Recording: Yo-Yo Ma, cello and Emanuel Ax, piano [RCA Red Seal 82876-59415-2]
Published 1887

The works following the Fourth Symphony are generally regarded as belonging to the “late style.”  The earliest of these were three chamber works composed during the summer of 1886 while Brahms was on a productive vacation at a resort near Lake Thun in Switzerland.  The pieces, a cello sonata, a violin sonata, and a piano trio, could have been conceived as a group, and make an effective concert program for three performers.  The cello sonata is by far the most expansive of the three.  It is the only one in four movements, and its scherzo movement is of unusual breadth.  By contrast, the second violin sonata and the third piano trio are among his most concise chamber compositions.  The first cello sonata, Op. 38, was the earliest published work for solo instrument and piano.  This second sonata creates a contrasting counterpart to that introspective and dark piece through its use of the instrument’s higher range, effects such as pizzicato and tremolo, and the virtuosic, extroverted piano part.  The first movement is extraordinarily exuberant, and the piano tremolo, an effect often used for piano reductions of orchestral and opera scores and rarely used by Brahms, is extremely effective and exciting.  The approach to the recapitulation is subdued, tense, and ultimately satisfying.  The slow movement is among Brahms’s most tender and intimate.  It is in F-sharp major, a half-step above the sonata’s home key and not closely related to it, a bold movement key choice whose analog is not found elsewhere in Brahms.  The key of F-sharp does play a large role in the other three movements.  The opening cello pizzicato line and the very chromatic piano chords at the beginning set a highly atmospheric mood.  The unusually extended developmental scherzo is passionate and fiery, with a demanding piano part and complex rhythmic ambiguities.  It represents the last time Brahms used a da capo marking to indicate the reprise of the main scherzo after the contrasting trio section, which is quiet and gentle.  The rondo finale is perhaps the most extreme example of Brahms’s late penchant for brief closing movements, largely because of the relatively expansive middle movements.  It has been criticized for not providing enough balance, but it is a witty and delightful piece with an absolutely joyous ending.

ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut Lübeck)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (from Breitkopf & Härtel Sämtliche Werke)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (Cello part from first edition)

1st Movement: Allegro vivace (Sonata-Allegro form).  F MAJOR, 3/4 time.
0:00 [m. 1]--Theme 1.  Beginning with a rolled chord, the piano immediately launches into the rapid measured tremolo in six-note groups that occupies it for much of the movement.  The tremolo remains in force during most of the harmonic changes in the theme.  The cello theme begins on the first upbeat.  It is extroverted and passionate, but very jerky, with several pauses and clipped rhythms.  After shifting up and down a couple of times, the cello reaches into its very highest register at the end of the phrase.
0:16 [m. 9]--The piano, while keeping the same rapid rhythm in the right hand, moves from the tremolo to arching arpeggios, starting high and moving steadily downward.  The left hand has already been playing wide triplet arpeggios for a couple of bars, but now moves to four-note groups in contrary motion that conflict with the right hand’s six-note groups.  After two bars, it moves to bass octaves.  The cello begins the theme again an octave lower, but after the first two gestures it moves back up and seems to start yet again.  The continuation stalls and falters, however, and the piano right hand slows to four-note groups, the left hand playing isolated broken octaves.  The cello finally settles in preparation for the next phrase.
0:31 [m. 17]--The new phrase is more melodic and soaring, with a less active piano accompaniment.  The first two bars are repeated an octave higher.  Then the piano drops out for a measure as the cello meditates on its figuration.  Finally, the piano enters with its own meditation on the melody, played in octaves against held cello notes.
0:44 [m. 24]--Transition.  The cello finally moves to its lowest register and again plays the meditation on the last phrase, its pitch shifted down to that of the phrase’s opening.  The piano plays chords on the “dominant” (the typical goal of the transition) in a cross rhythm.  Then the cello slides down in long notes, circling the note D.  The piano chords are dissonant and seem to suggest a motion to G minor.  After four bars, the harmony changes, the long cello notes shift up by a fourth, and the goal now appears to be the “correct” one of C.  The volume builds, and the goal seems to be C minor before Theme 2 suddenly erupts in C major.
1:03 [m. 34]--Theme 2.  The piano leaps from upbeats into full chords in a rather heroic vein.  The cello adds a pair of three-note quasi-imitations before dropping out for the remainder of the phrase.  The piano then continues in a passionate mood with two-against-three conflicts between the hands.  The right hand plays lightly decorated octaves that touch on the minor while the left plays wide-ranging arpeggios in triplet rhythm.  At the end of the phrase, the right hand briefly moves to triplets in a forceful half-close (C major).
1:15 [m. 40]--Beginning with an upbeat and a chord, the cello starts the theme, with the piano playing fully harmonized versions of the brief imitations.  After two bars, the cello continues the theme, but veers away harmonically.  The piano accompaniment to this is a series of figures after the beats, leaping triplet rhythms (where the first part of the beat is a rest) in the right hand and low octaves in the left.  The key turns to E minor, where the cello, followed directly by the piano, comes to a powerful full cadence.
1:25 [m. 46]--The piano moves back to the C-major area for two bars of meandering triplet figures in both hands against staccato leaps in straight rhythm from the cello.  Then, against a cello chord, the piano erupts into a series of downward cascading, zigzagging figures played in octaves between the hands.  The first two are passed to the cello on the third beat of the bar.  Then the piano alone launches into a longer descent that reaches its lower register and then stalls at that level, continuing the zigzag pattern on the same pitches.  These descents have led to A minor (the “relative” key to C major), where the exposition will end.
1:35 [m. 52]--The cello plays a version of Theme 2 in A minor with the same basic rhythm, but with inverted directionality and wider leaps, beginning on the upbeat to create syncopation.  Meanwhile, the piano continues its zigzag pattern in octaves, gradually sliding upward and the right hand gradually breaking free.  After a quick buildup, the cello briefly drops out and the piano breaks into the new version of the theme in full chords with wide arpeggios in the left hand.  As the piano approaches a full cadence in A minor, the cello enters again with double stops and its own widely arching arpeggios.
1:49 [m. 60]--Closing material (A minor).  The cello begins its own distinctive tremolo, beginning with an oscillation on the same pitch (A) on different strings, then gradually widening with downward chromatic motion below the top A before repeating the pattern.  The piano’s strong accompanying chords attempt to assert the major key, but the feel of the cello tremolo is distinctly minor.  After its second pattern, the cello tremolo stalls.  At the first ending (m. 65a), a sliding inner voice in the piano seems to confirm A minor, but the cello and piano are on the two pitches shared between the A-minor and F-major chords, easing the transition back to the beginning for the repeat.
2:00 [m. 1]--Theme 1, as at the beginning.
2:15 [m. 9]--Piano arpeggios and stalled continuation of cello theme, as at 0:16.
2:31 [m. 17]--New soaring phrase, as at 0:31.
2:44 [m. 24]--Transition, as at 0:44.
3:02 [m. 34]--Theme 2, as at 1:03.
3:13 [m. 40]--Cello statement of Theme 2 and motion to E-minor cadence, as at 1:15.
3:24 [m. 46]--Motion back to C major, beginning of piano “zigzag” pattern, and shift to A minor, as at 1:25.
3:34 [m. 52]--Syncopated version of Theme 2 in cello, then piano, as at 1:35.
3:48 [m. 60]--Closing material, as at 1:49.  At the second ending (m. 65b), the harmony makes an artful shift to a dissonant “diminished seventh” chord instead of the expected A minor.  This dissonant harmony is used to move to the key of F-sharp minor, where the development section begins.
4:00 [m. 66]--The first two gestures of the main theme are stated by the cello in F-sharp minor, a half-step above the opening, against a thicker and very active piano tremolo.  The cello holds a low note (G-sharp).  After an extremely forceful change of harmony in the piano on the second half of an upbeat, the pattern is repeated a fourth higher for the first gesture and a fifth lower (creating a very large jump) on the second gesture, with a held low C-sharp.  This time, the tremolo trails away and is extended by half a bar.
4:16 [m. 74]--Beginning halfway through the bar, still in F-sharp minor, the piano begins a very chromatic pattern in triplet rhythm with a more “pianistic” texture than the tremolo.  The left hand takes the first part of each triplet group, with its single notes working down before being taken over by full chords.  The cello adds its own highly chromatic lines.  The music is mysterious and subdued, marked molto piano sempre e legato.  After two bars, a brief passage of syncopation leads to the continuation of the phrase in C-sharp minor.  As the cello makes an octave descent to a low D-sharp, the piano figuration climbs up the keyboard.
4:33 [m. 81]--Again halfway through the bar, another similar mysterious phrase begins, with the cello moving up as the piano moves back down in its same triplet pattern.  The harmony shifts up another fifth, to G-sharp, and there is a similar passage of syncopation, this time with the cello participating more heavily.  The phrase is extended with even more chromatic harmony involving half-step shifts and dissonant “diminished seventh” chords.  The volume finally builds as the music reaches its maximum amount of dissonance and chromatic motion.
4:57 [m. 92]--As the piano forcefully lands on a “diminished seventh,” the cello begins a steady tremolo on the notes F and A-flat, both of which are in the piano’s dissonant chord.  The volume rapidly diminishes.  While the cello holds on to the tremolo on these two pitches, the piano plays three more chords that contain them.  The piano figuration, with a low bass octave below the first beat and a higher chord on the second beat, recalls the shape of the main theme.  The chords are F minor, D-flat major, and the “dominant seventh” chord on B-flat.
5:12 [m. 98]--The cello tremolo now becomes active.  At first, the lower note remains on F with the upper note shifting to A-natural, then back to A-flat, then G.  The upper note then remains anchored to G, and the lower note shifts away from F, first to D-flat, then down to low C.  This C-G tremolo is the goal, and creates the background for the long “dominant” preparation typical at the end of a development section.  The piano continues its pattern of chords with low octaves on the first beat, moving through D-minor, back through the “dominant seventh” on B-flat to the same chord on G.  The middle notes of this chord on G are then flattened (against the D-flat in the cello), the dissonance increasing anticipation for the arrival on C.
5:27 [m. 104]--Re-transition.  Both the cello and piano bass arrive on the pivotal note C.  The C-G tremolo remains in effect in the cello, although it shifts up and down by octaves with the piano chords.  The piano bass has arrived on C, where it remains.  The volume builds quickly.  While the piano bass remains anchored on C, the chords on the second beat move through more dissonant “dominant seventh” and “diminished seventh” harmonies before finally arriving on the preparatory “dominant” chord on C.  This occurs at the climax before the volume suddenly diminishes.  Unexpectedly, the piano abandons the low bass octave at this point.  The lowest note remains C in the high chords, and the cello remains on its tremolo, but the piano surprisingly adds more dissonance, descending to a quiet, mysterious “ninth” chord.
5:47 [m. 112]--The piano and cello both move to the chord of the home key, F major, the cello tremolo finally shifting away from C-G to C-F.  But the reprise has not yet arrived.  The arrival on F occurs at an intensely quiet moment.  In full-measure chords, the piano unmistakeably invokes the first seven notes of the main theme.  The cello tremolo shifts in harmony to match the piano chords.  Its bottom note settles on F before briefly framing it with E and F-sharp.  As the piano breaks away from the transformed Theme 1, the cello finally breaks its tremolo.  It plays a rising line that is then imitated and harmonized by the piano.  This rising line is centered on G, the eighth note of the main theme.
6:07 [m. 120]--In the last phrase of the development section, a three-note descent in thirds in the piano left hand is followed an octave higher by the right hand.  Against the right hand statement, the cello plays the rising line centered on G once more.  Then it plays the descent in thirds, using double stops, at the level where the piano left hand had played it.  Against the cello descent, the piano left hand moves to the low bass, where it plays another rising line, this time centered around C.  Then the piano follows with the original harmonized line centered on G, now doubled in both hands.
6:15 [m. 124]--At the midpoint of the final re-transitional phrase, the piano right hand begins a high tremolo in thirds, descending six steps and doubled below by block thirds an octave lower in the left hand.  The cello plays a long rising line beginning on its low C and twice as slow as the rising lines just heard.  Finally, the piano tremolo leaps up to C-E, the left hand also playing tremolo on those notes.  The cello plays an octave descent in long notes against it (the left hand tremolo also moves down an octave with the cello) as the volume rapidly increases.  The right hand tremolo descends by step until it fills in the full “dominant” chord on C and at last announces the recapitulation.
6:23 [m. 128]--Theme 1.  The first cello presentation of the theme in F major is as at the beginning.  The tremolo in the piano left hand is also unchanged.  The right hand tremolo, however, is subtly altered.  Its first four measures are an octave higher, placed there for a smoother transition from the high tremolo that ended the development section.  Also, the top of the tremolo replaces single notes with two-note harmonies in the first five measures.  The original pitch level is smoothly approached in the fourth measure by manipulating and inverting one of these two-note harmonies along with the lower note of the tremolo.
6:39 [m. 136]--The phrase that followed here in the exposition at 0:16 and 2:15 [m. 9], with arching piano arpeggios, is condensed from eight to four bars.  The piano moves to solid descending octaves in the left hand, while the right hand plays a fully harmonized version of the theme’s first gestures.  The cello plays gestures from the theme in anticipation of the piano and using double stops.  The “stalling” of the theme as heard in the exposition is eliminated, and the instruments condense the melodic and harmonic motion toward the soaring phrase.
6:47 [m. 140]--The soaring phrase is very similar to its presentation in the exposition at 0:31 and 2:31 [m. 17], especially in the cello.  The piano figures are subtly changed, both to remain at a more steady pitch level and to add new rolled chords, along with a more active bass.  One of these rolled chords is played against the cello meditation where the piano had dropped out.  The piano’s own two-bar meditation, along with the entire transition, is removed, and the music moves directly from the soaring phrase to Theme 2.
6:55 [m. 145]--Theme 2.  The complete elimination of the transition as a device to remain in the home key of F major for the second theme is unconventional, but effective.  The new key places the theme a fourth higher than its presentation at 1:03 and 3:02 [m. 34], but otherwise, it follows the pattern quite closely, with the cello dropping out after its pair of quasi-imitations.
7:07 [m. 151]--The cello presentation of the theme closely follows the pattern at 1:15 and 3:13 [m. 40], but instead of a fourth higher, as in the previous phrase, the cello plays a fifth lower than in the exposition.  The piano pattern remains higher, as in the previous phrase, but the left-hand octaves are replaced by single notes.  The harmonic change at the end of the phrase is now, analogously, to A minor, with the forceful cadence occurring there.
7:17 [m. 157]--At this point, the passage analogous to 1:25 and 3:24 [m. 46], the cello shifts to the higher octave (the low octave would be below its range) and, like the piano, is now a fourth higher than it was in the exposition.  The motion back to F major and the plunging, zigzagging figures follow as expected.  They now lead to the key of D minor, which is “relative” to F major and follows the tonal pattern established in the exposition.
7:28 [m. 163]--Analogous to 1:35 and 3:34 [m. 52].  Syncopated cello version of Theme 2 in D minor with zigzag pattern continuing in the piano.  Here, the left hand rather than the right is the one that breaks free of the doubled zigzag figures.  When the piano takes up the new version of the theme, the cello punctuates its entry with a new chord.
7:42 [m. 171]--Closing material.  While following the pattern of 1:49 and 3:48 [m. 60], there are interesting changes.  The first pattern of the cello tremolo begins with an octave rather than a unison oscillation, and  instead of the bottom note expanding downward, the top note contracts downward.  It is the same type of harmony, but with a different approach.  The second pattern begins with the unison, as in the exposition, and stalls, as it does there.  Unlike either the first or second endings of the exposition, the piano holds a D-minor chord for a full measure under an oscillating cello D before changing.  Following this measure, the expected shift does occur, and it is to a “diminished seventh” chord.  Here, it is used to move from D minor back to the home key of F for the coda, but at first F minor, rather than F major, is the goal.
7:55 [m. 178]--The first passage of the coda is essentially analogous to the beginning of the development section at 4:00 [m. 66], with the first gestures of the main theme over the busy tremolo, the forceful change of harmony, and the repetition a fourth higher.  It is simply shifted down a half-step, from F-sharp minor to F minor.  The second held low note (now C) is extended by yet another bar as the harmony of the piano tremolo is also stretched out with a hemiola, or cross-rhythm.  As in the development, it trails away.
8:13 [m. 187]--Over the continuing sustained C and the quiet piano tremolo, the cello plays an entirely new variant of the main theme that is sweetly soothing and gradually shifts from minor to major.  After two bars, the cello moves to its own octave tremolo on C.  The piano takes up the “soothing” version of the theme and extends it with hemiola groups of two beats against the triple meter, shifting to major and briefly pointing toward B-flat.
8:30 [m. 194]--The piano now begins a highly transformed version of theme 2, marked grazioso.  The theme is played in right hand chords with wide triplet arpeggios in the left hand.  The cello repeats the two-bar piano pattern as the right hand moves to triplet figures that begin off the beat.  The cello extends the theme 2 material.  The piano right hand moves to high chords to harmonize the cello extension as both instruments surge, then settle down, the cello sinking to its low C.
8:57 [m. 203]--The cello begins a tremolo similar to that heard at 4:57 [m. 92].  It is subdued and gentle.  The top note stays steady while the bottom note works downward.  The piano plays chords similar to those in the re-transition at the end of the development section, with patterns invoking the main theme.  A shorter, lower chord on the first beat is followed by a longer, higher one on the second.  The cello tremolo resets with the bottom notes on the preparatory pitches B-flat, then C.  With the marking un poco sostenuto, the piano chords settle to a very warm, full cadence that echoes the end of the preceding phrase.
9:12 [m. 207]--The F-major chord at the cadence is marked forte, and its arrival awakens both instruments from their reverie.  Brahms makes sure to indicate vivace to counteract the preceding sostenuto.  The piano plays a very exuberant version of the primary gesture from the main theme, which is taken up by the cello and then the piano’s own bass line.  These figures quickly lead to the abrupt, but satisfying final chords.  The cello’s descent, from B-flat to the top F of the last chord, is particularly exuberant.
9:28--END OF MOVEMENT [211 mm.]

2nd Movement: Adagio affettuoso (Ternary form with varied return).  F-SHARP MAJOR, 2/4 time.
A Section
0:00 [m. 1]--The piano begins the expressive theme, which features a heavily dotted (long-short) rhythm leading into a colorful chord.  Against this, the cello plays a thumping, almost marching pizzicato line in its low register before rising in a questioning way.  The harmony of the piano theme almost immediately veers away from F-sharp toward the closely related keys of B and C-sharp major.  The latter key is already reached by the end of the first phrase, when the lower voices of the piano begin to move in a very chromatic way and the cellist takes the bow to play a confirming descent to low C-sharp.
0:27 [m. 5]--The second phrase makes an immediate shift to B major, where the cello begins the melody and the piano, in accompanied octaves, takes the marching line previously played by the pizzicato cello.  The melody veers in new directions after the colorful chord, however, and the cello line steadily rises by half-step, eventually landing on a long high note (C-sharp).  The piano initially continues in patterns based on the marching line, but builds to a climax as the cello reaches the high note, where it breaks into new triplet rhythms.  Here, the phrase is extended three more bars for a total of seven.  The cello continues to linger in its high range.  With the piano triplets, it gradually settles down and moves back home to F-sharp.
1:17 [m. 12]--The moment of arrival is warm and heartfelt.  The cello plays an epilogue-like melody that incorporates the triplet rhythms while the piano moves to a more steady accompaniment with off-beat chords in the right hand.  After two bars, the epilogue-like tune moves to the piano bass.  The cello works upward again, and the key moves yet again toward C-sharp.
1:41 [m. 16]--The piano, with both hands in the treble, begins a second “epilogue” with a music box-like character in the key of C-sharp major, where the A section ends.  The cello follows with the music box melody an octave lower than the piano.  The piano trails, coming to a gentle but incomplete cadence.
B Section--F minor
2:07 [m. 20]--C-sharp is re-interpreted as D-flat, and E-sharp as F to make the half-step pivot from F-sharp major to F minor.  The cello begins the lamenting melody on an upbeat.  It features an opening leap, dotted rhythms, and regular, steady piano chords after the beat.  Halfway through the phrase, the melody brightens and shifts to D-flat major.  The cello leaps down to a low D-flat, then briefly adds an upper voice over the low notes.
2:40 [m. 25]--The piano begins a rapturous, highly chromatic series of doubled parallel sixths and thirds in both hands.  The rapture builds to a climax as the cello adds brief figures, syncopated at first, in its lower register.  The piano harmonies surge, recede, and surge again, moving decisively back to F minor.
2:58 [m. 28]--The piano, with both hands in the treble range, at first in more doubled sixths, forcefully states the main gesture of the B section theme.  The cello immediately imitates the gesture, still in the lower register.  The piano left hand then also moves to bass octaves.  The piano begins to meditate on the figure, becoming harmonically active and again moving toward D-flat as the cello settles to a syncopated repetition of the “dominant” note and then the tonic (home) note in that key.  The volume rapidly diminishes.  The piano briefly hints at a further harmonic motion to G-flat.
3:27 [m. 33]--The cello clearly but quietly states the marching line, the accompaniment to the main theme of the movement, in D-flat major.  In the low bass, it states the first four notes.  The next four are taken by the piano bass.  The pattern is then repeated an octave higher, still over D-flat harmony.  The cello moves up yet another octave and meditates on the first four notes.  The piano harmonies and the cello meditation shift up another level, to G-flat major.  G-flat is of course another way of notating F-sharp, the home key of the movement.
3:55 [m. 37]--The cello, now in its high range, speeds up to a group of six, becoming more agitated.  The piano, in octaves, takes up the groups of six, which seem to gradually inch and lean upward with their strategically placed repeated notes.  The octaves are soon supplemented with other harmonies, including  a “pedal point” on a low D-flat.  The cello reaches even higher, the G-flat key is confirmed, the agitation increases more, and the piano left hand erupts into a wide, highly syncopated arpeggio against high octaves in the right hand.
4:09 [m. 40]--Brahms changes the notation and the key signature to F-sharp.  The music is highly unstable at this point, however.  The cello enters with forceful pizzicato, now in its high range and outlining the opening of the marching line, not in F-sharp major, but F-sharp minor.  The piano plays a version of the main theme with highly chromatic, even dissonant harmonies, taking full advantage of the implications given by the “colorful” chord after the dotted rhythm.  These harmonies waver between implied G major (with the “dominant” chord on D), F-sharp minor, and D major itself.  The agitation quickly subsides.  The cello moves down by octaves, but stubbornly persists with its plucked minor-key version of the first notes from the marching line, cutting off the first note on repetitions in each octave.  Finally, a colorful “diminished seventh” chord leads into the original version of the theme in F-sharp major.
A’ Section
4:35 [m. 44]--The first four measures of the main theme, with the marching pizzicato cello, are stated as at the beginning.  The first note of the cello line is cut off, following the pattern of the previous pizzicato figures in minor.
5:02 [m. 48]--The passage in B major from 0:27 [m. 5] begins with no alterations in the cello part, but the piano statement of the marching line is decorated with broken octaves.  After the first four bars, when the cello reaches its high note, the piano exploits the faster rhythms generated by the broken octaves and moves to more decorative arpeggios above a steady bass line.  The music then deviates even more from the original pattern, replacing the triplets with the faster rhythms and extending the phrase by another bar for a total of eight.  The key does not move back to F-sharp, but to B minor and then D major, a key hinted in the re-transition.
5:51 [m. 56]--The warm, heartfelt epilogue with triplet rhythms from 1:17 [m. 12] arrives, transposed to D major.  The piano accompaniment continues in the newly established vein, with the flowing, faster arpeggios.  The piano moves to triplets in the second bar.  With the motion of the tune to the piano bass, the cello and the piano right hand are more decorative than they were before, the latter incorporating the triplet rhythm from the epilogue theme itself.  The fourth bar is altered and moves back home to F-sharp major where it had previously shifted to C-sharp for the second “epilogue.”
6:15 [m. 60]--Second “epilogue,” analogous to 1:14 [m. 16], but now in the home key of F-sharp.  The “music box” character is minimized.  The piano plays the tune in octaves against an active low bass in the faster rhythms that have been prominent through the A’ section.  Against this, the cello plays a line derived from the marching figure.  The cello’s own statement of the tune that follows is in its middle range.  The piano moves the faster rhythms to the right hand here and includes some syncopation.  Unlike the A section, the gentle second “epilogue” does move to a complete cadence, but it coincides with the arrival of the coda.
6:37 [m. 63]--The cello begins the pizzicato marching line as at the beginning of both the A and A’ sections.  The piano seems to begin the theme itself, but it is shifted up a fifth and leads to more colorful harmonies.  The intensity quickly builds, and the cello pizzicato is extended, incorporating arpeggios in the faster rhythm, which has not yet been played in pizzicato.  The harmony is highly chromatic, touching on the same areas heard at the end of the re-transition at 4:09 [m. 40].  At the culmination, the theme from the B section, with its distinctive opening leap, is heard in the piano a half-step higher than before, in F-sharp minor.  The theme is immediately shifted to F-sharp major by the cello, and the music settles down.
7:01 [m. 67]--The cello statement of the major transformation of the B section theme moves directly back into the mood and character of the second “epilogue,” whose rocking motions take over in both instruments.  The volume diminishes, and the cello leaps up for its last beautiful cadence as the piano plays its last chords over a slow rising arpeggio.
7:50--END OF MOVEMENT [71 mm.]

3rd Movement: Allegro passionato  (Scherzo and Trio).  F MINOR, 6/8 time.
0:00 [m. 1]--Part 1 (“Exposition”).  The piano, marked mezza voce, begins the passionate, rhythmically fluid scherzo theme, whose outline closely resembles that of the finale from the Third Symphony (and is in the same key).  It is played primarily, but not exclusively, in doubled sixths.  Already at the outset, the left hand, which plays broken octaves in the first and third measures, establishes a clashing duple grouping of notes (implied 3/4) against the prevalent triple (6/8) grouping.  This becomes even more pronounced when the cello enters in the fifth bar with wide leaps that shadow the piano bass.  The sixth and eighth measures move completely to an implied 3/4.  The fifth and sixth measures are repeated and intensified in the seventh and eighth, building to a passionate two-bar extension, also in implied 3/4 meter, that shifts to C minor.
0:11 [m. 11]--The cello takes the lead with a new phrase, an exuberant opening figure leading to a long note.  The piano responds with a cascading descent harmonized in thirds and fourths.  This is repeated with the cello leaping to a higher long note.  Two similar but abbreviated cello statements with piano responses follow.
0:17 [m. 17]--The cello continues its exuberant C-minor phrase, moving to rising scales.  Under this, the piano makes a rhythmic shift.  The sense of two beats per bar in the 6/8 meter is maintained, but the notes are now placed in a duple subdivision, with two notes where there would normally be three, clashing with the rhythm of the cello scales.  Unlike the passages of implied 3/4, these duple subdivisions actually change the length of the notes.  The piano plays forceful, almost angry chords in this new rhythm.  At the end of its rising scales, the cello also moves to this duple subdivision before its cadences.
0:22 [m. 21]--The cello reaches a strong cadence in C minor.  The piano continues with a transition that moves back to F minor.  The forceful chords in the duple rhythm continue in the right hand, moving downward and becoming quiet, while the left hand returns to the regular 6/8 rhythm in galloping three-note figures.
0:26 [m. 25]--The closing phrase of the first part is more restrained.  The cello plays a melancholy line that begins in F minor but immediately moves back to C minor.  Its cadence, decorated with a small trill, is repeated and extended.  The piano plays low bass octaves with right hand responses.  These responses begin with a double third and then leap downward.  The regular 6/8 grouping and subdivision is in force throughout this closing phrase. The repeated cadence is followed by a very brief harmonic transition.
0:35 [m. 33]--Part 2 (“Development”).  The first four bars of the scherzo (mm. 1-4) are repeated with slight alterations.  The cello now plays the low broken octaves that had been played by the left hand, but they remain in the 6/8 grouping.  This frees the left hand to add fuller harmonies to the melody.
0:39 [m. 37]--The repetition breaks with an early motion to the exuberant cello phrase from 0:11 [m. 11], complete with the cascading piano descents.  It now begins in the home key of F minor rather than C minor, the passage with the motion to C minor having been skipped.  The harmony is unstable, however, and the abbreviated statements are more unsettled.  They lead to a more sustained ascent that still uses the turning figures from the main scherzo theme.  This builds up to an arrival on a dissonant “diminished seventh” chord.  The cello holds a high note (F-sharp), while the piano plunges downward, maintaining the dissonant harmony, but diminishing quickly.
0:50 [m. 47]--The piano bass mysteriously begins to mutter below in the turning figures that are typical of the scherzo theme.  Above this muttering, the right hand, also in the low range, makes a harmonic shift toward the key of E minor using its “dominant” chord.  The cello is absent for these bars.
0:55 [m. 51]--E minor is now explicitly indicated with a key signature change.  The first four bars of the scherzo, transposed to that key, are now taken by the cello, the piano adding a galloping accompaniment.  These four bars are followed by a repetition of the mysterious, muttering four bars from 0:50 [m. 47].  The left hand is repeated exactly, but the right hand chords are rhythmically displaced, now played on the weak beats.  The chords themselves are subtly altered to indicate a motion to F-sharp minor.
1:03 [m. 59]--A very intense and harmonically unstable passage begins.  The cello, in its lowest register, maintains the constant turning, neighbor-note motion typical of the theme.  The piano plays full chords on the weakest parts of the 6/8 measure, abruptly inserting jarring downbeat chords before harmonic shifts.  Most of the chords are “dominant” or “diminished seventh” chords.  In four-bar units, the music, steadily building, moves through F-sharp minor, D minor, and B-flat minor.  At this last shift, the key signature moves back to four flats, indicating an impending return to the home key.  Here, the piano left hand also helps to stabilize the galloping rhythm by playing octaves on the strong and weak beats.  The right hand chords move downward instead of upward.
1:16 [m. 71]--The arrival after the unstable passage heralds the return of the material from 0:39 [m. 37], now transposed up a fourth and beginning in B-flat minor.  The entire passage is transposed, including the exuberant cello phrase, the sustained ascent, and the arrival on a “diminished seventh” chord.
1:27 [m. 81]--The mysterious piano bass derived from 0:50 [m. 47] is moved up to a higher level.  The right hand chords, which re-establish the home key of F minor, are now syncopated, entering off the beat before the weak second part of the bar.  These transitional bars lead to the return of the opening material.
1:31 [m. 85]--Part 3 (“Reprise” or “Rounding”).  The opening material is presented with a thicker and more elaborate scoring.  The cello now plays the main melody while the piano provides a new series of chords, alternating between the right and left hands, that forcefully and continually assert the implied 3/4.  The cello continues the melodic presentation at the point where it had entered before in an accompanying role (the fifth measure).  The piano alters its pattern slightly, shifting the first chord of each measure to the left hand and briefly abandoning the implied 3/4 in the fifth and seventh measures.  The two-bar extension is shifted, avoiding the motion to C minor and firmly establishing F minor.
1:42 [m. 95]--Analogous to 0:11 [m. 11], in F minor rather than C minor.  Again, the instruments switch roles.  The piano plays the opening gesture in full harmony, including a chord underneath the long note.  The cello replaces the plunging piano responses with arching arpeggios.
1:48 [m. 101]--Analogous to 0:17 [m. 17].  The role reversal continues with the first scale.  The cello moves to leaping figures in the duple subdivision.  The second scale returns to the original pattern, with the cello playing the scale and the piano playing thick chords in the duple subdivision before the cadence.
1:52 [m. 105]--Analogous to 0:22 [m. 21].  The strong cadence in F minor again leads to the transitional passage, now moving to B-flat minor.  This time, the piano’s chords in the duple subdivision are thicker because the left hand participates in them.  The cello, which dropped out at this point before, takes over the galloping figures in regular 6/8 rhythm that had previously been played by the left hand.
1:57 [m. 109]--A “codetta” is added to round off the main scherzo.  A three-note descent in the piano, with a contrary ascent in the bass, is imitated a fourth below by the cello.  The piano descent is then stretched to a full measure in implied 3/4 while leaping bass octaves maintain the conflicting 6/8 grouping.  This pattern is repeated twice more, each time a step lower.  On the third pattern, the stretched out piano descent leaps up an octave and is fully harmonized, the cello joins in a lower harmony, and the left hand octaves finally join the implied 3/4.  The right hand and cello repeat this twice more, each time a fourth lower.  On the repetitions, the left hand octaves move back to the 6/8 grouping.  The harmonies of this passage move through the circle of fifths to arrive back at F minor.
2:06 [m. 117]--Arriving definitively on F minor, the music moves back to the two-against-three patterns just heard at 1:52 [m. 105].  This time, the cello has the duple subdivision, which it maintains in wide leaps until the final chords.  The piano plays broad arpeggios reaching up to block chords in the regular 6/8 rhythm.  These also continue until the last chords.  There are three of them, all F-minor chords with supporting F’s from the cello in different octaves.  The third chord is delayed by a syncopated pause on a strong beat.  It is followed by a closing low octave F, which ends the scherzo.
2:16 [m. 126]--Transition to Trio.  The three-bar transition repeats the closing octave F, then moves to two outward expanding F-major chords, quickly changing the mode for the onset of the Trio.
TRIO (F major)
2:20 [m. 129]--Part 1.  The first phrase is an untroubled, smooth melody in the cello’s upper range.  It is marked dolce espressivo and has a mostly stepwise, downward contour.  It is also in pure F major.  The last three notes are repeated.  The harmonic and rhythmic interest is in the piano part.  The right hand, with its oscillating motion and repeated lower notes, retains a hint of the implied 3/4 motion characteristic of the main scherzo.  The solid bass octaves, however, anchor the music in 6/8.  In the second half of the phrase, the piano harmonies make a distinct turn toward the minor key, especially as they move lower under the repeated cello notes at the end.
2:29 [m. 137]--In the second phrase, the cello line changes direction and has a rising contour with a yearning quality that is magnified by the chromatic harmonies in the piano.  Both hands are in a solid 6/8 pulse, the right hand moving to block harmonies, mostly thirds, while the left has broken octaves coming after the main beats.  The middle of the phrase turns to C major with a hint of minor.  At the end of the phrase, the piano moves to the quasi-3/4 oscillating motion in both hands, with highly colorful harmonies, as the rising cello line smoothly leads back to F major.
2:38 [m. 129]--Part 1 repeated.  First phrase, as at 2:20.
2:48 [m. 137]--Second phrase, as at 2:29.
2:58 [m. 145]--Part 2.  The key suddenly shifts down to the rather remote D-flat major.  The first phrase combines elements from both Part 1 phrases in the cello part.  The merging of elements, with a half-close leading directly into the second half, results in a seven-bar phrase, the only such irregular phrase in the trio section.  The piano accompaniment in both hands is similar to that of the first phrase from Part 1.
3:07 [m. 152]--The second phrase moves to the even more remote key of G-flat.  Its first half continues in the vein of the D-flat phrase that preceded it.  The second half re-spells G-flat as F-sharp, and the pattern shifts.  The cello moves to oscillating figures that lean into longer notes, while the piano, richly harmonized, moves to the rising element from Part 1 that was just heard in the cello.  The phrase recedes and breaks off, avoiding any close in F-sharp.
3:17 [m. 160]--Re-transition.  A long passage begins that will eventually move to the return of Part 1.  The piano moves to a new pattern of descending broken chords, with the left hand playing in the middle of each bar in another implied 3/4 grouping.  This is undermined by the cello, which plays long descending arpeggios in 6/8 grouping, but holds many notes across strong downbeats.  In the first phrase of this passage, F-sharp becomes the “dominant” of B major/minor, but a strong arrival in that key is avoided.
3:26 [m. 168]--In a very artful harmonic shift, F-sharp slides up to G.  The same pattern continues in both instruments, but Brahms now begins a very slow and steady crescendo.  The trio to this point has only had isolated strong accents.  G serves as the “dominant” of C, which shortly arrives and in turn serves as the preparatory “dominant” for the home key of F.  The music reaches a climax with low C’s on the cello.
3:35 [m. 176]--The last four bars of the re-transition intensify the C-major harmony as a preparation for F major.  The piano descents subtly change rhythm to move toward the regular 6/8 grouping.  The cello soars upward to its high register.  Following the preceding climax, the volume diminishes in preparation for the return of the Part 1 material.
3:40 [m. 180]--The first phrase from Part 1 returns in F major, almost in its entirety, but the last two bars, which contained the three repeated cello notes, are altered,  The cello notes are moved down a third rather than repeated, which intensifies the feeling of a shift toward minor.  The piano is mostly the same, but the last bar is a hollow octave C instead of a full C-major chord.  This assists in eliminating the motion toward C that happened at this point in Part 1.
3:49 [m. 188]---The second phrase makes a brief turn toward B-flat to facilitate the confirmation of F major.  This confirmation takes the place of the previous shift toward C in the second phrase of part 1.  It is reduced to four bars.  The last four bars of the second phrase had served to lead back to F, but in this case, the music is already there, so the phrase is abbreviated and leads into the full repeat of Part 2.
3:55 [m. 145]--Part 2 repeated.  Seven-bar phrase in D-flat combining Part 1 elements, as at 2:58.
4:03 [m. 152]--Phrase in G-flat/F-sharp, as at 3:07.
4:14 [m. 160]--Re-transition.  Passage with F-sharp as “dominant” of B, as at 3:17.
4:23 [m. 168]--Slide up to G and then to C as “dominant” of F with buildup and climax, as at 3:26.
4:32 [m. 176]--End of re-transition, diminishing volume and soaring cello line, as 3:35.
4:37 [m. 180]--First phrase from Part 1 with altered ending, as at 3:40.
4:47 [m. 188]--Altered second phrase from Part 1 with confirmation of F major, as at 3:49.
4:52 [m. 192]--The second phrase is provided with a four-bar completion that was not heard before the repeat.  It appears as if there will be an arrival at an F-major cadence, but the piano right hand comes to a halt, the volume diminishes, and the harmony makes a decisive change from F major to F minor in preparation for the reprise of the main scherzo.  It reaches a suspended pause on dissonant “diminished” harmony [m. 195].  The reprise is not written out, and is indicated with a “Da capo.”
5:02 [m. 1]--Part 1 (“Exposition”).  First phrase of scherzo, mainly presented by the piano, with two-bar extension, as at the beginning.
5:13 [m. 11]--Exuberant phrase in C minor led by cello, as at 0:11.
5:20 [m. 17]--Scales in cello and move to duple subdivision of beat in piano, as at 0:17.
5:24 [m. 21]--C-minor cadence and piano transition back to F minor, as at 0:22.
5:28 [m. 25]--Closing phrase with melancholy cello line, as at 0:26.
5:37 [m. 33]--Part 2 (“Development”).  Slightly altered repetition of first four bars, as at 0:35.
5:52 [m. 37]--Early arrival of cello phrase, then buildup to “diminished” chord and descent, as at 0:39.
5:53 [m. 47]--Mysterious, muttering piano bass and motion to E minor, as at 0:50.
5:57 [m. 51]--First four bars of scherzo in E minor, then motion to F-sharp with muttering bass, as at 0:55.
6:06 [m. 59]--Intense, harmonically unstable passage moving through F-sharp minor, D minor, and B-flat minor, as at 1:03.
6:18 [m. 71]--Transposition of material from 5:52 [or 0:39--m. 37] up a fourth, as at 1:16.
6:29 [m. 81]--Transition re-establishing F minor, as at 1:27.
6:34 [m. 85]--Part 3 (“Reprise” or “Rounding”).  Opening material with thicker scoring, avoiding motion to C minor, as at 1:31.
6:44 [m. 95]--Analogous to 5:13 [or 0:11--m. 11], as at 1:42.
6:50 [m. 101]--Analogous to 5:20 [or 0:17--m. 17], as at 1:48.
6:55 [m. 105]--Analogous to 5:24 [or 0:22--m. 21], as at 1:52.
6:59 [m. 109]--“Codetta” with repeated patterns and motion through circle of fifths, as at 1:57.
7:08 [m. 117]--Three-against-two patterns, then final F-minor chords and F octave, as at 2:06.
7:22--END OF MOVEMENT [195 (+125) mm.]

4th Movement: Allegro molto (Rondo form).  F MAJOR, Cut time (2/2).
0:00 [m. 1]--The extremely amiable and tuneful theme, marked mezza voce, has a leisurely feel despite the “Allegro molto.”  It is is presented in full by the cello, and is distinguished by its opening upbeat and the leap up from that upbeat.  It then settles into the rhythmic pattern of a quarter note followed by two eighths (long-short-short), which is also used by the accompanying piano chords.  These are set quite low, with the right hand in the tenor range and the left hand in the low bass.  Some variety is created by the chromatic note E-flat at the beginning of the third and fifth measures and the full repetition of the sixth measure as the seventh.  The theme comes to a full cadence at the ninth measure, but the next statement has already begun.
0:15 [m. 9]--A new statement of the theme begins on the upbeat to the ninth measure, as the first cello statement is coming to its cadence.  This so-called “elision” preserves the regular phrase structure even though the theme has an “extra” measure due to the repetition in the sixth and seventh measures.  The piano right hand, now in the treble range, takes the melodic lead in this second statement.  The left hand plays rising triplet arpeggios that conflict with the straight rhythm of the melody.  These arpeggios become more regular after the first two measures, where they pause halfway through the bar.  The cello also plays triplet figures, its first arching ones responding to the piano left hand.  After the first two bars, the cello responses to the left hand are more continually active.  The cello moves briefly to “straight” rhythm halfway through the phrase and to a more solid bass line in the richly harmonized measure before the cadence.  The melodic line in the repeated measures is altered, making a brief turn to D minor before the approach to the cadence.
0:31 [m. 17]--Transition.  The F-major cadence arrives after a brief buildup, and is a satisfying moment of restrained jubilation.  This cadence merges directly into a new “codetta” that serves as a transitional melody.  The jubilant mood continues for two measures, with a fully harmonized piano melody and a solid cello bass.  The jubilant material begins to turn harmonically in the third measure.  Its characteristic two-note rising figures become a steady pulse in an inner voice, and are briefly grouped in three-beat units.  After four bars, the key of A minor is reached after the music passes through its “dominant” harmonies.
0:41 [m. 23]--The piano starkly emerges in triple octaves.  These octaves begin with a syncopated downward leap in long notes followed by rising scale figures.  The cello pulsates under this with distinct rhythmic figures where a double stop leaps down to a low A that behaves like a “pedal point.”  After a repetition of the syncopated leap down, the scale figures begin as before, but suddenly and decisively shift the key to E minor.  The arrival on E minor is followed by two quieter bars of material in that key, with a thumping pedal point in the piano bass, clashing triplet runs in inner voice of the right hand and, in opposing motion to this, detached cello notes in “straight” rhythm.  Another firm E-minor arrival follows.
0:52 [m. 29]--The first part of the previous phrase is repeated and varied.  The cello takes over the syncopated downward leap and the following scale figures.  Its notes are the same as the piano octaves until the end of the second set of scale figures.  The piano chords that accompany are of the same character as the previous cello pulsations, but the harmony is more chromatic and wandering  The key of the passage seems to still be A minor, but there are strong hints of other keys.  The alteration at the end of the cello line and its accompanying piano chord leads to another sudden, decisive shift, now to C major.
0:59 [m. 33]--As before, the harmonic shift is followed by triplet runs over a low pedal point.  Because of the major key, the triplets are of a more jubilant character than the earlier triplet passage in E minor.  This time, the triplet figures, all generally rising, are passed from the cello to the piano, whose left hand quickly moves away from the pedal point C.  Detached notes in “straight” rhythm are present in the right hand, then the left.  Then the cello plays two triplet runs beginning at a lower level against piano chords that seem to move briefly to G minor.
1:06 [m. 37]--Re-transition.  The piano takes over the triplet runs, now in both hands and a mixture of scales and arpeggios.  After playing two pizzicato chords, the cello has another triplet run against strong piano chords passed from the left hand to a syncopated right hand.  The hints at G minor and other keys continue, but when the piano begins its colorful, somewhat chromatic triplet runs again after the chords, it becomes clear that C major has been converted to the preparatory “dominant” of F major.  The piano triplets dissipate after the cello plucks four low C’s.  A brief pause precedes the return of the rondo theme.
1:20 [m. 45]--The cello again plays the rondo theme as at the beginning.  While the left hand of the piano maintains the throbbing low notes in long-short-short rhythm, the right hand continues the triplet patterns, now arpeggios, from the previous section, clashing with the rhythm of the theme and making it more dynamic.  As the cello approaches the cadence, the volume suddenly diminishes, and the formerly decisive cadence is converted into a gentle rise in long, full-measure notes.  Under this, the colorful piano harmony makes a hint at A major, then A minor, before finally confirming the cadence on F major.  This, however, is immediately changed to F minor in the following arpeggio.
1:38 [m. 54]--In three transitional bars, the continuing triplet arpeggios in the piano, moving down from the high register, along with a slow reminiscence of the theme’s cadence figure in the cello, make a motion toward the key of the second contrasting section, B-flat minor.  In the left hand, low bass notes alternate with higher harmonies.
1:44 [m. 57]--The new theme, presented by the cello, is plaintive, with a sighing melody and “leaning” descents.  The piano accompaniment is characterized by slow triplets in quarter notes (implied 6/4 meter against the cello’s 4/4) in the tenor range.  The first four-bar half-phrase reaches a cadence in B-flat minor, the only full “home key” cadence in the entire contrasting episode.  The second half of the phrase makes a brighter turn and moves to a cadence in A-flat major.
2:00 [m. 65]--The theme continues with a new and extended phrase.  The cello melody becomes more passionate and yearning.  It breaks into an upward-striving line, and the piano moves to straight-rhythm accompaniment against it.  The striving line extends the phrase, and there is a brief cadence on D-flat major (the “relative” key to B-flat minor) in the fifth measure.  The phrase is then extended even more, to a total of twelve bars.  The cello’s lines become even more restless, and the piano freely moves between the quarter-note triplets and longer chords.  At the end of the phrase, B-flat minor is again attained, but a cadence is carefully avoided.  At the very end, the piano right hand moves to the faster triplet arpeggios in eighth notes that are characteristic of the previous re-transition and statement of the rondo theme.
2:26 [m. 77]--The cello moves to a four-note descent in B-flat minor, again avoiding a cadence.  The note F, the “dominant” in this key, is held expectantly for two measures.  The piano continues with the faster triplet arpeggios moving up the keyboard.  The cello descent is repeated with the piano triplets moving back down.  There is one last descent, this time beginning with the long-held F.  The descent and the piano arpeggios change the key again, to G-flat major, where the next statement of the rondo theme will be stated.  A full cadence in B-flat minor has been almost cruelly averted and avoided.
2:41 [m. 85]--The statement of the Rondo theme in G-flat, a half-step higher than the home key, is unusual, but consistent with the previous role of F-sharp (the same note differently spelled) in the other movements.  This appearance of the theme has a more mellow character, partly due to the key, which is less bright.  The piano part is very similar to its statement at 0:15 [m. 9] in both hands.  The cello, however, is completely changed, playing pizzicato throughout the statement.  Two descending arpeggios replace the arching ones from the earlier piano statement.  The plucked cello then moves to the long-short-short rhythm of the theme, providing it with a bass.
2:56 [m. 92]--At the point where the theme’s satisfying cadence would be expected, there is a sudden diversion and elaboration on the identical sixth and seventh measures.  The meditation on the music from these measures is used for a long motion back home to F major.  First, G-flat is re-spelled as F-sharp and slides into minor.  From there, the key moves to G major, then G minor.  The left hand continues playing in triplet arpeggios, and the cello continues plucking.  The regular pulse is somewhat obscured by longer groupings.  Another motion to D minor is implied as the music becomes more forceful and returns to the long-short-short rhythm.  The cello also takes the bow at this point, playing wide arpeggios.  D minor never actually arrives, but the music instead pivots easily back to F for a delayed return of the “jubilant” cadence.
3:05 [m. 96]--The transitional “codetta” from 0:31 [m. 17] returns.  Its arrival is even more jubilant for having been delayed by the diversion and key changes.  It is the same length as its earlier appearance, and the instruments largely play in the same manner, especially the “pulsing” two-note rising figures in the inner voice, but the harmonies and arrivals are changed to facilitate a motion to D minor instead of A minor.  The changes are subtle and begin after the first measure, introducing the new direction in the third.
3:16 [m. 102]--Analogous to 0:41 [m. 23].  The setting of the theme in D minor means that the low cello note that alternates with double stops and acts like a pedal point is now D.  The key change is now to, rather than from A minor.  The material with the triplets in the inner voice is in that key, as is the subsequent arrival point.
3:27 [m. 108]--Analogous to 0:52 [m. 29].  The decisive key change is now to the home key of F major.
3:34 [m. 112]--Analogous to 0:59 [m. 33].  The brief motion at the end is to C minor.
3:42 [m. 116]--Re-transition.  The first two bars, with the piano triplets and the pizzicato chords, are analogous to 1:06 [m. 37].  After this, the triplet run is transferred to the piano left hand from the cello, and the cello plays double stops alternating with the syncopated right hand, taking the left hand’s previous role.  The material then deviates more substantially.  With no key change necessary, Brahms instead luxuriates in another digression.  The piano triplet runs that took place here are moved to the cello, and the piano adds harmonies to these, also in triplet rhythm.  Hints are made toward the “subdominant” key, B-flat major.  From that point, there is no real analog to the previous passage.  The cello and piano come together in a triplet run that builds in volume and moves to the minor key.
3:52 [m. 122]--At the point of climax, the piano breaks into loud syncopated chords against rising triplet arpeggios in the cello whose end notes are held over bar lines.  After two bars, the piano chords speed up, leaping up and down and abandoning the syncopation.  The chords and arpeggios move through colorful harmonies such as G-flat major, E-flat minor, and D-flat major before finally landing on C, which serves as a pedal point.  The top notes of the top chords basically move down by step.  Following the arrival on C, the volume rapidly diminishes, the cello drops out, and the piano dissolves into upward triplet arpeggios that are highly chromatic, but remain anchored by the C pedal point, leading into the final rondo statement.
4:04 [m. 129]--The cello’s entrance on the upbeat is very surreptitious, coming against the stream of upward piano arpeggios.  It presents the theme in an entirely new light, playing it pizzicato.  Not only that, but the rhythm is changed so that what were formerly “straight” eighth notes are now played as “scotch snaps,” short-long rhythms on the beat.  The piano, meanwhile, seamlessly leads into a very light accompaniment of downward-arching arpeggios in the right hand and detached bass notes in the left.  The piano is marked molto leggiero and non legato.  Brahms wanted to make sure the piano does not overpower the pizzicato cello, so he explicitly indicated that the damper pedal should not be used.  In case the cellist cannot make the pizzicato work, he also allowed the option of very soft staccato with the bow, but no self-respecting cellist would do this.  The theme “stalls” at the fifth measure on the chromatic note E-flat, and the “scotch snap” upbeat into it is repeated.
4:14 [m. 135]--The upbeat “scotch snap” is repeated again, this time suddenly much louder and with the bow.  What follows is a four-bar expansion of the theme’s fifth bar, where the pizzicato had stalled.  It is stretched out in long cello notes.  The piano right hand changes to a harmonized descending scale pattern in “straight” rhythm while the arching triplet arpeggios move to the left hand bass.  Brahms also ventures afield harmonically, using the chromatic E-flat to move to B-flat, then to A-flat over the course of this diversion.    The piano pauses, the cello makes an upward leap, slowing before descending again, and the piano re-enters with arpeggios on dissonant “diminished” chords, the rhythm still clashing between the hands.  The slowing continues as the “diminished” harmonies lead back to F major.
4:22 [m. 139]--Brahms pulls things together with a return to the stalled theme in the cello, which resumes with the repeated music in the sixth and seventh measures.  He marks it vivace to emphasize the exuberance of the closing.  The piano right hand now plays wide, upward arching triplet arpeggios against it, with full left hand chords between punctuating C’s and F’s.  The theme reaches its cadence as the piano motion briefly stops.  The cadence is more satisfying and jubilant than ever, and is followed by a sweeping triplet arpeggio in the piano, the hands moving in opposite directions.  The cello joins and harmonizes the right hand at the end of its arpeggio, continuing into the two final downward leaping F-major chords.
4:35--END OF MOVEMENT [144 mm.]