops are fragments of Theme 1.  The orchestral strings provide isolated interjections of the martial Closing Theme.  After incorporating several rhythms, the soloist then strives upward with shorter gestures.
2:57 [m. 102]--Against an orchestral chord, the soloist breaks into a series of downward arching arpeggios in groups of six.  The music quiets down, and the soloist widens the arpeggios to two beats in irregular groups of five notes.  At this point, the oboe enters with a descending line, which is taken over by the clarinet and bassoon.  The drum roll continues, but the horns now hold a third instead of an octave.
3:17 [m. 112]--The soloist’s arpeggios are now detached and in regular groups of four, still arching over two beats.  The flute enters with a line reminiscent of Theme 1.  This is taken over by the bassoon as the solo violin arpeggios become smooth again.  There is a turn back to the major key.
3:34 [m. 120]--The orchestral strings gently enter with suggestions of Theme 1 as the winds hold notes and the drum roll continues.  The solo violin finally abandons its arpeggios in favor of an oscillating motion that gradually moves downward with the orchestral strings.  It eventually slows down to winding triplets (groups of three) as the timpani roll finally ends.  The low strings, then the orchestral violins, slowly arch upward.
3:52 [m. 128]--The winds drop out and the orchestral strings hold a soft chord.  The solo violin winds downward, moving from triplets to groups of four.  It finally begins a steady upward scale that includes many chromatic half-steps.  This scale leaps down an octave twice before finally reaching its high point.  Brahms indicates a slowing here (rit.).  The soloist lingers on an arpeggio before leading into a sustained trill.  This trill marks the end of the improvisatory introductory section of the solo exposition.
4:19 [m. 136]--Theme 1.  The soloist presents it with light accompaniment, including arching viola arpeggios.  After the initial phrase, the soloist delays the continuation of the theme with another indulgence in leisurely scales and trills, including passages in triplet rhythm, over a soft string background.
5:02 [m. 152]--Theme 1 is finally allowed to continue.  The orchestral strings, first the violins, then the cellos and violas, play the phrase initially presented by the oboes at the beginning of the orchestral exposition.  The solo violin continues its decorations over this.  They are quite high and angular, again including scales arpeggios, and some triplet rhythm.  The phrase is extended slightly, shifting the last part upward, suggesting a change of key to A, the expected “dominant.”
5:25 [m. 164]--Transition.  In a passage similar in character to the unison at 0:31 [m. 17], the soloist plays angry chords in triple stops (three-string chords).  The top note of these chords (E) remains constant until the final ascent.  Below this, the low strings play the leaping octaves of the earlier unison idea.
5:36 [m. 170]--The soloist breaks into leaping oscillations that gradually move down and back up.  The strings continue the unison leaps of the transition.  They break off after a loud chord, leaving the soloist to gradually reach back up.  The triumphant statement of Theme 1 previously heard after this music is omitted.
5:50 [m. 178]--Theme 2: As the soloist continues the pattern of arpeggios, the flutes surreptitiously enter with the second theme.  It is now in the new “dominant” key (A major).  The soloist’s arpeggios slow down to a triplet rhythm, winding down and back up.  The orchestral violins take over Theme 2 from the flutes.  This follows the pattern of 1:09 [m. 41], with the extension and very quiet, winding harmonies and descent, but now doubled by a flute and decorated with the leaping triplets, now in octaves and fifths, of the violin.
6:26 [m. 198]--The wind instruments play their wide four-note descent, as at 1:42 [m. 61], now on C-sharp and G-sharp.  The winding, flowing line from the winds is taken over by the soloist instead of the orchestral strings and without the turn to minor.  The minor-key variant of Theme 2 is skipped.
6:41 [m. 206]--Theme 3: As is common in concertos, the soloist is given a new theme, usually described as “Theme 3,” in the solo exposition.  This beautifully emerges out of the winding, flowing line.  It features languid dotted rhythms and gently descending leaps, along with winding arpeggios.  It breaks into a series of wide leaps as great as a tenth, supported by double stops.  It is supported by slow-moving wind chords and plucked (pizzicato) arpeggios from the orchestral strings.  The orchestral violins (bowed, not plucked) begin the “winding, flowing line” against the soloist’s leaps, which are now somewhat syncopated, reaching across bar lines.
6:58 [m. 214]--The orchestral violins take over Theme 3, the soloist adding decorations before it again leads with the wide leaps.  These again become mildly syncopated and are now significantly extended as the winds drop out and the plucked string background is reduced to isolated notes.  The soloist then breaks into even wider, higher leaps as the winds re-enter and the music turns to the minor key (A minor).  Finally, the soloist is isolated in a chromatic descent that is closed by a slow, turning gesture.
7:48 [m. 236]--Somewhat unexpectedly, the orchestral strings begin the minor-key variant of Theme 2 that was previously heard before the Closing Theme in the orchestral exposition and was cut off here by the entry of Theme 3.  The soloist joins in presenting the elements of that variant with double stops.  All of Theme 3 can now be seen as a wholesale insertion.  There is the same hushed, bridging bass descent.
8:09 [m. 246]--Closing Theme, now presented by the soloist in triple stops (in A minor).  The orchestral strings join in right before the long, arching descent, also now taken by the soloist, as are the following short “churning” descents.  The orchestral strings provide light, but syncopated accompaniment.
8:33 [m. 260]--The winds loudly enter, and the soloist briefly drops out.  The low strings take over the “churning” descents.  The winds then drop out and the soloist adds a new ascending, syncopated chromatic line in octave double stops against the continuing “churning,” now passed to the orchestral violins. 
8:43 [m. 266]--The strings break into punctuating chords as the soloist merges into two large descents in triplets.  The soloist then reaches very high for a final rapid descending scale as the winds enter with an unstable, sustained chord.  The soloist turns around and rushes upward, leaping down once before continuing, demanding a response from the orchestra.
8:56 [m. 272]--The soloist drops out as the “solo exposition” ends.  The orchestra, complete with a timpani roll, responds to the previous passage with two emphatic chords and a passionate minor-key outburst of Theme 1 (the key is still A minor).  It is developed with syncopation, arching arpeggios and triplet rhythms.  The winds, joined by strings, provide punctuations based on the Closing Theme. 
9:11 [m. 280]--The music turns to C major, the related major key to A minor, for a further statement of this “passionate” Theme 1 variant.  The punctuations based on the Closing Theme are heard again, and are extremely emphatic.
9:25 [m. 288]--The orchestral violins joyously develop Theme 3 in C major, complete with the accompanying plucked arpeggios. They alternate with the winds, who play the variant of Theme 2 initially heard before the closing Theme, now in major.  Both ideas are heard twice in alternation.  The second statement of Theme 3 is an octave lower and quieter.  On its second statement, the Theme 2 variant turns back to the minor key, its “natural” home, now limited to soft clarinets and bassoons, joined by low strings.
9:55 [m. 304]--The solo violin makes its first entry in the development.  It continues the minor-key variant of Theme 2 in C minor.  It breaks into double stops as the orchestral strings provide a syncopated background with slow-moving and repeated notes.  The passage is filled with quiet intensity.
10:12 [m. 312]--In a passage marked “tranquillo,” still in C minor, the wind instruments pass a descending line derived from the Theme 2 variant, beginning with the oboe and moving to bassoon and clarinet.  The soloist begins a continuous rhythm of short-short-long figures beginning on upbeats.  These move mostly by step, but there are shifts in register.  The short notes often turn under the preceding long note and back.
10:29 [m. 320]--The short-short-long line continues in the solo violin, but now it gradually slides upward on the long notes.  A brief downward leap happens before the violin line jumps high again and gradually works down, all in the same continuous rhythm.  It then works its way up twice more.  The descending line derived from the Theme 2 variant is now in the orchestral strings.  These strings die away, leaving the soloist to continue the short-short-long groups alone for two bars, culminating in a descending arpeggio.
10:55 [m. 332]--Still in C minor, the solo violin begins a long ascending broken chord, sustaining a trill throughout the ascent (the neighboring trill notes are carefully indicated).  The orchestral strings incorporate the short-short-long rhythm under this.  Fast arching arpeggios in groups of six begin after the ascending trill.  The strings reach a large cadence in C minor.
11:10 [m. 340]--The soloist drops out as the full orchestra begins a development of the short-short-long figure.  Finally, the music moves away from C minor.  The short-short-long figures become more static, and the music seems to have slid up to C-sharp minor, but a loud chord of A minor from the winds diverts this as the short-short-long figures finally end.
11:25 [m. 348]--The A-minor chord is quietly repeated.  The soloist begins a series of wide two-note leaps slurred and bowed across bar lines.  These work down and back up five times.  They vaguely suggest Theme 3.  There is light accompaniment from strings and bassoons.  The violins, low strings, and bassoons play leaps resembling the transition.  The violas play pulsating triplets.  The entire passage works from A minor back to the home key of D.  After the fifth descent and ascent from the soloist (reaching the highest notes), there is a final descent anticipating the arrival on D, which is delayed.
11:49 [m. 361]--The soloist plays the martial rhythm of the Closing Theme in octaves.  The strings all play in thick tremolo.  As the winds enter, the solo violin’s octaves shift to music from Theme 1 that resembles the soloist’s initial improvisatory passage.  The alternation of these two elements happens a second time.  This time, the Theme 1 music intensifies in preparation for the re-transition.  
12:11 [m. 373]--Re-transition.  The solo violin, after a leap in the rhythm of the Closing Theme, breaks into rapid “churning notes.”  The string tremolos continue, as does a drum roll.  Horns and other winds imitate the soloist’s large leap.  The solo violin itself repeats the large octave leap, then continues the descending “churning” figures.  The strings, timpani, and most winds drop out as the soloist begins a wide sweeping descent and ascent culminating in a high sustained note.  At that point, the winds begin a winding line that slows slightly over a powerful crescendo and timpani roll.  The solo violin slowly descends.
12:27 [m. 381]--Theme 1, presented triumphantly from the full orchestra including trumpets.  The orchestra enters suddenly after the preceding crescendo.  The winds and brass mainly present the theme, the strings remaining in tremolo with arching motion from the violins.  After the initial phrase, there is a brief pause, then an echo with plucked strings and winds.   The following violin bridge is much abbreviated from the scales and trills before 5:02 [m. 152] and now with wind and plucked string background.
12:50 [m. 393]--Continuation of Theme 1.  The phrase initially presented by the oboes is presented a fourth higher than in either exposition, partly as a result of the previous shorter bridge.  This allows Brahms to continue the music in the pattern of the solo exposition at 5:02 [m. 152] while remaining in the home key.  There are some changes.  The high solo violin presents the first part of the phrase with clarinet and orchestral violins.  The horns now play the continuation that had been played by violas and cellos.  Over this, the flute takes the first part of the original decorations, which the soloist takes over after two bars.
13:14 [m. 405]--Transition, as at 5:25 [m. 164].  The top note of the triple stops is A instead of E.  The register has shifted, so the music is now a fifth lower (rather than a fourth higher) than the solo exposition.
13:25 [m. 411]--Leaping oscillations, as at 5:36 [m. 170].
13:39 [m. 419]--Surreptitious entry of Theme 2, as at 5:50 [m. 178].  This time, the oboes play it instead of the flutes as the soloist continues the arpeggios and breaks into triplets.  After the orchestral violins take over, the flute and oboe enter, doubling them.  Perhaps in “compensation,” the flute does not double the violins on the extension.  They hold a note with the oboe and horns over the descent of quiet, winding harmonies.  Because of what follows, this extension is two bars shorter, with an earlier bassoon entry.
14:12 [m. 437]--Here is a major break from both expositions.  Since Theme 2 was in D major, as in the orchestral exposition, the four-note wind descent might have been expected on its pitches there at 1:42 [m. 61]--F-sharp and C-sharp.  Instead, they enter two bars earlier than in the solo exposition on the unexpected notes G and D.  Not only that, but they are condensed to two bars by much shorter, unequal notes.  There follows a quiet, ominous two bars over a timpani roll with an added octave of G-D wind descent.
14:21 [m. 441]--Because of the altered wind descent, the key is unexpectedly shifted for the winding, flowing line.  It is now in F-sharp major, where Theme 3 will be heard.  The winds do not play it this time, as it is passed from the orchestral strings (under a held wind chord) to the solo violin.
14:29 [m. 445]--Theme 3, as at 6:41 [m. 206].  For variety, Brahms sets the solo portion in the key of F-sharp major, rather than remaining in the home key, as would be expected.
14:45 [m. 453]--Theme 3 is taken over by the orchestral violins, as at 6:58 [m. 214].  The solo violin briefly drops out here.  This is because the statement is extended in a sort of “restart” with a dramatic turn to the home key of D major on a higher entry.  After the home key is re-established, the music follows as before, with the wide leaps from the soloist (who re-enters), the turn to the minor key, and the isolated chromatic descent with a slow, closing turn figure from the soloist.
15:43 [m. 479]--Minor-key variant of Theme 2, as at 7:48 [m. 236].  The bass descent is abbreviated by two bars.
16:01 [m. 487]--Closing Theme, as at 8:09 [m. 246], but in the home minor key (D minor), as in the orchestral exposition at 2:13 [m. 78].  The patterns and continuations are as in the solo exposition.
16:25 [m. 501]--Entry of the winds, “churning” descents in the orchestral strings, and new syncopated octave double stops in the solo violin, as at 8:33 [m. 260].
16:35 [m. 507]--As at 8:43 [m. 266], the soloist breaks into two descents in triplets.  The following high leap, descent, and ascent is similar, but with somewhat different figuration and divisions of notes and two interrupting descending leaps in the middle of the “ascent” rather than one.  As before, it demands an orchestral response.
16:47 [m. 513]--The orchestral response is not like the beginning of the Development section, but rather a reference to the triumphant statement of Theme 1 from the orchestral exposition after 0:31 [m. 17].  It turns abruptly to the key of B-flat major.  The passage is abbreviated, moving back to D major and coming to a grand pause on the chord (the so-called “six-four”) that traditionally signaled the soloist’s “improvised” cadenza [m. 525].  This conventional, established device is not used in Brahms’s other three concertos.
CADENZA by Joseph Joachim (approved by Brahms)--measure numbers are preceded by “C.”
17:13 [m. C1]--Arching arpeggios, octave double stops and triplet rhythms are used in an initial reference to Theme 1.  This then breaks into the smooth, wide leaps with held lower notes that are familiar from Theme 3, also incorporating double stops and counterpoint.  This builds in volume.
17:34 [m. C13]--Strong dotted rhythms in double stops derived from the Closing Theme.  These leap up and back down, then become almost playful before quieting down, settling on G major.
17:50 [m. C22]--A smooth, expressive passage with double stop sixths and thirds.  It slows down and turns to the related minor key of G major, E minor.  The passage is derived from the music at 9:55 [m. 304] in the Development section.
18:09 [m. C31]--Extended passage using the short-short-long rhythm heard in much of the Development section.  Triple stop chords are used as punctuations.  The passage begins in E minor, then moves to D minor.  The intensity builds.  Triple stops begin to be used on every “long” note, with strong accents.  There is a suggestion of a motion to the related key of F major.
18:36 [m. C43]--Rapid, oscillating arpeggios incorporating double stops, beginning in F major and moving to G minor.
18:49 [m. C53]--The motion is arrested with winding, melancholy lines.  These initially incorporate double and triple stops.  They then move to A minor as the violin reaches high.  A faster flourish is interrupted, then hesitantly repeated.
19:05 [m. C61]--The preceding flourish is developed into a passage of rapid, but quiet motion.  Motion back to the home key of D major/minor.
19:13 [m. C68]--A long series of trills, initially leaping down three octaves then back up two.  The trills then move up chromatically.  Leaping figures enter in counterpoint to the trill on other strings.  The culmination is in a long trill on the note E.  A long trill normally signifies the end of the cadenza, but this trill is not on the note designated by Brahms (not Joachim), which is C-sharp.
19:29 [m. C75]--The final passage of the cadenza is quite serene.  Winding triplets expand to groups of four notes in a descent.  There are then two scale ascents, the second one longer and more drawn out, with slower notes at the end.  Then a final slowing and descent onto the trill on C-sharp indicated by Brahms, which moves smoothly onto the home keynote D to end the cadenza.  The last bar of the cadenza (m. C82, with the trill) corresponds to m. 526 in Brahms’s score--the grand pause on the “six four” chord was m. 525.
20:01 [m. 527]--The orchestral strings, horns and bassoons gently enters as the soloist slides out of the cadenza, playing an extremely lovely, almost transfigured version of Theme 1, harmonized by the orchestra.  The theme is extended, reaching very high in the solo violin.  Other wind instruments enter, and the clarinet, then the oboe, provide counterpoint to the high solo violin.  All of this is directly derived from Theme 1.  There is a turn to G major.
21:03 [m. 548]--A soft horn call leads to a passage of winding triplets from the solo violin, still at a very soft level.  The orchestra provides a background of soft, held chords.
21:13 [m. 552]--The soft horn call is again heard as the music makes its final turn back to D major.  The winding triplets begin again in the solo instrument.  These are mixed with straight rhythms, suddenly and rapidly increasing in volume and more gradually increasing in speed.  Two more louder horn calls are heard.  The soloist, after reaching quite high, has a loud, cascading arpeggio.
21:28 [m. 559]--Brahms marks the final passage animato.  The soloist plays double stops beginning off the beat that are reminiscent of Theme 1.  The horn calls continue with wide ascents from the other wind instruments.  The orchestral strings begin a steady march.  These elements increase even more in volume and intensity before coming together on a sharp chord.  Three more sharp, detached chords and a final held chord punctuated by a drum roll close the movement.
22:00--END OF MOVEMENT [571 mm. (+81 cadenza mm.)]

2nd  Movement: Adagio (Ternary form).  F MAJOR, 2/4 time.
A Section--F major
0:00 [m. 1]--A third from the bassoons and an octave from horns lead into the long melody presented by the principal oboe.  Its opening descent is the main hallmark of the melody, as is a long-short-short rhythm.  The strings do not play at all.  The accompaniment comes from the other wind instruments (flutes, clarinets, bassoons, and horns).  The first major period of the melody ends with a bridge from the second oboe.
1:05 [m. 15]--The principal oboe begins the melody anew, breaking into a variation.  The winds continue to be the only accompaniment to the melody.
1:39 [m. 21]--The oboe begins a series of extending gestures with ascending arpeggios from bassoon, then horn and clarinet.  Finally, the principal flute responds with a lightly syncopated answering phrase before the winds end the closed opening section.  The orchestral strings unobtrusively enter under the last chords.
2:26 [m. 32]--As the winds end with a last chord, the solo violin makes its entrance.  It plays a highly decorated variant of the oboe melody, with soaring lines.  The accompaniment is now primarily from the orchestral strings, the wind instruments providing occasional isolated echoing interjections.  The solo violin becomes increasingly chromatic, suggesting a motion to D minor as the horns, then flutes enter with echoing calls.  The soloist eventually settles on the new key of C major with a trill.
3:30 [m. 46]--Transition.  The cadence on C major is interrupted by the winds, who abruptly enter on the unexpected key of G-flat, a half-step above the main key of F.  The material is from the end of the first section of the oboe melody (before 1:05 [m. 15]).  The winds descend, then the strings respond.  The soloist then comes in with another highly decorated phrase, still in G-flat.  The strings, then winds, play the ascending bridge to the B section.
B Section--F-sharp minor
3:59 [m. 52]--G-flat is the same note as F-sharp.  Major shifts to minor with a change of notation.  The solo violin plays a passionate, decorative descending line that only gradually settles into the minor key.  The orchestral strings, with syncopated interjections from the winds, then take over from the soloist as the music swells in intensity and becomes broader, with an emphatic cadence in F-sharp minor.  The material is derived from the main melody.
4:21 [m. 56]--The soloist plays an extremely expressive descending line, with accompaniment from the orchestral strings.  The solo instrument then leaps high before descending again.  The orchestral violins incorporate triplets in their accompaniment.
4:41 [m. 60]--The soloist breaks into triplet rhythms.  The winds play descending lines derived from the main theme.  The violin emerges into a faster ascending filigree before a brief pause.
5:03 [m. 64]--Beginning with an upbeat, the soloist begins an even more decorative passage that incorporates leaps, turns, and triplet rhythms, still in F-sharp minor.  The orchestral strings provide an accompaniment with some syncopations and triplet rhythms.  The winds are completely absent here.  At the end of the passage, the soloist leads a turn back to the major mode on F-sharp.
5:28 [m. 69]--Re-transition.  The soloist, with its continuing decorative lines, leads a dynamic passage that gradually moves back to the home key.  The orchestral strings accompany with the descending lines from the main melody.  After departing from F-sharp, the low strings gradually slide up to F major through minor keys on B, C, and D.  The solo violin reaches ever higher.
5:58 [m. 75]--The soloist reaches the highest note as F major arrives.  The bassoons and horns have unobtrusively entered.  Over oscillations in the strings, the soloist descends, leading back into the return of the main oboe melody.
A' Section--F major
6:17 [m. 78]--The main theme is presented, again from the oboe with wind accompaniment.  This time, the solo violin provides oscillating decorations.  The melody is briefly passed to the violin and its version as the orchestral strings enter.  The melody then returns to the oboe and the orchestral strings drop out.  It largely follows the pattern of the opening except for the changes in scoring and the decorations from the soloist.  At the bridge passage ending the first major period, the strings again enter briefly before the winds take over again.  The horn takes the last bridging notes as the soloist plays an ascending arpeggio as a lead-in.
7:15 [m. 91]--The soloist takes over in a new extension that is extremely expressive and even breathtaking, with great emotional intensity.  It is played with a highly melodious counterpoint from the horn.  The orchestral strings provide an accompaniment of dramatic plucked ascending arpeggios.  As the soloist again reaches florid heights, the orchestra unexpectedly drops out.  The soloist plays a descending line alone.
8:01 [m. 101]--The oboe re-enters with the original closing extension of the main theme.  The violin continues its decorations with ascending arpeggios in triplet rhythm, then isolated two-note off-beat ascents.  Other than one cello phrase heard as the oboe enters, the orchestral strings are again absent.
8:31 [m. 107]--The winds, except horns, drop out as the solo violin takes over from the oboe.  With accompaniment from the orchestral strings, the soloist brings the melody to its close, as before 2:26 [m. 32].  Only the bassoons and horns enter unobtrusively from the wind section, the entire passage otherwise being transferred to strings.
9:04 [m. 113]--Flutes and clarinets join the bassoons, horns, and low strings on a gentle dissonance.  Only the oboes (perhaps ironically) are absent.  The solo violin descends, then rises in an arpeggio before a final high descent in a closing tag  The instruments resolve onto the last F-major chord, where the oboes join them.  The strings echo the isolated descending notes of the melody’s original close.
9:41--END OF MOVEMENT [116 mm.]

3rd Movement: Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo vivace--Poco più presto (Rondo form).  D MAJOR, 2/4 time, with two 3/4 insertions.
0:00 [m. 1]--The gypsy-inspired Rondo theme is played by the solo violin in double stops (with one accented four-note rolled chord).  The orchestral strings accompany with arpeggios in triplet rhythm as well as marching alternation between low and higher strings.  The theme resembles a peasant dance with its “stamping” persistence.  The end of the main phrase makes a turn to the related key of B minor.  Leading into the next statement, the orchestral violins and violas play a sweeping scale.
0:13 [m.9]--The soloist drops out as the theme is given to the wind instruments.  The strings play fast triplet rhythms with repeated notes.  The low strings and timpani add punctuation.  The solo violin enters at the end with a descending scale run to lead into the next passage.
0:24 [m. 17]--In a sort of “bridge” passage, the solo violin plays a variant of the theme that begins in B minor, following the cadence of the main phrase in that key.  It then spins the theme out with development in parallel thirds and sixths.  The strings provide a marching accompaniment, while flute and oboe play a jaunty countermelody, later joined by clarinet and bassoon.  The soloist’s figures develop into arching arpeggios in double notes, moving steadily back to D major against an insistently ominous bass.
0:38 [m. 27]--Again, the soloist drops out and the full orchestra gives the theme its grandest presentation, led by the strings, the winds providing swaying accompaniment figures.  In addition to adding some syncopation and “hemiola” (implied 3/8 bars against the prevailing 2/4 meter), the orchestra not only extends the cadence by one bar, but avoids the motion to B minor for a triumphant, affirming arrival on D.
0:49 [m. 35]--Transition.  Corresponding with the orchestra’s cadence, the violin enters immediately with arching triplet arpeggios.  The orchestra plays isolated two-chord upbeat gestures from the flute/oboe countermelody in the bridge passage from 0:24 [m. 17].  The violin arpeggios become more fluid and connected as the winds, then horns drop out.
1:00 [m. 43]--Transition, continued.  The violin’s figures develop into downward leaps to repeated notes.  The accompanying orchestral gestures retain the two-note upbeat pattern, but they become faster and are passed between the string instruments.  Motion to A major.  The violin then plays a long, winding series of scales against punctuating plucked chords.  The scales become louder and faster, leaping down to rapid ascents before arching down to an emphatic arrival as the winds enter again.
FIRST CONTRASTING THEME (B)--A major and F-sharp minor
1:19 [m. 57]--The theme begins with ascending double-stop scales in dotted rhythm from the soloist.  The low strings and bassoons respond to this by reversing the scales in a descending line.  The soloist continues with the theme, which has a prominent syncopated leap, then continues to soar very high, still incorporating the dotted rhythm.  The orchestra has strong tremolo shakes in the upper strings and downward leaping octaves in the lower strings.  The soloist breaks into ascending arpeggios using chromatic (non-key) notes, then rapidly descends.
1:42 [m. 73]--The orchestra takes the theme, the low strings and bassoons playing the soloist’s former ascending dotted rhythm, the violins responding with the descent.  The timpani begins a long roll, and there are loud wind chords.  As the orchestra continues, the soloist adds prominent ascending interjections with double and triple stops.  The orchestra turns the ascending dotted theme to the related minor key, F-sharp, where it breaks into two-note ascents, then a strong cadence whose emphatic repetitions lead back to the main Rondo Theme in D major.
2:11 [m. 93]--The orchestra makes an artful turn back to D major in the reiterations of the preceding cadence.  The Rondo Theme slides in under these reiterations, then the soloist’s presentation is as at the opening.
2:22 [m. 101]--The orchestral response begins as before, but quickly takes a detour with fragments passed between strings and winds.  The music turns to another related key (the “subdominant”), G major.
2:33 [m. 108]--In a transition to the Second Contrasting Theme, the flutes, clarinets, and bassoons play fragments from the opening of the Rondo Theme in G major.  The solo violin plays ascending arpeggios against this in triplet rhythm (in groups of six).  The fragments are passed to the orchestral strings, and the soloist breaks into long arching arpeggios, still in groups of six notes up and then down.  The arpeggios slow down, leading into the contrasting theme.
SECOND CONTRASTING THEME (C)--G major, 3/4 and 2/4 time.
2:53 [m. 120]--The meter changes to 3/4.  The soloist leads a new tune that is like a more pastoral dance.  The strings provide light accompaniment.  The soloist breaks into light, very tender and gentle syncopation.
3:03 [m. 124]--The meter briefly changes back to 2/4 for a brief insertion of the Rondo Theme fragments from 2:33 [m. 108], entering abruptly in a new key, B major.  Strings play the fragments, winds and the soloist alternate on the arpeggios (the winds play them in “straight” rhythm against the fragments).  There is further motion from B major to E major.
3:09 [m. 128]--Back in 3/4 meter, the oboe plays the pastoral dance tune in E major while the soloist adds a decorating counterpoint.  The horns play accompanying harmonies.  There is yet another harmonic motion, down to C major, where the flute and clarinet play the pastoral dance against continuing solo violin decorations.  The soloist emerges into the light, gentle syncopations heard before, and they are extended.
3:28 [m. 136]--The soloist plays an expressive new phrase in minor.  It is G minor, so the music has moved back to the main key center of this central section.  The new phrase is immediately repeated an octave lower before a brief extension.  The orchestra, which has provided light accompaniment to this melancholy phrase, breaks in with sharply accented, detached notes.
3:46 [m. 143]--The music abruptly shifts back to 2/4 time.  The soloist unexpectedly merges into the ending of the transition from before the First Contrasting Theme (the long, winding series of scales over punctuating plucked chords).  The passage is altered at the end, where the rapid descents are inverted and are now rapid descents.  The passage is ambiguous in key, but settles back in G major.
FIRST CONTRASTING THEME (B’)--G major and B minor
3:56 [m. 150]--Unexpectedly, the First Contrasting Theme is reprised without another return of the Rondo Theme.  It is in G major, the main key of the second contrasting section.  It is scored as in its first appearance, with the soloist in double-stop octaves, playing in dotted rhythm, the low strings and bassoons responding with descending motion.  Other than key, there are no major differences from 1:19 [m. 57].
4:19 [m. 166]--Orchestral response, largely as at 1:42 [m. 73], with the same interjections from the soloist.  There is a slight extension after this, so that the two-note ascents are not in the expected key of E minor (which would have been analogous to the previous relationship), but in B minor, the minor key most closely related to the home key of D major.  The emphatic cadence with its repetitions is sidestepped by interrupting descents in groups of six notes from the solo violin.  These lead the music in a new direction.
4:48 [m. 187]--Re-transition.  In another unexpected return, the music of the “bridge” passage from 0:24 [m. 17] returns.  That passage had begun in B minor, where the music has now moved as well.  It begins as an exact return, but is altered after four bars and greatly extended.  The jaunty countermelody is passed to the violins, the marching accompaniment to clarinets and bassoons.  The soloist’s figures move away from double stops, but the arpeggios become wider and more emphatic.  Motion to the home key of D major.
5:10 [m. 203]--Climactic and triumphant arrival of the Rondo Theme, played by the full orchestra.  It has a great effect due to its relatively long absence.  The arrival is similar to that at 0:38 [m. 27], but the scoring is very different.  The winds now play the main theme material, while the strings play the original ascending arpeggios.  The “hemiola” from the previous passage is included.  The music moves in the same direction before it is extended at length, with new double-stop arpeggios from the “invading” soloist and a greater buildup of intensity over a detour to G major and back.  The cadence seems even more emphatic due to this extension, but it is interrupted.
5:38 [m. 222]--The expected arrival is interrupted by a pause.  The soloist then enters with a rhapsodic passage in rich harmony, using multiple stops.  It is like a cadenza, but the violins, then the other strings surreptitiously enter after four bars.  The soloist moves to triplet rhythm over this, creating a clash with the strings in straight rhythm.  The oboe and horns now enter unobtrusively with syncopations, followed by the other winds.  The soloist then breaks from the rhapsody into rapid arpeggios and trills.
6:00 [m. 236]--Under a long trill from the soloist, the strings hesitantly play upbeat figures from the Rondo Theme.  The soloist’s trills and arpeggios continue, as do the tentative Rondo Theme entrances from the strings and syncopations from the winds.  Finally, the soloist’s trills, which had been on the same note (E), move up chromatically (by half-step).
6:14 [m. 245]--The flutes and clarinets, intertwining with the strings, play music reminiscent of the First Contrasting Theme, with the ascending dotted rhythm.  After two more long trills, the soloist joins in this derivative music as well.  Then, the soloist moves again to rapid figuration in groups of six while the orchestral strings play Rondo Theme fragments.
6:29 [m. 255]--The soloist, playing with great intensity, returns to the Rondo Theme material, only accompanied by thumping timpani, punctuating horns in octaves, and a long held note in the low strings.  The winds enter unobtrusively with a chord, then the strings join on a much louder one, everything coming to a pause.  This loud chord is the “six-four” heard before a cadenza, and the soloist plays a very brief unmeasured cadenza after the pause, largely a series of descending arpeggios reaching ever lower before slowing down in preparation for the coda.
CODA--Poco più presto
6:58 [m. 267]--In a faster tempo, the music essentially moves to a joyously swinging 6/8 meter.  It continues to be notated in 2/4 with triplets because of certain passages in the straight rhythm.  The clarinet and bassoon, later the flute and oboe, play rapid turns.  The timpani and low strings provide a solid bass.  Then the soloist enters with a transformed version of the Rondo Theme using the triplet (or 6/8) rhythm.  The orchestral violins then also play the rapid turns.  The full orchestra enters with a loud interjection.
7:08 [m. 279]--The soloist again plays the transformed Rondo Theme, now an octave higher, against the established accompaniment.  The theme is extended and intensified, fully exploiting the swing of the triplet groups.  The full orchestra again interjects.  The strings move in unison to two mildly dissonant notes, providing a lead-in to the next passage.
7:20 [m. 293]--Beginning with an upbeat, this passage is derived from the First Contrasting Theme.  The soloist plays a version of the dotted ascents with continuous notes in “straight” rhythm, breaking the triplet (or “6/8”) motion.  The winds play descents in dotted rhythm.  The descents are heard against the soloist’s ascents, rather than responding to them.  The orchestral strings continue the rapid turn figures, which begin to be the unifying element of the coda.  These turn figures finally end, moving to slower chords as the oboe begins a prominent doubling of the main notes in the soloist’s continuing figuration.
7:31 [m. 304]--The triplet (or 6/8) rhythm is again established by the soloist, who moves away from the contrasting material, and the accompaniment with the turn figures is again established.  The full orchestra interjects as it had twice before, moving again to mildly dissonant unison notes.  These are extended to four, with winds entering in harmony above the last two.
7:43 [m. 316]--The material from the First Contrasting Theme is heard again, now in G major, a key that has been prominent throughout the movement.  The strings now play the dotted descents, and the turn figure is absent.  The soloist leads the way, finally emerging again into the triplets by itself, back in D major.
7:54 [m. 327]--The orchestra now enters powerfully in the triplet (6/8) rhythm, with descents based on the Rondo Theme.  The soloist responds with syncopated double and triple stops, then a rapid ascending scale.  This pattern is repeated, but the entry of the winds over a drum roll, with the orchestral strings echoing the syncopations of the soloist, delays the rapid scale.
8:07 [m. 339]--The orchestra reaches a large cadence.  The soloist emerges with fragments of the Rondo Theme, still in the triplet rhythm, alternating with the timpani beats.  Against this, the winds play a highly chromatic descent in clashing “straight” rhythm.  The violins and cellos hold a prolonged note.  Everything becomes gradually quieter.  Brahms naturally slows things by having the soloist move to straight rhythm at the end over plucked low strings and isolated timpani beats.  Then the full orchestra plays three loud chords, the last one held with a drum roll, ending the movement and the concerto.
8:28--END OF MOVEMENT [347 mm.]