Recording: Itzhak Perlman, violin and Daniel Barenboim, piano (live performance) [Sony SK 45819]

Published 1880

Brahms’s first published sonata for piano and violin is a product of the high maturity, while the other two are late works.  It was composed in the wake of the Violin Concerto, one of his largest projects, and indeed was presented complete to Joseph Joachim while his violinist friend was still helping him work out the bowings in the concerto.  The chamber work can be seen as a complementary offering to the concerto, but it has no formal dedication.  It is a sunny, radiant work that has a relaxed character throughout.  The first movement has a broad 6/4 meter with much potential for rhythmic games such as cross groupings.  The third movement, whose minor key is unexpected in such a bright piece, explicitly uses material from the two paired songs Regenlied and Nachklang from Op. 59, particularly their accompaniment.  It turns out that the material of the songs, especially the opening rhythm, is the inspiration for the other two movements as well.  The finale also uses the beautiful main theme of the slow second movement for one of its contrasting episodes.  Brahms did use such cyclic references to previous movements in other works, such as the Third Symphony (Op. 90) and the last string quartet (Op. 67), but this is the most extensive example.  The finale’s turn to the major key at the end has a magical effect and mitigates the agitated minor-key character of its main portion.  The three-movement structure (instead of four) was less common for Brahms in chamber works, and may also reflect the influence of the concerto.  It is nonetheless the longest of the three violin sonatas in terms of performance time, even though the third, Op. 108, has four movements.  There were several earlier attempts at a violin sonata that were destroyed.  We know of at least one in A minor from the 1850s that he considered for his earliest publications along with the piano sonatas and the early songs, but then rejected.

The recording used in this guide was made from a 1989 live performance in Chicago.

ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut Lübeck)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (from Breitkopf & Härtel Sämtliche Werke--includes violin part; title given in Russian)

1st Movement: Vivace ma non troppo (Sonata-Allegro form).  G MAJOR, 6/4 time.
0:16 [m. 1]--(After 15 seconds of applause).  Theme 1.  The piano plays long chords lasting half a bar.  Against this, the violin spins out a mezza voce melody, initially in brief fragments, based on the long-short (dotted) rhythm of the Regenlied songs.  This develops into a twofold sequence of downward arching leaps followed by rising scales with many chromatic notes and half-steps.  The piano chords also move to more colorful harmonies.  At the end of the phrase, the violin scale descends and the piano begins to join it.
0:42 [m. 11]--The piano and violin begin to play in cross rhythm grouping fostered by the long 6/4 bars.  The piano plays arpeggios in contrary motion between the hands.  They are organized in two groups per bar (with an added layer of complexity within each group--two subgroups of three notes each).  The violin plays an arching dotted rhythm arranged in three groups per bar.  This line begins with a strong suggestion of key of B major, but it eventually moves through B minor and back to G major.  This builds from a very tranquil beginning to a climax where the violin begins to hold long descending notes while diminishing.
1:05 [m. 21]--Transition.  The violin plays the dotted-rhythm opening gesture of Theme 1 against the continuing piano arpeggios.  It then arches down and up while the piano left hand moves in the opposite direction.  The piano then takes over the Theme 1 gesture and downward arch.  The violin continues with the music of Theme 1 while the piano plays with the characteristic descending figures heard at the theme’s opening.  This builds to another climax.
1:15 [m. 25]--The “downward arching” leaps from Theme 1 are used at the climax in both instruments.  They are then spun out toward a descending violin arpeggio.  The piano then quiets, taking over the Theme 1 gestures, echoed by left hand rhythms reminiscent of the accompaniment from the Regenlied songs.  The violin now plays long double-stops reminiscent of the piano’s opening long chords.  This passage moves to the “dominant” key of D major.  Syncopated octaves in the piano right hand lead to the second theme.
1:42 [m. 36]--Theme 2.  While it still uses the dotted rhythm, it is more lyrical and less hesitant, with all beats filled out with notes.  The violin presents it, with downward-winding arpeggios in the piano.  The violin plays the four-bar melody twice, the second time an octave higher and doubled by the piano’s top voice.  In the last bar of each statement, the piano has a 3x2 cross-rhythm grouping or hemiola (D major).
2:01 [m. 44]--The second part of Theme 2 is more striving and aggressive, with strong syncopations and sweeping piano arpeggios.  It builds in two waves to the climactic phrase, which is itself organized into two more waves separated by a piano punctuation.  The second of these soars upward and descends.  Under a longer violin note, punctuating piano chords rapidly diminish in volume after this climax.
2:25 [m. 55]--A reminiscence of Theme 1, with shorter repeated chords in the piano, dies down and reaches a cadence in D major.
2:41 [m. 60]--Closing material.  The violin plays an isolated note right after the cadence and then the piano unexpectedly takes up a new theme in chords in the key of B major (heard briefly in Theme 1), played in the middle range.  The violin imitates this tune a fifth higher.  Then the piano takes it to the higher range, with the bass trailing.  Both instruments become very quiet. 
2:52 [m. 64]--The piano bass isolates a rhythmic fragment of the tune, and the right hand imitates it in octaves, accompanied by rapid octave oscillations in the violin.  This happens twice.  The piano bass begins a third statement, but in the imitation, the piano right hand and violin are reversed so that the piano right hand is playing the oscillation.  There are two more statements of this pattern, but the left hand fragment moves up to a higher range and the right hand oscillations move down by a half-step in the last one.  Finally, things slow down, the thematic fragment moves to the piano right hand, and the left hand takes the oscillations down low under two long violin notes.  This passage has moved the music to A major.
3:09 [m. 70]--It turns out that A major is a “dominant” leading back to D major, the key of Theme 2, where the exposition should end.  The violin plays a light, graceful line based on the closing melody.  The piano bass harmonizes this while the right hand plays close harmonies after the beat.  Then the piano right hand takes over the graceful melody, the violin moving to the off-beat syncopation.
3:19 [m. 74]--The violin again takes the graceful tune, expanding it with a downward sweeping line.  The right hand off-beat chords are now active, with the notes in parallel motion over an oscillating bass.  There is a mid-range piano line against the violin’s sweeping line.  Finally, the piano takes the melody again, and now both instruments participate in the off-beat chords.  An ascent in chords from the piano is followed by a similar one from the violin, the instruments again exchanging the off-beat chords.  The violin line is expanded farther upward, reaching very high as the piano’s off-beat chords move steadily downward and the bass settles on a repeated D.  At the very end, the key is wrenched back to the home key of G major with two low piano chords resembling the opening
3:38 [m. 82]--The first six bars of Theme 1 are reprised in the home key with slightly different scoring.  The long chords are now plucked by the violin, supported by the piano bass.  The piano plays the actual theme, largely in octaves.
3:53 [m. 88]--There is now a divergence from the original Theme 1.  The scales are extended, adding some arpeggios.  The violin abandons the plucked chords and plays in harmony with the piano, sometimes moving in the same direction, sometimes the opposite direction.  The piano bass retains the dotted rhythm.
4:10 [m. 95]--After the violin breaks a bit, it plays two four-note descents that go against the main rhythm.  The piano closely imitates these one beat later.  The violin abandons these descents, but the piano plays a third one.  The violin line is now freer, but matches the groupings of the piano descents, whose top notes shift up a half-step for three more statements.   Finally, the violin has three four-note descents (the last of which shifts downward) against a free piano line over a low bass note.  A syncopated violin descent ends the passage, which has shifted the music up to A-flat major.
4:19 [m. 99]--A statement of Theme 1 begins in A-flat.  The piano plays bass octaves with the chords coming after them on weak beats.  After the first four bars, the piano imitates the two preceding violin bars and sequences them upwards twice against mildly dissonant violin chords, suggesting F minor.  The violin then takes the figures again and moves them upward again twice, now reaching quite high and suggesting D-flat major (both keys closely related to A-flat major).  The music slows and builds.
4:40 [m. 107]--The downward leaping figure from Theme 1 and the following scales provide the material for a highly dynamic and powerful passage.  After a loud bass chord in A-flat minor, the piano right hand begins to play scales and arpeggios in rapid triplet rhythm.  The violin plays scales against this in straight rhythm, as does the piano right hand in octaves when the triplet arpeggios move to the left hand.  At this point, the piano right hand and violin emerge into the imitative four-note descents from 4:10 [m. 95].
4:47 [m. 110]--Similar passages follow, first in B minor, than in A minor, and finally in G minor.  All begin with the downward-leaping figure and a scale in triplet rhythm.  In the B-minor and G-minor passages, the violin takes the triplet rhythm (along with the piano bass in the B-minor).  In the intervening A-minor passage, the piano right hand begins the triplet rhythm.  When the violin has the triplets, the piano right hand has straight rhythm, and vice versa.  The B-minor and A-minor passages are short, only two bars, while the G-minor one is extended to four bars and emerges into the imitative four-note descents (expanded from three to four statements).  The last piano descent devolves into a string of half-steps at the end.
5:05 [m. 118]--The dynamic music continues, now using the arching dotted-rhythm figure from 0:42 [m. 11].  The piano imitates the violin on this figure while the bass plays another sweeping line derived from it.  The strength builds even more and the music arrives on E minor (relative minor to the home key of G).
5:15 [m. 123]-- The violin, in a forceful downward motion, alternates dotted rhythms with an upward-leaping piano right hand and an arching left hand.  The piano then takes over the “forceful downward motion” in B minor, and the upward leaps move to the left hand, the violin soaring up to double-stops.
5:24 [m. 127]--Suddenly, the ascending line that ended the exposition is heard in the piano bass octaves against an active, highly syncopated right hand.  The violin then enters on the same highly syncopated music, and the ascending line is transferred to the right hand, now in chords.  Finally, the ascending line moves to the violin, where it is given two statements.  The right hand has the strongly syncopated music again and the left hand has long descents.  The music shifts to E-flat major.
5:33 [m. 131]--The violin has two more ascents that are more halting, including repeated notes.  Under these, the syncopated lines break up and become more regular.  Finally, the violin itself has a hemiola on repeated notes implying a 3/2 bar superimposed on the 6/4 meter, which is also supported by the interjecting piano figures.  The music arrives in the home minor key, G minor.
5:40 [m. 135]--The music suddenly recedes at the G-minor cadence.  The tune fragment from 2:52 [m. 64], the downward-turning dotted rhythm, is the substance of a meditative passage.  The fragment is passed between the piano bass and the violin four times, with detached chord and single-note alternations from the right hand played against the violin statements.  Finally, the piano bass has two more isolated statements that are not answered by the violin, which plays longer notes.  There are short right-hand interjections on strong beats.
5:56 [m. 140]--The piano plays the familiar long chords and the violin plays the opening fragment of Theme 1 in G minor.  There is then another series of alternations on the downward-turning dotted rhythm, this time led by the violin and passed to the piano bass.  The right hand again plays the skittish detached figures.  After three alternations, a violin statement of the downward turn reverses and moves upward, holding long notes over two final low statements of the rhythm from the piano bass similar to those heard before m. 140 with the short right-hand interjections.
6:18 [m. 148]--Re-transition.  G minor has now been in force for some time, which means that the emergence of major, rather than the typical “dominant-tonic” motion, will herald the recapitulation.  The opening fragment of Theme 1 is heard again in that key, but this time it is repeated and extended with a dreamy downward-arching motion over the familiar Regenlied dotted rhythm in the piano bass.  This arching motion is repeated in a warm shift to an A-major chord.  Two more descending fragments are heard as the piano bass moves down to a low D (the “dominant” note).  Finally, six violin statements of the earlier four-note descents from 4:10 [m. 95] over a slowly oscillating mid-range piano motion and a syncopated top piano line slow down and lead directly into the recapitulation.
6:43 [m. 156]--Theme 1 begins without the opening dotted rhythm and chords.  The piano chords under this first bar are mildly dissonant, continuing the dreamy mood of the end of the development.  In the second bar, the original chords are restored and the theme proceeds as at the beginning of the sonata., differing only with a slightly higher-reaching right hand at the very end of the nine-bar unit.
7:05 [m. 165]--The cross-rhythm passage with the arching dotted rhythm in the violin and the contrary-motion arpeggios in the piano from 0:42 [m. 11] is repeated exactly up until the climax with the high violin notes in m. 172 (corresponding to m. 18).  The climax is abbreviated by one bar and does not diminish.  A scalar descent in the violin leads directly to Theme 2, skipping the entire long transition passage.
7:28 [m. 174]--Theme 2, in the home key of G major.  There are two statements, as at 1:42 [m. 36], but the piano accompaniment is entirely different.  The left hand has upward arpeggios and the right hand has smooth descending lines.  The 3x2 hemiola is preserved with four-note descents at the end of the first statement.  In the second statement, the violin does not move an octave higher, and the piano does not double it until halfway through.  The left hand arpeggios become wider.  The piano gradually resumes the original accompaniment so that the hemiola at the end of the second statement is as it was in the exposition.
7:46 [m. 182]--The “striving, aggressive” portion of Theme 2 is nearly exactly analogous to 2:01 [m. 44].  Because the setting in G major is at a higher pitch, the climax seams to soar even more brilliantly.
8:10 [m. 193]--Reminiscence of Theme 1 and G-major cadence, analogous to 2:25 [m. 55].
8:26 [m. 198]--Closing material.  Piano and violin alternations of the new oscillating theme heard as at 2:41 [m. 60], now in the analogous key of E major.
8:36 [m. 202]--Isolation of the tune fragment with alternation and rapid octave oscillations.  The entire passage is analogous to 2:52 [m. 64], and arrives on D major as the “dominant” of the home key, G major.
8:54 [m. 208]--Light, graceful violin line with piano harmonies after the beat, as at 3:09 [m. 70].  The piano right hand takes over, as expected.
9:04 [m. 212]--Expansion of the graceful tune and final ascents, as at 3:19 [m. 74].  Here, there are some register shifts from the exposition.  The violin begins its first statement of the graceful tune down an octave so that its reach to the “downward sweeping line” is wider.  Also, in the final violin ascents, the instrument drops down to begin at a lower level so that its final arrival (analogously on C major) is actually (and unexpectedly) lower than in the exposition.
9:21 [m. 219]--The final arrival on C-major is averted by four pairs of dissonant “diminished” chords in the piano’s low and middle range, quite unlike the pure G-major chords at the end of the exposition.  Over the second, third and fourth pairs, the violin leaps up, then widely down and then back up again to a pitch a half-step lower than the first “arrival” note.
9:33 [m. 223]--The entire coda builds very slowly to the brilliant ending.  The opening fragment of Theme 1 is given over short piano chords.  There then follow ascents similar to those at the end of the exposition and recapitulation.  The piano plays “oscillating” motion under these.  The theme fragment and ascents are given again, with new harmonies that briefly move to A minor and back.  The ascents soar quite high.  Four long violin notes leap down, up, and back down as the piano moves to arpeggios in groups of three reminiscent of 0:42 [m. 11].  These ascend under the first three long notes, then turn and descend with a strongly ascending bass as the violin becomes more active and descends to the highly fulfilling arrival point.
10:02 [m. 235]--This satisfying arrival point uses the music from 0:42 [m. 11], now combining the piano arpeggios in groups of three with a joyous version of the arching dotted rhythm.  Two strong motions to a cadence are followed by a long ascent to the top note.  The piano left hand first plays longer, solid bass notes, then joins in the piano arpeggios in its original contrary motion.
10:12 [m. 240]--The final flourish first has the violin descending in two-note groups against sharp piano chords alternating between the left and right hands.  Then the violin breaks into a descending arpeggio in triplet rhythm.  The piano takes up the triplets and reverses direction as the violin moves to straight rhythm.  The two instruments play the final cadence together with three powerful chords, the first two detached and the last one held.
10:28--END OF MOVEMENT [243 mm.]

2nd Movement: Adagio--Più andante--Adagio come prima (Ternary form with large coda).  E-FLAT MAJOR, 2/4 time.
A Section--Adagio
0:00 [m. 1]--Beginning with a long upbeat, the piano alone presents the main theme in harmonies dominated by sonorous sixths, occasionally filled in to complete full chords.  It is a melody set off by its initial gentle descending gesture.  The left hand, after an opening long low octave, plays wide-ranging arpeggios.  The syncopations in the third bar help to stretch the first phrase out to five bars instead of four.
0:23 [m. 6]--The second phrase of the theme shifts the harmony to the “dominant” key of B-flat.  It ends with the opening gesture in that key, and is a regular four bars, creating a larger period of nine bars.
0:43 [m. 10]--At a much quieter level, the violin makes its first entrance with hesitant syncopated figures.  The piano figuration moves to a higher register and low octaves emerge in the bass.  The music shifts back to E-flat, but it is the minor version of that key, and full cadences are avoided.  The violin figures emerge into a confident melody moving to a half-cadence.
1:02 [m. 14]--The half-cadence is repeated in the piano.  The violin melody gains in confidence and is spun out more, reaching high and descending on more forceful syncopated notes.  The low bass piano octaves emerge in full as the upper figuration remains in the middle range.  The music remains in E-flat minor.
1:19 [m. 18]--After a pause, the violin now plays the opening gesture of the main theme and shifts to the major key.  It then works out this gesture as both it and the piano gradually build.  The top of the piano line emerges as a countermelody for the first time.  Brahms builds tension by delaying the full cadence on E-flat, which does eventually arrive.
B Section--Più andante
1:50 [m. 25]--As the piano bass reaches its cadence, the violin drops out, and without warning, the piano emerges into quiet full chords that are again in E-flat minor, not major.  The new tempo marking indicates a somewhat faster speed, but the marking mezza voce implies that it should still be subdued.  The rhythm is the long-short dotted rhythm (this time with rests before the short chords) associated with the Regenlied.  The chords make a progression in E-flat minor and then repeat it with minimal variation in the upper harmonies, but none in the lower bass octaves.  The repetition begins to rapidly build. 
2:03 [m. 29]--Suddenly,  at a louder level, there are two large leaps in octaves that suggest a move to C-flat major.  The second one brings the octaves between the hands closer together, but the notes (G-flat and C-flat) are the same.  A third leap, with the bass again lower, changes C-flat to its equivalent note B, and Brahms changes the key signature from three flats to two sharps.  The violin enters after its long rest, playing a passionate fragment above the piano, whose leaps have emerged into full chords in B major.
2:12 [m. 32]--Suddnly quiet, low chords in the dotted rhythm introduce an expressive, winding melody with many half-steps.  The violin plays the melody, but the piano accompaniment also shadows some of its outlines in the right hand, playing leaping figures in the dotted rhythm with the left.  The volume rapidly increases and the piano speeds up, playing broken octaves in triplets and then plunging downward in a rapid arpeggio.
2:25 [m. 37]--The violin, at full volume and now in B minor, plays the formerly secretive dotted rhythm heard at the beginning of the B section from the piano alone.  It now sounds martial and defiant.  The piano accompanies the violin with chords, while its left hand loosely imitates the rising dotted-rhythm.
2:35 [m. 41]--As at 2:03 [m. 29], the three large leaps follow.  The scoring and octave placement is similar.  It seems at first that there will be an analogous motion to G major from B minor, but the expected G major on the third leap is thwarted harmonically and diverted instead toward D minor.  The “passionate fragment” soars further upward to emphasize this darker intensification.
2:43 [m. 44]--In a darker version of the expressive, winding melody from 2:12 [m. 32], the piano right hand has the main melody while the piano bass combines figures from the melody with the dotted rhythm.  The violin, in a low register, also combines these elements in alternation with the piano bass.  At the intensification, the violin speeds up even more rapidly than the piano had done and emerges into the plunging arpeggio formerly taken by the piano.
2:56 [m. 49]--The key signature changes back to three flats.  The piano seems to begin the martial version of the dotted rhythm again in D minor, and the violin begins to imitate the piano bass (in a reversal of 2:25 [m. 37].  This time, however, the imitation remains strict and the dotted rhythm begins to move upward in sequences.  At its peak, the imitation breaks and the violin begins to play leaping octaves.  The piano has thick chords over plunging bass octaves.  The music moves to a huge arrival on an A-major chord.
3:16 [m. 57]--At the A-major chord, the violin and piano right hand break off and the left hand, suddenly quiet, plays slowly rising arpeggios in the dotted rhythm (the right hand takes over as they move upward).  The A-major chord is followed by similar arpeggios on a B-flat major harmony.  Against these, in double-stops, the violin begins to hesitantly hint at the main theme of the A section.
3:26 [m. 61]--In a continuation of the motion upward by half-steps in the arpeggios, the next one is on C-flat major.  It is repeated three times, but the second one adds a foreign note in the middle, and the third one changes C-flat to C, resulting in a dissonant and tension-filled “diminished-seventh” chord that includes the new “foreign” note (A-natural).  The fragments of the main theme continue in the violin double stops, but they are then shortened.  There is a slowing and a diminishing of volume over the last dissonant arpeggio.  The violin simply holds its last double stop without moving, and there is an extremely intense pause.
A’ Section--Adagio come prima
3:46 [m. 68]--The dissonant violin double-stop at the pause slides into an E-flat major chord, where the main theme seems filled with consolation upon its return after the tense and dark B section.  The violin now plays the main theme in warmly harmonious double stops while the piano provides a new undulating accompaniment in triplet rhythm.  The piano bass still plays the wide arpeggios, clashing with the triplets in a two-against-three conflict.
4:06 [m. 73]--Second phrase of the theme from 0:23 [m. 6].  As before, it moves to B-flat.  The violin continues its double stops, the piano its decorative accompaniment and clashing two-against-three rhythm.  The phrase ends with a descending B-flat piano arpeggio in the triplet rhythm.
4:23 [m. 77]--The violin plays the quiet hesitant syncopated figures, as it had at 0:43 [m. 10].  The difference is in the piano accompaniment, which is still playing the florid triplet motion.  The same low octaves emerge in the bass.  As before, the music moves to E-flat minor and to a half-cadence.
4:41 [m. 81]--The half-cadence is repeated in the piano in a brief break from the constant triplets of the right hand.  The violin melody gains confidence and builds, as at 1:02 [m. 14].  New syncopation is introduced in the flowing piano triplet rhythm.  The bass octaves are as before.
4:57 [m. 85]--Return of the opening gesture of the main theme, as at 1:19 [m. 18].  The piano is still playing the triplets in the right hand, at first with irregular groupings that cross bar lines, continuing the syncopated effect from the previous passage.  The countermelody is embedded in the flowing triplets.  There is a building, with a delay of the cadence in E-flat, as in the first A section.
Coda (B’ Section)
5:27 [m. 92]--The coda uses elements of the B section.  The ominous dotted rhythm in the piano that began that section emerges out of A’ in the same way as it had before at 1:50 [m. 25], with the major difference that it does not shift instantly to the minor key.  The low bass octaves remain in pure E-flat major, but the supporting chords introduce the chromatic note D-flat, which creates the necessary tension.  The entire passage is very soft, even softer than the beginning of the B section.
5:42 [m. 96]--The piano now begins a long bass pedal point on E-flat.  It continues constantly in the dotted rhythm, with notes held across bar lines.  Above this, the right hand plays middle-range chords that do change, but quite slowly.  The right-hand chords introduce more notes in addition to the D-flat that give the music an inflection toward the minor key.  Above all of this, the violin surreptitiously enters after its long rest and plays the expressive, winding melody from 2:12 [m. 32].  The violin departs from the melody after two sequential phrases, breaking into arching arpeggios over the piano pedal point and chords.
6:30 [m. 111]--The E-flat minor at the end of the pedal point pivots to its related major key, G-flat.  The violin, in double stops, begins a statement of the main theme (from the A section) in that key.  The piano bass moves down and up by half-steps.  The right hand begins to respond to the violin, and there is a sudden buildup.  The main theme in G-flat breaks and reaches higher.  As the buildup reaches its climax, E-flat major brilliantly emerges again on the opening figure of the theme.
6:51 [m. 117]--The violin continues with the main theme in double stops, but it pauses on a third, diminishes and quiets, and the piano breaks into sonorous arpeggios.  These are played in contrary motion, and the right hand is harmonized in a “horn fifth” style.  The violin moves down an octave, and both hands of the piano move up an octave.  Here, the “horn fifth” arpeggios are repeated with the instruments closer together.  The arpeggios continue a bit farther than before and reach a quiet, warm cadence.  Two sighing reiterations of this cadence, the second with the piano rising, end the movement in a very peaceful manner.
7:27--END OF MOVEMENT [122 mm.]

3rd Movement: Allegro molto moderato--Più moderato (Rondo form).  G MINOR/MAJOR, 4/4 time.
0:00 [m. 1]--First statement of RONDO theme (A).  The first two bars are directly derived from the minor-key Regenlied melody.  The violin plays the melody itself, beginning with the distinctive dotted-rhythm upbeat.  The piano plays an accompaniment derived from the song, the skittish upward motion and the winding downward motion.  The piano bass has isolated dotted-rhythm upbeats, and the left hand once leaps above the steady accompaniment to play them higher.  After the second bar, the melody deviates from the song, but retains the same quiet, agitated character.
0:10 [m. 5]--The second phrase is more static at first.  It is extended to five bars by an insertion of a bar with triplets in the violin.  The left hand abandons the dotted upbeats for low octaves.  The phrase moves through A minor to D minor for a cadence.  The piano skips upward in a bridge, moving back to G minor.
0:22 [m. 10]--A contrasting phrase brings the rising accompaniment figures in the piano to the violin, and the instruments alternate on these figures.  The left hand is absent here.  The last two violin statements of the figures are delayed, and the final one is lengthened, leading into a restatement of the opening.  Under this final lengthened violin figure, the piano bass enters with the dotted rhythm.
0:33 [m. 14]--The opening of the theme returns.  The first phrase begins as before, but it is altered in its second half, where it reaches lower at the end.  This places the second phrase at a lower level, and through artful manipulation, it reaches lower still, allowing it to remain in G minor for its cadence.
0:54 [m. 23]--The contrasting phrase from 0:22 [m. 10] is used as a transition to the first new contrasting theme.  It begins higher than before and is interrupted by a smooth violin descent with the piano moving to a downward winding line.  The rising figures return, and are again broken by the smooth line.  The downward winding piano line moves to the left hand as the key moves to D minor.
1:04 [m. 27]--FIRST CONTRASTING THEME (B).  The theme begins with a sort of anticipation emerging from the previous passage.  The longer dotted rhythms and languid line in the violin will become characteristic of the theme.  The right hand enters against the continuing left hand figuration.  There is a small swelling and receding (D minor).
1:09 [m. 29]--The actual contrasting theme is first stated here.  The long dotted rhythms heard in the “anticipation” now become genuinely melodic.  The piano has short interjections with low bass notes as an accompaniment, but it does have one trailing imitation of a turning violin figure in the melody.
1:20 [m. 33]--The instruments reverse roles in a second statement of the melody.  The piano plays the tune in octaves with isolated broken octaves in the left hand.  These are part of the “short interjections” in the accompaniment, together with violin double stops.  The violin also takes the previous piano imitation of the turning figure, still in double stops.  The end of the statement is altered to prepare for the next part of the melody, into which the violin leads with a trill.
1:31 [m. 37]--A contrasting phrase led by the violin is more agitated.  It sweeps down in an arpeggio, then back up.  This happens three times, with a descending two-note response.  The two-note responses then come to the foreground, heavily accenting their upbeats, creating syncopation, and moving both up and down.  Throughout the phrase, the piano has the “short interjections,” but they also now incorporate syncopation and are lengthened and connected when the two-note violin figures take over.
1:41 [m. 41]--The last syncopation hesitantly leads into an altered statement of the phrase from 1:09 [m. 29], with its second half altered to lead to a full cadence in D minor.  The piano accompaniment and imitation of the turning phrase are largely the same as before, following the violin in the alterations and cadence.
1:51 [m. 45]--The instruments reverse roles again for a restatement of the contrasting phrase from 1:31 [m. 37].  The piano leads in with an trill, but unlike the violin statement, the piano statement increases in volume as well as agitation.  The violin accompaniment is mostly in double stops unless it is joining in the two-note responses.  Unlike the violin statement, this piano statement incorporates triplet rhythms into the sweeping arpeggios, and the piano bass also includes rapid triplet arpeggios.
2:02 [m. 49]--For the restatement of the cadence phrase from 1:41 [m. 41], the instruments are not reversed.  The agitated piano passage settles down, and the violin takes over, making this phrase a virtually exact repetition of the previous one leading to the D-minor cadence.  After the cadence, a piano arpeggio leads directly into the dotted-rhythm upbeat heralding a return of the Regenlied rondo theme.
2:12 [m. 53]--A transitional passage brings back the material of the rondo theme, but it is fragmented.  It steadily quiets down and moves back to the home key of G minor.  At the end, the anticipation for the actual rondo theme has reached a point of great tension and expectation.
2:35 [m. 61]--Second full statement of RONDO theme (A).  The first two phrases are given in the same form as at the beginning, without variation.
2:58 [m. 70]--The contrasting phrase and the return of the opening are restated as at 0:22 [m. 10] and 0:33 [m. 14].  The piano accompaniment following the G-minor cadence turns around and winds downward, extending the phrase by a bar to lead to the second contrasting theme.  The transition from 0:54 [m. 23] is dispensed with, and the new theme (which turns out to be an old theme) follows directly.
3:33 [m. 84]--SECOND CONTRASTING THEME (C).  Entering over the trailing piano descent and moving smoothly, but directly to E-flat major, the contrasting theme turns out to be the primary melody from the second movement, complete with violin double stops!  While the piano arrests itself at first, giving the violin full exposure in this important moment, it immediately resumes activity (including a syncopated leaping figure in the bass) under the violin’s continuation, which becomes more active and superimposes the pervasive dotted rhythm of this movement onto the reminiscence of the theme from the previous movement, culminating in a scale descent that sounds extremely similar to a moment in the later Fourth Symphony.
3:45 [m. 88]--The violin again states the new/old melody, now in B-flat major and without the double stops, over highly syncopated piano accompaniment.  It is now given more extension and spun out in a dreamy manner before the previous continuation with dotted rhythm and the scale descent are again heard.  Finally, the tune is given yet again in B-flat major, an octave higher than before.
4:07 [m. 96]--The melody is now played with shorter notes in the violin and broken up by rests.  It abruptly begins in a seemingly remote key, D-flat major, but it turns quickly to that key’s related minor, B-flat minor, connecting it to the previous B-flat major.  The piano right hand undulates in mostly thirds and sixths  The piano bass plays together with the isolated fragments of the violin melody, mostly in contrary motion.
4:18 [m. 100]--The piano has its turn at the “broken up” version of the melody.  It begins in G-flat major, which is related to D-flat major and B-flat minor.  It also makes a minor-key turn, but much sooner, and it stays on the same home keynote (notated as F-sharp, not G-flat minor).  The right hand fragments of the melody are harmonized, and the left hand now has the undulations.  Suddenly, the violin enters with melodic undulations and the piano plays sharp syncopated chords with moving bass octaves.  This passage is unstable and becomes loud and agitated.
4:28 [m. 104]--The climax of the preceding passage ends up on E-flat (the home key of the C section), but it is a mixture of major and minor.  Sharp octave descents in the piano bass occur with short violin interjections derived from the melody.  The right hand’s undulations now have a fuller harmony.  Another climax is reached, with major winning out over minor and the violin playing a fast, downward arching arpeggio to lead into the upcoming culminating statement of the second movement melody.
4:37 [m. 107]--In the original E-flat major, the violin plays a very fulfilling version of the melody in a syncopated version.  The piano plays sweeping arpeggios and rich low bass octaves.  As at the beginning of the section, the melody then incorporates the dotted rhythm, including the descending scale.  Using some biting chromatic notes and syncopated piano bass arpeggios, the melody rapidly diminishes in intensity as it approaches the cadence.
4:56 [m. 113]--Brahms marked this transition “tranquillo.”  The dotted upbeats typical of the main rondo theme emerge along with their typical accompaniment and long low bass notes.  The key is still the E-flat major of the C section, but the violin soon slides upward and the piano follows it with quickly changing harmonies that move toward a radiant F-sharp major.
5:10 [m. 118]--Another wave of the transition material begins in G-flat major (a re-notation of F-sharp).  The violin again slides upward on the dotted upbeats.  A rapid buildup and retreat leads to A-flat major.  As the music again starts to die away, the piano, then the violin play a syncopated descending line that eases back down to the home key of the movement, G minor.  The end of the violin’s descent suddenly doubles as a sliding upbeat into the return of the rondo theme.
5:30 [m. 124]--Third statement of RONDO theme (A’).  The theme begins as before in the violin, but the dotted rhythm in the low piano bass is shifted from an upbeat to mid-measure.  The left hand does not cross the right on the second of these, moving only one octave higher.  Then the hand crossing does occur, but the crossing left hand plays syncopation instead of the dotted rhythm, and the violin begins to diverge a bit from the original melody.  The end of the phrase reaches downward instead of upward, as it had before.
5:41 [m. 128]--The second phrase is greatly altered.  There are new melodic turns, and the left hand dotted-rhythm interjections remain in mid-measure.  The right hand does cross here and play the dotted rhythm.  The phrase ends with four four-note descents, each a half-step lower.  These contain several chromatic notes, which also appear in the piano accompaniment.  The piano bass has heavily syncopated repetitions.
5:51 [m. 132]--Instead of a contrasting phrase, the opening of the melody returns here.  The left hand dotted rhythms remain in mid-measure.  This phrase diverges even earlier, reaching much higher.  Again, the left hand crosses over to the syncopated rhythm, as in the first phrase of this section.
6:01 [m. 136]--The last phrase of the section now has a more distinct feeling of closure, although the much anticipated cadence is repeatedly evaded.  The piano bass has very low repetitions of the keynote, G.  Finally, a descending triplet figure leads to a satisfying cadence in G minor as the music slows down slightly.  The piano, whose upward-skipping accompaniment figures have remained remarkably consistent through the highly varied section, skips upward and immediately changes G minor to G major in its ascent.
6:13 [m. 140]--CODA (A” + C’).  Più moderato, G major.  To emphasize the change here, Brahms writes dolcissimo (extremely sweetly).  The material at the beginning is a major-key transformation of the “contrasting phrase” from the rondo theme, specifically the version used as a transition at 0:54 [m. 23].  After two bars of this material, the piano, in its middle range, unexpectedly inserts a richly harmonized version of the C theme, or second movement theme.  The violin plays wide figuration over this, and a chord from the C melody is given a pulsation in slow dotted rhythm.
6:26 [m. 144]--Another statement of the “contrasting phrase” begins an octave lower, but the violin very quickly reaches higher than before.  The violin and piano right hand begin a dialogue on a turn figure derived from the contrasting phrase.  The left hand takes over the familiar accompaniment figures, and there is a small crescendo to a minor climax as the violin reaches a top note.  This quickly recedes.
6:41 [m. 149]--The violin emerges into the C melody in double stops with a rippling, undulating piano accompaniment.  Pulsations follow, supported by piano bass octaves and briefly hinting at E major.  This is followed by a new and highly expressive violin phrase that slowly arches up and back down.
6:58 [m. 154]--The pulsations begin again.  They are followed again the by the new expressive phrase, which now reaches higher, is extended a bar, and descends in a dotted rhythm as the tempo slows a bit.
7:18 [m. 159]--A shadow of the rondo theme, the opening dotted rhythm, is passed between the piano right hand and the violin, the left hand taking the accompaniment in one final rise and fall in volume.  The last soaring phrase reaches high in the violin while the piano right hand hesitantly descends over sweeping left hand arpeggios.  The transfigured final chords are rolled by the piano, with the violin playing double stops.
7:50--END OF MOVEMENT [164 mm.]