Recording: Melos Quartet (Wilhelm Melcher, 1st Violin; Gerhard Voss, 2nd violin; Hermann Voss, viola; Peter Buck, cello) [DG 423 670-2]
Published 1876.  Dedicated to “his friend” Professor Theodor Wilhelm Engelmann in Utrecht.

Having toiled at length on the First Symphony, whose completion was finally approaching, Brahms diverted himself with this confident return to another hallowed genre.  Like the Third Piano Quartet, it is a single example of a form in which he had previously published a pair of works closely together.  He approached that form with serious post-Beethoven logic in the C-minor and A-minor works published three years earlier as Op. 51.  Now Brahms seems to throw off those shackles and hark back to Mozart (more specifically that composer’s “Hunt” Quartet, K. 458 in the same key of B-flat).  This last quartet is full of extreme compositional virtuosity, but it is virtuosity in which its composer clearly took great satisfaction, even seeming to congratulate himself on his efforts in the coda of the final variation movement.  Brahms’s previous forays into cyclical composition include elements in the three early piano sonatas and the end of the German Requiem.  Here, he takes the main theme of his first movement and manages to transform it into the last two variations of his finale.  Not only that, but the finale’s variation theme itself, in a seemingly insignificant viola triplet line, reveals the potential for adapting it to the 6/8 first movement theme.  The later cyclic returns in the First Violin Sonata would be more extensive, and those of the Third Symphony more subtle, but the overt and natural way Brahms does it here, concealing the effort required, is uniquely satisfying.  The opening movement itself exploits the combination of “compound” 6/8 meter and “simple” 2/4 meter in the dichotomy of its two main themes, the “hunting call” and the jaunty dance, later bringing them together.  Distinctive characteristics of the beautiful slow movement are its agitated central section and the “false” return of the main theme in the wrong key.  The third movement intermezzo has an extensive structure like that of the C-minor quartet.  The viola is the lead instrument in this melancholy waltz, and Brahms achieves a wonderfully odd effect by muting the other three instruments.  This stays in force even when the first violin, for example, takes the lead role.  This was the first time Brahms closed an instrumental work with variations, and he would do it again in the Clarinet Quintet (where he also returns to the opening of the first movement, albeit as a coda and not one of the actual variations) and the Second Clarinet Sonata.  As joyous and impressive as this quartet is, the composer must have found the genre too restrictive.  In his remaining 20 years of compositional activity, his only chamber works without piano use five instruments.  Thus, as with the piano sonata, the violin sonata (whose first example was four years later), the piano trio, and the piano quartet, this is another genre with three contributions by Brahms.

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

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

1st Movement:
Vivace (Sonata-Allegro form). B-FLAT MAJOR, 6/8 and 2/4 time.
0:00 [m. 1]--Theme 1.  In a “hunting” 6/8 rhythm, the second violin and viola quietly but confidently play a harmonized call, with accents on the weaker third and sixth notes of the first measure.  Then all four instruments respond with the same figure, much louder, again with accents on the third and sixth notes of the first measure.  Once again, the second violin and viola lead quietly with a second phrase, this time without the disruptive accents, and it is repeated forcefully by all four instruments.
0:12 [m. 9]--Beginning with the last part of the preceding measure, the second violin and viola now change the 6/8 feel to a 3/4 feel, from two beats divided into three parts to three beats divided into two parts.  The music is still notated in 6/8.  The second violin plays strongly accented notes, with a repetition and then a descent, against the leaping viola.  Keeping with the pattern, all four instruments echo this at a louder level, now with the first violin and cello playing the longer notes.  The second violin and viola play the leaping notes again, but with ambiguous groupings that could be in either two or three notes.
0:17 [m. 13]--The second violin now moves upward chromatically, by half-step, again with the 3/4 grouping, against the leaping viola.  This upward chromatic motion is taken in the forceful echo by the first violin, the cello joining the second violin and viola on the leaping motion with ambiguous grouping.
0:22 [m. 17]--In a fifth and final alternation, the 6/8 feel is fully restored.  A swinging descent in the second violin is played against three-note rising arpeggios in the viola that briefly suggest the “relative” G minor.  In the response, the first violin plays the descent, harmonized by second violin and viola, and the cello the three-note arpeggios.  At the arrival point, the second violin and viola begin the original “hunting” call before the first violin soars upward in a rapid B-flat scale, the cello playing arpeggios against it.  This pattern is heard again, with both the “hunting” call and the scale reaching a third higher.  The hunting figures become continuous under shorter scale fragments until the first violin arches up and back down.
0:33 [m. 25]--Transition.  The two violins now play the “hunting” figure before the viola and cello descend, with the viola playing scales at twice the speed of the cello’s arpeggios.  Notes from the minor key are introduced.  The pattern is repeated a third higher.  Then all four instruments exuberantly take the “hunting” call, placing strong disruptive accents on the third and sixth notes of the next two measures.  These arrive emphatically on the “dominant” key, F major, where the instruments play four quickly descending scale figures, the first with two instruments, the second and third with three, and the last with all four (the cello added last).  This last scale with all four instruments has eight notes instead of the six in the other three.
0:41 [m. 31]--Quickly quieting down, the first violin begins to undulate on the adjacent notes C and D, punctuated by the other instruments.  After a measure of this, the second violin and viola play figures in the “hunting” rhythm against the continuing undulation.  The first violin then breaks its undulation, rising and falling against smooth harmonies, still incorporating elements of the undulation.  Finally, the second violin takes the leading role, playing a smoothly arching dolce melody against the first violin, which now reaches up and down in fast arpeggios, and held notes in viola and cello.  This reaches closure and a brief pause.
0:52 [m. 39]--Now beginning halfway through the measure with a sudden accent before quieting down, the first violin undulates again, this time on a half-step.  The second violin and cello enter against it, zigzagging down.  Notes are introduced that first suggest F minor, then its “relative” A-flat major.  The first violin breaks from its undulation into a series of highly decorative figures, including motion up and down, both stepwise and arpeggiated.  The other instruments provide a smooth background, the viola introducing mild syncopation.  This continues with new minor-key harmonies.  The viola emerges in a questioning gesture leading back to F minor/major against widely arching first violin arpeggios.
1:07 [m. 50]--Very quietly, and in F minor, the second violin and cello play in unison the smoothly arching melody first heard in the second violin before 0:52 [m. 39].  After two measures, the first violin and viola enter.  The smoothly arching melody is repeated, now with the two violins in unison and the viola and cello, also in unison, playing in exact contrary motion (“inversion”) to the violins.  The second measure of this is repeated, then appears to repeat again, but this last repetition is diverted to a unison F (the second violin dropping out).  This unison F is played two more times in syncopation.
1:17 [m. 58]--The last unison F leads into a “false start” of Theme 2 in F major.  The meter changes to 2/4, and the jaunty melody with long-short-short rhythm begins in the first violin, harmonized by second violin and cello with viola punctuations.  But this is cut off after two measures by the 6/8 meter and the previous minor-key material.  This quickly lands again on the unison F, and after three measures, the 2/4 meter again asserts itself for the actual beginning of Theme 2.
1:24 [m. 63]--Theme 2 (F major, 2/4 time).  The jaunty but quiet melody begins again, with its distinctively leaping long-short-short rhythm.    It now continues, adding syncopated notes held over bar lines.  The second violin drops out after three measures, and the viola joins on the long-short-short rhythm for three more measures.  The “jaunty” rhythm then breaks off, and the first violin introduces a broader melody that sweeps down, suggesting A major and gradually increasing in volume.  It now reaches a fourth higher with this broader idea, then another fifth higher (an octave above the original level), a forte volume level now having been achieved.  This quickly recedes as the first violin swoops back down in the F major area.
1:40 [m. 75]--Again hushed, all four instruments play a harmonized fragment from the “bottom” portion of the broader melody.  It almost too easily vacillates between A major and F major as it marches down.  It then breaks off.  With pauses on the downbeats of three straight measures, the instruments entering after each silent downbeat, there is a halting but gentle and charming cadence back in F major.
1:49 [m. 81]--Closing material.  The first violin again begins the “jaunty” melody, with fragments of the broader idea below.  The second violin then imitates the “jaunty” idea with the first violin moving to the “broader” melody.  This breaks off, and the first violin emerges into a continuous series of faster 16th notes in two-note slurs, with the first note of each slur repeating the second note of the last.  These reach up, then emerge into wider leaps.  Against them, the viola plays fragments of the broader idea, the second violin plays syncopated figures, and the cello has off-beat punctuations.  This continues for seven measures before the other three instruments break off and leave the first violin alone.
2:02 [m. 92]--The first violin continues alone, still retaining the repeated notes between slurs, but steadily working downward.  After five measures, as the first violin approaches a cadence, the second violin enters, but surprisingly it is in 6/8 time (going against the prevailing 2/4) and playing the original “hunting” material from Theme 1.  After another measure, the cello enters, imitating the first violin’s cadence motion while that instrument continues downward.  The imitation continues as the first violin moves back to its original level, all while the second violin continues the 6/8 “hunting” gesture.  Finally, the viola enters in unison with the first violin as that instrument moves up an octave and the cello moves down one.
2:12 [m. 101]--After steadily building up under the second violin’s 6/8 entry and the cadence imitations, all four instruments suddenly come together in a powerful unison on the 6/8 “hunting” rhythm that the second violin had established.  After quickly working down, they suddenly break off without a complete cadence, allowing a full-measure rest to serve as the first ending (m. 103a) before the exposition repeat
2:16 [m. 1]--Theme 1 opening with “hunting” calls and responses.
2:26 [m. 9]--3/4 “feel” with accented notes, as at 0:12.
2:32 [m. 13]--Chromatic upward motion in violins, as at 0:17.
2:37 [m. 17]--Restoration of 6/8 feel with swinging descent, rising arpeggios, and rapid first violin scales against the original “hunting” rhythm, as at 0:22.
2:48 [m. 25]--Transition.  Motion to F major culminating in rapid descending scales, as at 0:33.
2:55 [m. 31]--Undulating motion and dolce melody, as at 0:41.
3:06 [m. 39]--Continuing undulation, decorative figures, minor-key harmonies, and questioning gesture with widely arching arpeggios, as at 0:52.
3:20 [m. 50]--F-minor presentation of smoothly arching melody, then arrival on unison F, as at 1:07.
3:31 [m. 58]--“False start” of Theme 2 cut off by minor-key material in 6/8, as at 1:17.
3:38 [m. 63]--Theme 2.  Jaunty F-major melody in 2/4 time, then broader melody, as at 1:24.
3:54 [m. 75]--Fragments of broader melody, gentle and charming F-major cadence, as at 1:40.
4:03 [m. 81]--Closing material.  Jaunty melody with fragments of broader melody, then first violin emergence into continuing 16th notes, as at 1:49.
4:16 [m. 92]--First violin continuation alone, then second violin entry in 6/8 and cello imitation, as at 2:02.
4:26 [m. 101]--Powerful unison on 6/8 “hunting” rhythm, as at 2:12.  The “pause” after the breakoff is now only half a measure.
4:29 [m. 103, second ending]--The first violin and viola quietly echo the last three notes before the breakoff, then pause and echo them again.  The second violin and cello join on a drone harmony while the other two instruments echo the three notes two more times in close succession.  Then all four instruments come together on a harmonized arching line in long-short rhythm, marked sotto voce.  As they arch up and back down, they arrive on D minor (“relative” to F major, where they ended the exposition).  They then arch up and back down again, making a harmonic shift and key change to A minor, with a full arrival there.
4:44 [m. 114]--After the arrival on A minor, the first violin and viola shift the key again and play the three-note echo a third higher than before.  This time, the other instruments join right after the pause, and the three-note figure is played one additional time for a total of five.  This creates a slightly longer pause before a new statement of the sotto voce arching motion, which now begins in F minor, then shifts on the second wave to a full arrival on C minor.
5:00 [m. 126]--The first violin and viola echo the three-note figure yet again and again a third higher.  But this time the continuation is a meditation on Theme 1 in the distant key of F-sharp major, marked molto dolce sempre.  The key signature changes to three sharps here.  The first violin begins the meditation, harmonized by the other instruments, the cello providing a solid bass.  The second violin and viola then continue in harmony.  There is some mild syncopation.  The first violin takes over again, and once again passes to the second violin and viola under its syncopation, and there is a brief diversion to D major.
5:11 [m. 135]--Re-establishing F-sharp major, the first violin begins to swing back and forth over a slow harmonic background.  With more mild syncopation, it approaches an arrival point.  This is immediately diverted again, this time toward G.  The first violin descends in syncopation against the Theme 1 material in second violin and viola, this time marked diminuendo e calando, fading away to an extremely quiet level.  Shifting back to F-sharp, the viola plays the swinging motion while the first violin slows down and leaps up two octaves.  Two slower gestures, stretching out the swinging motion, lead toward a full cadence.
5:32 [m. 149]--The meter abruptly shifts to 2/4, and Theme 2 is now subject to development, beginning in F-sharp major.  All instruments except the first violin begin the Theme 2 music, and then the first violin enters against it with a widely downward-sweeping line.  The Theme 2 material picks up again in all instruments, becoming harmonically active, propelled by the cello.  The key center moves from F-sharp through A major, C major, and E minor, building and becoming agitated.
5:45 [m. 161]--Another harmonic wrench upward leads to G minor, which is also indicated by a change in the key signature to two flats (same as the home key, B-flat major).  A highly restless episode follows, with octave leaps in the Theme 2 rhythm passed between the instruments, viola to second violin to first violin, while the cello provides a marching bass.  The sequence is heard again at a higher level.
5:52 [m. 167]--Suddenly, the second violin and viola begin to play in triplet rhythm, equivalent to the 6/8 meter, on material like the arching line at the beginning of the development.  Meanwhile, the cello joins the agitated Theme 2 exchanges.  Almost immediately, that instrument also, along with the first violin, takes up the triplet figures while the other two play the leaping Theme 2 figures.  The triplets are then abandoned as the first violin reaches very high, and the instruments descend on syncopated rhythms and Theme 2 fragments toward another strong arrival on G minor.
6:00 [m. 175]--At the arrival point, the triplets return in first violin and cello, and are then passed to second violin and viola.  These are always played against the Theme 2 fragments.  The descent on syncopated rhythms follows again, this time with the instruments re-arranged.  Most notably, the violin parts are reversed, with the second violin set lower.  The arrival point is abruptly cut off with a full-measure rest.
6:11 [m. 184]--The 6/8 meter returns, and so does the sotto voce arching line, now beginning in G minor.  Following the pattern, the second wave appears to move toward an arrival on D minor, but this is averted by a half-step motion in the first violin.
6:21 [m. 192]--Re-transition.  With the averted arrival, the instruments now meditate on the arching motion, moving back home to B-flat major in preparation for the recapitulation.  After two waves, the violins move higher, and Brahms indicates both a slowing and a diminishing volume (dim. e rit. poco a poco).  Two more waves lead to a sweeping violin descent against rising viola and cello.  This is repeated, breaking off before an anticipated cadence in B-flat, marked with a fermata.  The actual arrival is the sudden and satisfying original presentation of Theme 1 that follows.
6:40 [m. 205]--Theme 1.  The first call from the second violin and viola is heard as at the beginning, as is the response with all four instruments.  The second phrase from the two instruments is also presented without change.  Its response, however, is deftly varied.  The first violin is an octave higher, and the contour of the cello line is adjusted.  But most importantly, the direction is altered to remove an upward jump at the end and move continuously downward, with the key moving toward the “relative” G minor.
6:51 [m. 213]--The exchange with the 3/4 “feel” and accented notes follows as at 0:12 and 2:26 [m. 9] but with a different key center.  This G minor of the preceding altered arrival is changed to G major for this exchange.  The response with all four instruments is additionally varied, adding leaps in the first violin.
6:56 [m. 217]--The chromatic upward motion in the 3/4 grouping follows, as at 0:17 and 2:32 [m. 13], but both the initial statement from second violin with leaping viola and the response are more harmonically active and not placed where expected.  The initial call seems to move from G toward C, while the response moves further toward F (the “dominant,” which would not be expected in Theme 1 of the recapitulation).  The response also reinforces the first violin motion with the second violin and viola, with only the cello playing the leaping motion.
7:01 [m. 221]--The final alternation is not only changed from its statements at 0:22 and 2:37 [m. 17] but also extended.  The swinging descent is heard in the second violin with viola triplets, as expected, but in F major instead of B-flat.  The response begins as expected, but after four notes the descent is arrested, and those four notes are repeated an octave lower.  At the same time, the cello drops out, leaving the arpeggios to the viola, and the second violin enters in imitation against the first, beginning the four-note descent a step higher.  This imitation and exchange between the violins continues, with the first violin, then the second, bringing it up another step each.  This extension appears to move back toward G.
7:08 [m. 226]--There now follows the full response to the original swinging descent, but it is the original one as heard in the exposition, landing on B-flat major as it had done there.  Thus, all these key shifts and changes in Theme 1 have been for variation and interest, not for the sake of structure.  The rising scales against the “hunting” call do not follow immediately, however.  Brahms instead inserts an emphasizing gesture with the top three instruments leaping down in the “hunting” rhythm.
7:14 [m. 230]--The scale figures happen now against the hunting calls, but they are diverted to the key of E-flat.  This key, the “subdominant,” is expected, since it will allow the transition to move toward B-flat for Theme 2 (which is typically in the home key in the recapitulation) as it had toward F in the exposition.  The scale figures are reduced to two, however, and they each have a downward turn at the end.  The shorter scale fragments and the arching first violin are omitted.  They are replaced by leaping gestures in the “hunting” rhythm in all instruments except the first violin.  These remain in E-flat, turning upward.
7:18 [m. 234]--Transition.  It begins like 0:33 and 2:48 [m. 25] but it is abbreviated.  The two statements of the “hunting” figure are varied, with the second violin taking the scale descent on the first, then passing it to the viola on the second.  The exuberant eruption of the hunting figure with the disruptive accents is omitted, and the four quickly descending scale fragments follow directly, in the home key of B-flat major.
7:24 [m. 238]--From this point, with the firm establishment of the home key in the transition, the presentation more closely matches that of the exposition.  The undulating motion begins as at 0:41 and 2:55 [m. 31], but the distribution of the material among the instruments is different.  The viola, not the first violin, plays the undulation and its continuation, and the cello takes the role previously taken by the viola.  The smoothly arching dolce melody is played by the first violin instead of the second.
7:35 [m. 246]-- The continuing undulation, decorative figures, minor-key harmonies, and questioning gesture with widely arching arpeggios follow, as at 0:52 and 3:06 [m. 39], but the roles of the second violin and viola are now reversed throughout.  The mild syncopation and the questioning gesture itself are in the second violin instead of the viola.
7:49 [m. 257]--The quiet unison statement of the smoothly arching melody, followed by its repetition against contrary motion, is heard in B-flat minor, analogous to 1:07 and 3:20 [m. 50].  The second violin and viola continue to play mostly in reversed roles from before.  Again, there is an arrival on a syncopated unison note, now B-flat.
8:00 [m. 265]--The “false start” of Theme 2 in 2/4 cut off by the minor-key 6/8 material follows, analogous to 1:17 and 3:31 [m. 58], with the second violin and viola still reversing their previous roles.
8:07 [m. 270]--Theme 2 in B-flat major, 2/4 time.  Its presentation is analogous to 1:24 and 3:38 [m. 63].  In the second measure, the second violin and viola subtly return to their original roles from the exposition.  The third and final statement of the broad downward sweeping idea is changed to begin at a lower level, apparently to prevent the first violin from reaching too noticeably high.  A narrower, straighter scale descent serves to return it to its original level.
8:23 [m. 282]--Fragments of the broader melody lead to the gentle and charming cadence, analogous to 1:40 and 3:54 [m. 75].  The cadence itself is subtly, but beautifully varied.  The first violin reaches higher in its isolated notes, serenely leaping down.  This leaves the second violin to play the actual cadence with its distinctive grace note.
8:32 [m. 288]--Closing material, analogous to 1:49 and 4:03 [m. 81].  It begins as in the exposition, but with the higher transposition to B-flat, the first violin makes a register shift right before its continuous 16th notes, moving them lower than they were before.  Just before this, and probably because of the lower first violin, the second violin and viola once again seamlessly move to a reversal of their previous parts.
8:45 [m. 299]--The first violin continues alone, analogous to 2:02 and 4:16 [m. 92].  The second violin makes its entrance on the 6/8 “hunting” material (resuming its original role).  There is redistribution of the other instruments.  The first violin itself leaps up and plays the imitation previously taken by the cello, with the viola entering to continue the original downward line.  The first violin quickly returns to the original line with the viola in unison, the cello now entering with its original role on the imitation.
8:56 [m. 308]--Powerful unison on 6/8 “hunting” rhythm, analogous to 2:12 and 4:26 [m. 101].  A half-measure pause follows before the transition into the coda.
8:59 [m. 310]--The quiet echoes follow as at the beginning of the development section, but they are at different pitch levels, first lower, then higher, and they are harmonized in all four instruments.  They also shift keys along the “circle of fifths,” first to E-flat, then to A-flat.  After these first two interjections, separated by pauses, the viola and cello are changed to 2/4 meter, the violins remaining in 6/8.  The violins resume the hunting figures, making them continuous and steadily rising, while the lower two instruments begin to play the jaunty rhythm from Theme 2.  They continue this as the violins rise upward on long notes, and the key makes another shift, to D-flat.  All of this occurs over a rapid buildup in volume.
9:06 [m. 316]--The chromatic upward motion of the long violin notes has moved the music back to B-flat.  Although the viola and cello are still in 2/4, they now take up the notes of Theme 1 in unison, doubled in length.  They are notated in quarter-note triplets, one for each of the two bars.  These lengthened notes make a return to the “3/4 feel,” adding yet another layer of rhythmic complexity.  Against this, the violins play a syncopated descending line in harmony, still in 6/8, but resembling the 16th notes from the closing material.  After a pause, the upward harmonic sequence is played again in the violins, but it is compressed, without the pauses and with shorter rising notes.  The viola and cello return to Theme 2 figures.
9:13 [m. 322]--Now the first violin plays the lengthened Theme 1 notes with the “3/4 feel,” but since it is still in 6/8, there is no triplet notation.  The viola joins the second violin on the syncopated descending line, but the viola, still in 2/4 is notated in triplets to match the 6/8 second violin.  The cello plays leaping octaves on F.  After two measures, the second violin changes meter to 2/4, leaving only the first violin in 6/8.  The second violin and viola play the “original” 16th-note descents from the closing material.  The first violin returns to the “regular” 6/8 Theme 1 figures, the cello now leaping in syncopation.
9:17 [m. 326]--Now the first violin changes to 2/4, placing all four instruments in that meter.  The two violins, in harmony, now play the 16th notes from the closing material, with their two-note slurs and repeated notes.  Surprisingly, the viola and cello now take up the Theme 1 “hunting” material, but Brahms keeps them in 2/4, notating the rhythm in triplets.  These two clashing, juxtaposed elements continue for six measures, with the violins descending and ascending in waves with upward leaps, gradually working to a high level.  The viola and cello in triplets become wider, steadily working downward.
9:25 [m. 332]--In the last two measures of the phrase, the violins plunge downward in the 16th notes while the viola and cello arrest their triplet motion, playing solid punctuating leaps and chords in their 2/4 division.  These measures prepare for the return of 6/8 and Theme 1 in all four instruments.
9:28 [m. 334]--With the full return of 6/8, the second violin and viola begin Theme 1 as at the beginning, complete with the weak-note accents, but they are interrupted by the entry of the first violin and cello.  The presentation is continued with even more emphatic accents on the weaker notes.  The second violin and viola again emerge with their presentation, now with cello support, even extending it slightly higher.  The first violin enters, and the strong continuation is also extended higher, with the cello playing a rising arpeggio.  The instruments break off before the two closing chords, which bring this rhythmically and metrically complex, but utterly delightful movement to a joyously satisfying close.
9:41--END OF MOVEMENT [340 mm.]

2nd Movement: Andante (ABA’ form with “false” return).  F MAJOR, 4/4 time, with two measures of 5/4.

A Section
0:00 [m. 1]--A two-measure introduction precedes the main theme.  It is led by the second violin, which provides a “preview” of the theme’s opening.  The first notes of the arching melody are played, with the second and fourth notes greatly extended.  The other instruments add their own gloss to this preview, emphasizing the rising thirds from A to C and from F to A.  The motion passed from the cello to the viola under the first long note in the second violin merges seamlessly into that instrument’s melodic continuation.  The first violin emerges into a rising chromatic line under the second long note.
0:11 [m. 3]--The first violin now takes over with the full presentation of the tender cantabile theme in F major.  The first phrase arches up and back down, then reaches up to another descent, punctuated by a grace note and some chromatic motion.  Under this, the second violin and viola play chords in a pulsing syncopation, with the cello providing a foundational bass.  The second, “answering” phrase makes a very brief harmonic detour up a step to G.  After a downward leap, the melodic line shifts toward the “dominant” harmony on C, punctuating this with a rising triplet and another downward leap.
0:44 [m. 11]--The cello begins to pulse on a repeated C.  In a contrasting phrase, the first violin makes a strong upward motion, first by step, then by leap, supported by harmonies in second violin and viola.  After a sighing downward turn, the upward motion begins again from that point, rising high and making a bold, striking motion to the somewhat distant key of A-flat major.  The pulsing cello moves to that note.
1:01 [m. 15]--The next phrase continues in A-flat with a descending dolce line like those from the first phrases.  Like the upward motion, this descending line is repeated from that point, and moves back to the “dominant” harmony on C.
1:17 [m. 19]--A sliding half-step motion on the upbeat leads back to F major and the varied restatement of the main melodic phrase.  It begins like 0:11 [m. 3], but the cello adds a downward chromatic line.  Subtle chromatic notes are added to the end of the first phrase.  The “answering” phrase is greatly varied to avoid the motion to the “dominant.”  The brief harmonic detour to G seems to follow, but the first violin line is now in a strong triplet rhythm.  These triplets are echoed by the viola, which quickly moves back to F.  The viola continues its presentation as the violins add new three-note leaping and turning figures beginning off the beat.  The cello slides upward.  A long, warm cadence with a first violin trill closes the theme.
B Section--D minor
1:52 [m. 27]--Another two-measure introduction/transition leads from F major to the “relative” key of D minor, the principal center of the active, agitated B section.  The violins take the melodic lead, underpinned by rising motion passed from the cello to the viola.  The first violin takes up the rising motion, moving into its high register as the volume dramatically increases.  The motion in the second violin sets the stage for the following D-minor eruption.
2:02 [m. 29]--With forceful intensity, all four instruments play short upbeats leading into strong and dramatic chords.  The third of these is rounded off by a quick descending scale line in the first violin, harmonized by the others.  Another upbeat and chord, with a downward leap, is quickly echoed by all instruments except the first violin, which holds its note.  The other three instruments then hold their notes as the first violin reiterates its downward leap from a step higher.  The other instruments then respond without a direct echo, seemingly moving toward A minor.  Although Brahms does not indicate a decrescendo here, the intensity is clearly meant to recede.
2:23 [m. 33]--A suddenly quiet murmuring phrase follows, not in A minor, but the related C major.  It is tender, with mild syncopation and warm harmony, contrasting greatly with the agitated, intense chords.  The phrase is answered by an even quieter statement a third higher.  This answer has more of a minor character, and indeed it is in E minor, changing to major at the end.
2:41 [m. 37]--Forcefully moving from E through A, a massive upbeat in all four instruments, with an upward slide in the first violin, leads back to D minor and the dramatic chords.  This time, the interplay between the first violin and the other instruments is in force from the outset, without the rhetorical pauses heard before.  The quick descending scale line in the first violin is now not fully harmonized, instead dovetailing with a similar descent in the second violin, the lower two instruments continuing their long-short rhythms.  The second violin continues downward in two more descents, punctuated by first violin leaps.  An emphatic leap to the “dominant” A is echoed by cello, then first violin, then the other two.
3:00 [m. 41]--The quiet murmuring phrase is now heard in F major (the movement’s home key), with the first violin set very high.  The answering phrase does not follow the previous pattern.  The first violin holds its last note, and the viola leads the answer, which is in C minor instead of the expected A minor.
3:17 [m. 45]--Instead of a return to the dramatic chords, the first violin now emerges into a tranquillo rhapsodic line of continuous sixteenth notes, meandering in a wave-like motion.  There are chromatic inflections, but the line seems to want to re-establish the realm of F major and D minor.  The lower instruments add isolated off-beat punctuations based on the murmuring phrase.  These hold to C, but seemingly as a “dominant” harmony.  The final descent of the first violin’s line is a descending arpeggio on the “dominant” in F major, suggesting an arrival there, but this is quickly diverted.
3:26 [m. 47]--Two disruptive measures of 5/4 are inserted here, and they are as harmonically unstable as they are metrically.  The second violin briefly takes up the first violin’s meandering sixteenth notes against the continued isolated punctuations in second violin and viola.  Passing the wandering line back to the first violin, the second violin joins the lower instruments.  The key center is ambiguous, but it appears to be A-flat major, with minor inflections.  The first violin wanders away on the extra beat.  A similar pattern follows in the second 5/4 measure, but this shifts to the even more distant B major and stays there.
3:36 [m. 49]--With 4/4 restored, an arching figure is passed between the second violin and the first violin, with continued off-beat punctuations.  The first statement, in the second violin, remains in B major.  The remaining exchanges are harmonically dynamic, moving in a “circle of fifths” pattern through G, C, and finally F.  After the second and first violins each have two statements of the arching figure, the first violin suddenly leaps up and cascades downward in a series of arpeggios while the other instruments continue their off-beat punctuations.  This builds strongly in volume.  The arpeggios then shift to D minor while the other instruments play forceful syncopations, the first violin descending nearly to its lowest pitch.
3:52 [m. 53]--A full arrival on D minor is averted by a disruptive chromatic low G-sharp in the first violin.  That instrument now works upward in a series of short descents that become syncopated as the other instruments begin to pulse.  At the high point, the first violin passionately descends in a highly chromatic, syncopated line.  The other instruments richly accompany this, and the second violin has a strong rising line.  The first violin finally settles down again to murmur in its lowest register as the other instruments break off.  Brahms indicates a slowing, and the cello joins the syncopation.  This seems like a re-transition, and indeed the A section material will return here, but it will return in the “wrong” key.
A’ Section--D major and F major
4:14 [m. 57]--D minor changes to D major, and the main A section theme returns there.  This is a type of “false” return because it does not begin in the movement’s home key.  It is varied in a charming way, with off-beat fragments passed between the cello and first violin, the other instruments playing continuous accompaniment with some syncopation and arpeggios.   The presentation is marked dolce e grazioso.  Despite the dovetailing first violin and cello, the contours of the theme are clearly recognizable.  The exchanges stop in the second measure of the “answering” phrase (after the brief harmonic motion, now to E) as the first violin takes over, leading to the rising triplet and downward leap to the “dominant” (now A).
4:47 [m. 65]--The contrasting phrase begins, corresponding to 0:44 [m. 11].  Under the strong upward motion in the first violin, the cello has a new descending line with a triplet figure instead of its former pulsations.  The harmony turns to D minor.  The first violin leaps down instead of its former sighing turn.  All instruments now join in a chromatic upward slide.  The violin now plays the descending line that had been introduced by the cello, while the viola and cello take the expected second statement of the strong upward motion.  There seems to be a move to the long delayed home key of F, but in the next measure, as the cello leaps down and the first violin moves up in syncopation, there is an unexpected shift to A-flat.
5:04 [m. 69]--With the motion to F and then A-flat, Brahms seems to have achieved the home key only to abandon it again.  But A-flat had been in force at this point in the earlier statement of this material.  This allows the music to return to its former level while still delaying the full return of F, a highly sophisticated maneuver.  This next phrase closely matches the earlier presentation at 1:01 [m. 15], now at the same pitch level and key, with the descending lines in A-flat moving to the “dominant” harmony on C.  There is some variation, mainly in the more decorative viola and in the cello, whose pulsations are now syncopated.
5:20 [m. 73]--The sliding half-step motion finally and definitively leads to F major, and the varied restatements of the opening and answering phrases are presented in an almost identical manner as at 1:17 [m. 19].  The only real difference is in the viola, which adds triplet rhythm to its syncopated pulsations.  This breaks at the original exchange of triplets between the first violin and viola in the “answering” phrase.  The arrival at the long, warm cadence with the trill follows as expected.
5:54 [m. 81]--An introductory lead-in begins, like the ones at the opening and before the B section.  The closing F of the last cadence is used to pivot to another colorfully distant key, D-flat major, where that note is the third.  As with the other lead-ins, upward rising motion is passed from cello to viola as the violins stretch out the opening notes of the main theme.  As in the “lead-in” before the B section, the first violin rises high as the volume builds.  This time, the apparent introduction is extended into a full four-measure phrase, with the first violin turning downward and the thematic variant continuing and settling down toward an apparent full cadence in D-flat.  This, however, is broken off right before its final arrival.
6:12 [m. 85]--The note D-flat does arrive after the break-off, but it is changed to C-sharp and harmonized to facilitate a motion back to F major.  The descent toward an arrival there, in the second violin, is likewise broken off.  It is repeated an octave higher, then breaks off yet again.  While the second violin has the leading motion, the other instruments richly harmonize it, most notably the first violin’s sighing figures.
6:23 [m. 87]--A third statement of the same fragment begins, but now it is extended, working upward and building strongly, with active lines in the second violin and viola and prominent use of the note D-flat/C-sharp, which seems to hold over from the detour to that key area.  After reaching a high point of pitch and volume, the first violin makes its way downward, with the harmony and melody lingering on the “dominant” note C.  The volume rapidly diminishes.
6:42 [m. 92]--The cello emerges into rising figures like those in the “lead-in” passages, and these are passed up to the violins as the final F-major harmony is gradually established.  Another sequence of rising figures incorporates the viola.  The violins finally arrive on a high F, the first an octave above the second, as the viola and cello very briefly drop out.  As the first violin holds its note, the other instruments punctuate the arrival with a distinctive “plagal” cadence, which gives the conclusion an almost benedictory character as the last F-major chord is held.
7:06--END OF MOVEMENT [95 mm.]

3rd Movement: Agitato [Allegretto non troppo] (Intermezzo and Trio).  D MINOR, 3/4 time.

Part 1
0:00 [m. 1]--All instruments play with mutes through the movement except for the viola, which usually has the leading melodic role.  With an upbeat, the viola leads into the expressive and melancholy main melody, characterized by a long-short rhythm at the beginning of each measure and a winding motion up and back down.  The muted instruments respond with gestures beginning just off the downbeat and leaning into the second and third beats.  Already in the fourth measure, there is a strong tendency toward the “relative” F major.  In the next four measures, an upward surge with building intensity briefly asserts D minor, but a harmonized downward motion in the violins, along with leaping cellos, again suggests F.
0:12 [m. 9]--The melody seems to start up again, but in fact these four measures complete a full twelve-measure phrase.  Now the melody and harmony remain more closely anchored to D minor.  The viola appears to be reaching full closure, but the expected cadence instead merges into the full varied restatement of the melodic phrase.
0:18 [m. 13]--The theme is restated in full, but now the leading melodic instrument is the first violin, which is still muted.  The theme retains its rhythmic and melodic character, but the first violin places a rest on each downbeat, breaking up the melodic line and lending it a syncopated character.  The viola, still prominent because it lacks a mute, plays what appears to be a decorative line with two-note slurs and leaps, but it is in fact an embellished version of the theme itself, played against the first violin’s more straightforward, but fragmented statement.  The cello moves to plucked arpeggios, leaving the second violin as the only instrument playing the original type of accompanying figures, mostly in double stops.
0:29 [m. 21]--For the concluding four measures, the first violin continues its halting presentation, but then the viola takes over with its original line in the last two measures.  The harmony in the other instruments is changed.  An arrival in D minor is again avoided, but this time the apparent cadence is shifted back a beat. A harmony on D is placed on the weak third beat, but it is D major, functioning as a “dominant” lead-in to the next section, which begins in G major.
Part 2
0:34 [m. 25]--The D-major chord serves as an upbeat to a new and more forceful idea beginning in G major, again presented by the unmuted viola.  It plays two measures of downward plunging arpeggios in three two-beat groupings, obscuring the bar line.  The muted instruments all play their off-beat interjections pizzicato, with full plucked chords.  The viola then moves back to the main melody, and the other instruments, still plucked, return to the original “leaning” off-beat figures.  This return to the main melody moves another key level along the circle of fifths, to C major, with minor-key inflection.
0:40 [m. 29]--The viola pauses on a held G while the other instruments, taking up their bows again, play quietly pulsating C-major chords.  The viola plays an upward arpeggio on an upbeat, leading to another held note, E.  The chords played against this are the “dominant” harmony on A, suggesting a motion back to the home key of D minor.  But once again, the harmony that arrives is D major, with another upward viola arpeggio, and this leads back to G.
0:45 [m. 33]--The viola again plays the forceful descending arpeggios in two-note groupings, now doubled an octave above by the first violin, leaving only the second violin and cello to play plucked interjections with chords.  The arpeggio is changed at the very end so that the figures from the main melody (still doubled by the first violin) remain in G instead of moving to C.
0:51 [m. 37]--The first violin takes over with the held note, now on D.  The other instruments, including the viola, play the pulsating chords, now on G major.  The first violin plays the expected upward arpeggio to the note B, and the chords, following the pattern from 0:40 [m. 29] are on E major, suggesting a motion to A.  The second upbeat arpeggio in the first violin now descends.  The pattern is extended another full four measures, with chords in A minor and F major against a held C, then chords in D major against a held A.  The first violin again follows these held notes with upward and downward arpeggios.  The extension slows and quiets down.
1:04 [m. 45]--The first violin lands on the note B-flat and holds it for two full measures.  Underneath it, the other instruments make yet another harmonic detour, to the unexpected E-flat major (a half-step above the home key of D minor).  While the cello plays two-note bass harmonies on the second and third beats, the second violin and viola play three-note upbeat arpeggios confirming E-flat.  After the held note, the first violin begins to play a continuous E-flat arpeggio that dips back down once.  The second violin and viola imitate it, and the cello harmonies become continuous.  This builds strongly in volume.  Finally, at the top of the buildup, the three upper instruments descend in rich harmonies with the cello playing the arpeggios.
1:12 [m. 51]--The motion is arrested on a dissonant “diminished seventh” harmony, which leads the harmony up another level, to A-flat.  The instruments quickly settle down on three long chords, with the middle one held over the bar line, disrupting the flow.  The first violin then slides down, moving the harmony down a step with it, to G, the cello moving up.  A slower arpeggio in the second violin and viola confirms that this new arrival is on G minor, and after the first violin dips down and back up, another slow arpeggio on the “dominant” further establishes the key.  This point of inactivity marks the end of the second section which, for all its harmonic adventures has both begun and ended in G (major, then minor).
Part 3
1:21 [m. 57]--This is essentially the “middle section,” since it contains new material without reference to the main melody.  The cello drops out for the first phrase.  The first violin plays a series of slurred two-note groups, dolce, reaching up in the middle and tripping down.  The harmony underneath in the second violin and viola is unstable.  The key is G minor, but the instruments hover on a “diminished” chord.  The viola marches down in a winding line while the second violin plays dissonant off-beat harmonies.  After the first violin completes its line, the viola plays a bridging arpeggio. 
1:26 [m. 61]--The first violin, with a decorated upbeat, begins the pattern again, doubled by the viola.  The cello enters to play the previous viola marching line.  Just before completing the second statement of the two-note slurs, the first violin and viola deviate and extend the passage, adding another downward-tripping motion and moving the key briefly but decisively to C minor.
1:32 [m. 65]--The first violin emerges into a series of yearning figures beginning with notes held over the bar line and leaning upward.  The second violin supports these with downward leaps.  The viola and cello now join in parallel harmony (tenths and then closer thirds), playing three sequences of the downward-tripping figures.  The upward leaning first violin, which subtly changes from the notes held over bar lines to shorter, more direct upward motion as the volume builds, moves the harmony from C minor through B-flat major and G minor and finally, refreshingly, back to the home key of D minor.  All four instruments join on a massive unison repetition of the last two upward gestures, leading to a forceful arrival on a unison D.
1:37 [m. 69]--All four instruments now play slower chords on two-beat harmonies that obscure the bar line.  The chords use the upward leaning motion heard in the previous passage, reiterating the harmonic motion toward D.  The first violin’s leaning motion is offset from the other instruments, and after one such motion, it holds a D while the others continue with two more.  It then rejoins for a fourth and final motion, again slightly ahead of and offset from the other instruments, the cello now holding a D.  The first violin once again pauses and holds the “dominant” note A as the others slide downward, still in two-beat chords that completely disrupt the sense of the downbeat.  The chords settle down to a hushed level.
1:50 [m. 77]--Re-transition.  Despite disrupting the bar lines, the previous chords have formed a full eight-measure phrase.  Having settled on the “dominant” chord on A, the first violin suddenly emerges into a familiar gesture, the long-short rhythm of the main melody, cutting off the other instruments.  The viola, still prominent because of its lack of mute, plays an arpeggio on the “dominant” chord.  The first violin again plays the rising fragment of the main melody, and the viola responds with the arpeggio.
1:55 [m. 81]--Now, over the course of eight measures, the first violin and viola play in alternation, the other two instruments remaining silent.  They both play rising figures landing on the beat.  The viola remains anchored to a rising octave on the “dominant” note A.  The first violin, however, slowly descends with its figures, adding double stop harmonies by holding the lower off-beat note.  These become increasingly colorful and chromatic until, having extended its descent, the first violin arrives on the “dominant” chord in preparation for the next section, the varied return of the main melody.
Part 4 (Varied return of Part 1 and conclusion)
2:08 [m. 89]--With a sense of relief, the viola emerges into the main melody.  The major difference from the opening is that the first violin now plays a highly decorative figuration in triplet rhythm against it, alternating between trills and undulating motion.  The second violin and cello play figures closer to the original accompanying gestures, the second violin beginning in double stops.  In the seventh measure, the second violin and cello become more active, and the melody suddenly cuts off, leaving the first violin to trail down in the next measure with its arch-like undulations in the triplet rhythm.
2:20 [m. 97]--The viola restates the last three measures (the fifth through seventh of the original melody) a third lower.  The first violin triplets continue, working downward, as the second violin and viola re-enter with their figures.  This statement a third lower further establishes D minor.  Again, the viola cuts off and the first violin trails down with its undulations.
2:25 [m. 101]--The two violins now play an agitated new “closing” melody, lent an air of resignation through its harmonization in thirds.  The viola plays an accompaniment in syncopated repeated notes, the cello providing a solid bass.  The harmonized violin melody continues, gradually reaching higher.  The second violin does briefly break from the thirds.  After four measures, the first violin leaps up an octave to repeat its last notes, obscuring the bar line.  The other instruments join it with full chords.  Another upward octave leap leads to a sharp cutoff on a forceful “dominant” chord.
2:33 [m. 106]--The viola, the most prominent instrument in the movement, is left alone to play a rhapsodic solo, an upward arpeggio followed by two downward ones.  It then slows down to play a strong cadence gesture, once again forcefully asserting the home key of D minor.
2:40 [m. 110]--This closing passage is powerful and dramatic.  The viola begins to state the main melody again, with strong interjections from the violins and a solid D in the cello bass.  After two measures, the first violin and cello take over from the viola, playing in alternation and moving outward, the first violin shooting up and the cello plunging down.  The patterns are in two-beat groupings, again disrupting the meter.
2:45 [m. 114]--The entire sequence is now repeated with the first violin taking the lead three octaves higher than the viola was.  The viola takes the interjections with the second violin.  At the two-beat groupings, the first violin now plunges down in alternation with the rising viola as the cello holds the low bass D.  The alternation in the two-beat units is extended for a second statement with the first violin an octave lower.
2:53 [m. 120]--The first violin settles on a held D, rapidly becoming quiet.  The other instruments play two D-major chords and one D-minor one, alternating with rests in two-beat groupings.  The first violin reiterates its D, whereupon the second violin and viola play one statement of the main melodic figure in harmony.  The first violin dips down to C-sharp to participate in a cadence as the second violin and cello move down.  The cadence is in D minor, but after another rest, the instruments play a D-major chord.  It is at this point that the music will move to the separate coda in the later reprise of the full intermezzo.
3:01 [m. 125]--These last five very hushed measures are not included in the later reprise.  Here, the first violin holds its D and, incorporating the last measure before the “coda” indication (m. 124), the pattern from 2:53 [m. 120] is repeated with the viola an octave lower than it was before.  The two D-major chords are again followed by a D-minor chord, and the main melodic figure is followed by the same cadence.  For the third time, the two major and one minor chord are stated in the two-beat groupings with rests, now including the first violin and trailing off in preparation for the Trio.
TRIO (A minor)
3:11 [m. 130]--The trio section is a series of similar eight-bar phrases.  In the first one, all the “muted” instruments participate without the viola.  Beginning on the second beat, the violins and cello play an A-minor arpeggio in contrary motion.  This is followed by a figure in the long-short rhythm of the main intermezzo melody.  This pattern happens three times, with some chromatic notes in the halting long-short responses.  The second response is higher than the first, and the third A-minor arpeggio has higher violins.  After this third arpeggio, the volume builds and the long-short figures are extended down to a half-close.
3:23 [m. 138]--The viola enters on an upbeat, and the previous phrase without it is now revealed as a skeleton structure without a melody.  The muted instruments repeat the previous eight measures almost exactly, and the unmuted viola spins out the missing melody.  Like the main melody of the intermezzo, it is melancholy and waltz-like, the main difference being that the long-short rhythm is placed on the second and third beats instead of the first and second.  After two similar gestures, it rises and descends on the third.  The harmony in the muted instruments is subtly changed at the end to lead into the next phrase.
3:35 [m. 146]--The viola moves to its high register and the key changes to F major.  The muted instruments, still in contrary motion, now play only arpeggios on the C “dominant” harmony in F, with one followed by another in the opposite direction.  The viola melody, though higher and in major, retains its character, dolce.  After the first four measures, the violin arpeggios are all descending, and the cello moves two of its ascending figures to the downbeat, creating a dovetailing effect.  The viola melody, having reached a climax, slows on downward leaps with rests between them.  The harmony moves back to the “dominant” in A minor.
3:46 [m. 154]--The viola melody and its established background resume as at 3:23 [m. 138], with the viola an octave higher than before.  At the climax halfway through, the viola stays on the same basic notes, though adding a new syncopation, but the muted instruments change their harmony, allowing the first full arrival and cadence in A minor.
3:59 [m. 162]--The contrasting phrase from 3:35 [m. 146] is now given a varied restatement.  The first violin plays the higher melody in F major, an octave higher than the viola was before.  The second violin and viola now play the arpeggios, with the cello providing a pizzicato bass with plucked upward octaves.  In the second half of the phrase, the arpeggios in the second violin and viola are dovetailed, creating continuous motion.
4:10 [m. 170]--The main phrase is presented with the full cadence in A minor, as at 3:46 [m. 154], with significant variation.  The first violin takes the lead, but it is partially doubled an octave lower by the second violin.  The viola now takes the original “skeleton” accompaniment mostly by itself, a reversal of its original role.  The cello adds new downbeat figures and arpeggios played against the viola’s long-short rhythms.  In the last three measures the second violin changes from its partial doubling of the melody to join the viola in harmony on the accompaniment, and the cello “fills in” their long-short rhythms, playing against their rests.  The cadence measure is repeated.
4:22 [m. 179]--Transition to intermezzo reprise.  Immediately following the cadence, the upper three instruments erupt into three loud chords, each of two beats, creating another bar line obscuring cross-meter.  These chords, with a plunging first violin, rapidly move from the A minor of the trio section to the D minor of the main intermezzo, supported by a rising arpeggio in the cello that avoids the cross-meter.  Then the first violin, with intensity, plays the first four measures of the main intermezzo itself.  The second violin and viola play the typical off-beat accompaniment figures, and the cello drops out.  The last note, supported by an unstable “diminished” chord, is held for two beats of another measure to prepare for the viola upbeat.
Part 1
4:33 [m. 1, upbeat from m. 185]--First eight measures of viola melody, as at the beginning.
4:45 [m. 9]--Four measures completing twelve-measure phrase, as at 0:12.
4:50 [m. 13]--Varied, decorated statement led by first violin, as at 0:18.
5:01 [m. 21]--Concluding four measures leading to G major and Part 2, as at 0:29.
Part 2
5:06 [m. 25]--Plunging arpeggio in G with pizzicato accompaniment, moving to main melody in C major, as at 0:34.
5:11 [m. 29]--Held notes and arpeggios in viola against pulsating bowed chords, as at 0:40.
5:17 [m. 33]--Plunging arpeggios doubled by first violin remaining in G, as at 0:45.
5:23 [m. 37]--Arpeggios and held notes in first violin, with pulsating chords in G and E, then extension of pattern with chords in A minor, F major, and D major, as at 0:51.
5:35 [m. 45]--Detour to E-flat major with building arpeggios, as at 1:04.
5:43 [m. 51]--“Diminished seventh,” chords obscuring bar line, with motion to A-flat and then G minor, as at 1:12.
Part 3
5:52 [m. 57]--Slurred two-note groups over “diminished” harmony, as at 1:21.
5:58 [m. 61]--First violin doubled by viola on previous material with motion to C minor, as at 1:26.
6:03 [m. 65]--Yearning figures with notes held over bar lines above downward-tripping figures, moving strongly back to D minor, as at 1:32.
6:09 [m. 69]--Series of two-beat chords obscuring bar line, as at 1:37.
6:22 [m. 77]--Re-transition.  Return to main melody over “dominant” harmony, as at 1:50.
6:26 [m. 81]--First violin and viola in alternation, with viola holding on “dominant” note and first violin working down using double stops, as at 1:55.
Part 4 (Varied return of Part 1 and conclusion)
6:40 [m. 89]--Main melody with triplet figuration in first violin, cut off with trailing triplets, as at 2:08.
6:52 [m. 97]--Lower statement of material from preceding measures, cut off with trailing triplets, as at 2:20.
6:57 [m. 101]--Agitated “closing” melody harmonized in thirds, then forceful arrival on “dominant,” as at 2:25.
7:05 [m. 106]--Rhapsodic viola solo with forceful cadence, as at 2:33.
7:11 [m. 110]--Powerful and dramatic closing passage with main melody and excited figures that disrupt bar line, as at 2:40.
7:17 [m. 114]--Repetition of sequence with first violin leading, then meter-obscuring figures, extended and reversed in direction, as at 2:45.
7:25 [m. 120]--D-major and D-minor chords with main melodic figure and cadence, as at 2:53.  After the first D-major chord, the remaining original five measures from 3:01 [m. 125] are skipped, and the new coda (notated after the Trio) follows.
7:33 [m. 186]--The key signature of the coda is D major, not D minor.  The second D-major chord follows as expected, but instead of the D-minor chord from before, the instruments below the first violin play a third D-major chord, which is held over the bar line, then dissolve into a murmuring and gentle meditation in major.  After two measures of this, the first violin leaps up, holds a D over the bar line, then makes a stepwise descent.
7:42 [m. 191]--The first violin holds another note, an A, and the murmuring instruments continue with mildly chromatic harmonies.  The first violin arrives on a low D, holds it, then emerges with the now very familiar rhythm from the main melody, now in soothing major.  The cello plays a rising arpeggio as the second violin and viola briefly drop out.  The viola now enters on a held D, and the other three instruments echo the main melodic figure, dolce, whereupon the viola plays the rising arpeggio.
7:53 [m. 198]--The violin now plays another higher held D.  The second violin and viola, in contrary motion, echo the main melodic figure again.  Then the first violin plays an arpeggio to arrive at a high D, an octave above its previous one.  The cello has one last low and warm echo of the melodic figure, then it lands on a low D.  Against these held first violin and cello notes, which are four octaves apart, the “inner” instruments, the second violin and viola, play a final cadence in long chords.  This cadence is unusual.  It resembles a “plagal” cadence, but with a dissonant “diminished” harmony that causes all notes of the final arrival in these instruments to be approached by half-step.  The last D-major chord is held.
8:09--END OF MOVEMENT [203 (+124) mm.]

4th Movement: Poco Allegretto con Variazioni (Theme and Variations with coda). B-FLAT MAJOR, 2/4 time; the last two variations before the coda are in 6/8.

0:00 [m. 1]--THEME.  Part 1.  It begins with a rising upbeat from the harmonized violins on a half-beat.  From there, they play two identical, gentle gestures separated by a cadence.  These are accompanied by distinctive triplet arpeggios in the viola and steady bass notes in the cello.  In the remaining two measures, the first violin melody reaches up and winds down.  The harmony in the other instruments becomes active, touching first on the “subdominant” E-flat before moving to the “relative” G minor and then settling on that key’s “dominant” (D major).  The viola has syncopated descending arpeggios, and the cello plays pizzicato.
0:10 [m. 1]--Part 1 repeated.  Repeat signs are used here, but this repeat is written out (and sometimes varied) in all of the variations.
0:20 [m. 5]--Part 2.  It is in six measures, the last two a “return.”  The cello is bowed throughout.  After another upbeat, the instruments slowly undulate in harmony, establishing D major.  The first violin reaches up, descends, and introduces the note B-flat (giving a minor tinge to the prevalent D major).  The other instruments respond with a two-note leaping gesture.  The last violin descent is given a step lower, and the other instruments again respond.  Then, rather abruptly, the opening material of Part 1 returns, complete with the viola’s triplet arpeggios, and the key is wrenched back to B-flat major.  This time the concluding cadence separating the gestures is of the “plagal” type.
0:34 [m. 5]--Part 2 repeated.
0:48 [m. 11]--VARIATION 1.  Part 1.  The viola leads this variation, decorating the melody of the theme with continuous sixteenth notes, including repeated notes and two-note slurs.  The other instruments are all pizzicato, plucking their accompanying figures, which begin off the beat in each measure.  As in the theme, the second half includes an upward reach and descent (now with two-note slurs and repeated notes), and a harmonic motion to G minor and D major.
0:57 [m. 15]--Part 1 repeated.  The repeat is written out, but the only real change is that Brahms lowers the volume to pianissimo.  The viola upbeat is now against a plucked chord.
1:06 [m. 19]--Part 2.  The viola continues to lead, replacing the meandering motion with rising and falling waves that build strongly in volume.  The other instruments play a continuous plucked accompaniment, with leaps in the first violin.  The note B-flat is again introduced in the D-major material.  At the end of these first four measures, the accompanying instruments briefly break, the viola descends, recedes, and settles on a syncopated D, and the violins take up their bows.  At the abrupt, suddenly dolce return of the Part 1 material and motion back to B-flat, the first violin continues with the bow, assisting the viola’s presentation with descending two-note slurs.  The second violin goes back to plucking for the cadences.
1:19 [m. 19]--Part 2 repeated.
1:34 [m. 25]--VARIATION 2.  Part 1.  The viola leads in the first part of this variation as well, with the upbeats leading to held notes.  The other instruments respond with dolce figures beginning off the beat.  These generally flow in arching lines, usually with contrary motion in the cello or, at the beginning, in the second violin as well.  They are mildly chromatic.  The pattern continues through the motion to D major.
1:44 [m. 29]--Part 1, varied repeat.  The changes are artful here.  The first violin takes over the lead role from the viola, but the latter instrument does note give it up completely.  The first violin upbeats and held notes are two octaves higher than the viola.  The viola doubles the upbeats, but immediately takes over the former second violin part in the flowing responses.  The second violin itself takes the former first violin part, and the cello is unchanged.
1:53 [m. 33]--Part 2.  The violins take over for at the beginning.  They play continuous undulating motion in harmony while the cello and the viola play longer descending lines that are passed to and dovetailed with each other.  This builds strongly in volume, with the first violin reaching high.  After the climax, an undulating figure is passed down from first violin to second violin to cello as the volume recedes.  This pattern is given again a step lower, but without the cello, whose entry is cut off by the always abrupt motion back to B-flat and the Part 1 material.  The first violin leads here again, but the viola doubles its upbeats.  A rising line from the “dominant” in the bass disrupts the “plagal” character of the concluding cadence.
2:07 [m. 33]--Part 2 repeated.
2:21 [m. 39]--VARIATION 3.  Part 1.  The first violin breaks into a continuous triplet rhythm, sliding up on the upbeat and then emerging into decorative figures, which are lent a mild cross-rhythm by slurring two-note descents, including across the triplet units.  The upbeats restore the balance.  The other instruments join in a sparse, but distinctive accompaniment in a pattern of chords with the rhythm long-long-rest-short-long.  The triplets briefly become more regular with a descent during the harmonic motion, but they return to the two-note slurs in the last measure.  The chord pattern of the other instruments only breaks at the end.
2:31 [m. 43]--Part 1 repeated.  It is written out without repeat signs, but the only change is reduction of the dynamic level in the accompanying instruments to pianissimo.
2:41 [m. 47]--Part 2.  In D major, the first violin triplets now cross strong beats in arching figures that rise upward to a climax, and the accompanying instruments also surge upward in figures moving from upbeats to downbeats.  At the climax, the first violin triplets tumble down.  The accompaniment breaks, and the triplets are passed down to the second violin and then the cello.  Against these descents, the first violin reiterates a B-flat.  The exchange from the second violin to the cello is repeated a step down, with the first violin moving down to A, joined by the cello (also on A) and viola (on D).  The return to B-flat is, as usual, like the beginning of Part 1 with the added “plagal” cadence.  The first violin closes with a charming sigh.
2:56 [m. 47]--Part 2 repeated.
3:13 [m. 53]--VARIATION 4.  B-FLAT MINOR.  Part 1.  The key signature does not change.  The variation is fully in minor, but there are rising cadence gestures that use the “melodic” minor with notes borrowed from major.  The second violin and viola are absent for three measures.  Very quietly, the first violin and cello, two octaves apart, spin out an unharmonized deconstruction of the theme in a flowing motion.  A pattern with the rising cadence figure is stated, then repeated an octave lower.  In the last two measures, two descending arpeggios, the second one higher, lead not to D major, but to the “relative” D-flat major.  The second violin and viola enter at the end, breaking the octaves and harmonizing the closing descent.
3:23 [m. 57]--Part 1, varied repeat.  The first violin plays its original line, but the cello no longer doubles it below.  Instead, the second violin and viola add an accompaniment with repeated-note triplets on the upbeats.  The cello now has upward arpeggios on the strong beats, also in triplets.  The second violin and viola add another repeated-note triplet in the middle of the third measure.  The closing descent is similar, but now the cello has an independent bass line that more solidly confirms the arrival on D-flat major than did its previous scale descent.
3:32 [m. 61]--Part 2.  The first violin, joined shortly by the second, plays chromatic rising figures that are imitated directly by the viola and cello.  These break after a measure.  The triplet figures from the repeat of Part 1 return, with repeated notes on the weak beats in second violin and viola, and strong-beat arpeggios in the cello.    The first violin holds longer notes after turning upbeats.  The harmony, with “diminished sevenths,” is extremely chromatic, but D-flat major finally asserts itself.  The motion back to B-flat minor (smoother now because of the “relative” relationship) uses the same “diminished seventh.”  The first violin plays the same cadence figures from Part 1, but the second is now an octave higher instead of lower.
3:46 [m. 61]--Part 2 repeated.  A first ending is used for the last measure before the repeat because the upbeat is different, with the second violin doubling the first an octave below (which it only did after the upbeat in the first statement).  This requires the upbeat to come before the repeat sign, which did not happen in earlier variations.
4:00 [m. 67]--VARIATION 5.  D-FLAT MAJOR.  Part 1.  The key signature now changes for a variation in the “relative” major to B-flat minor.  The upper three instruments play in sweet dolce harmony, with the first violin reiterating a high D-flat over descending notes in alternation, the second violin and viola playing a straighter descent.  The cello plays in triplets, reiterating a low D-flat, then rising in an arpeggio to a higher one.  The viola has the alternating D-flats and lower notes in the second measure.  In the second half, the cello takes the lead with a high rising chromatic line, still in triplets.  The other instruments gradually rise in descending groups that cross over strong beats.  The analogous goal to the other major-key variations would be F major, but here it is instead F minor, as confirmed by the trailing viola descent.
4:09 [m. 71]--Part 1 repeated.  Here there are no variants, even in volume, except for minor adjustments at the upbeats leading into the repeat and then into Part 2.
4:19 [m. 75]--Part 2.  The cello resumes its triplet reiterations, now on F.  The descending groups leading from weak beats into strong beats, emphasizing an “upbeat” character derived from the theme, become prevalent in the second violin and viola.  The first violin, which takes the lead, has slower rising figures that also lean from upbeats or weak beats into stronger ones.  For the first measure, F minor remains in force.  In the second measure the note A-natural appears on a strong syncopation in the first violin, but it suggests B-flat minor, not F major.  The syncopation continues as the first violin gradually works down.  The second violin and viola smooth out their downward figures before rising in an F-major arpeggio.  At that point, the music immediately and abruptly returns to the Part 1 material in D-flat, adding a new closing arpeggio.  
4:32 [m. 75]--Part 2 repeated.  Brahms indicates a slowing at the return to D-flat in this second statement.
4:49 [m. 81]--VARIATION 6.  G-FLAT MAJOR.  Part 1.  This otherworldly variation follows an implied break.  The key seems remote, but it is not far from D-flat, and the expected analogous harmonic motion at the end of Part 1 is in fact to the home key of B-flat.  The pizzicato cello plucks out familiar upbeat figures from the theme.  The upper three instruments, however, play molto dolce chords that begin on upbeats and are held over bar lines into the downbeats and the strong beats.  These chords create an illusion of regular two-beat units, even seeming to shift the cello figures (whose upbeat character would otherwise be clear) to the downbeat.  After two measures, the first violin reaches high with descents that retain the metric illusion.
5:01 [m. 85]--Part 1 repeated.  There are slight changes to the first upbeat and the distribution of double stops between the two violins.  The first violin adjusts its final note to complete the motion to B-flat.
5:14 [m. 89]--Part 2.  The plucked upbeat figures move from the cello to the viola, the bowed cello joining the chords.  Other than the new harmonic environment, the first four measures are remarkably close in character to Part 1, with the first violin reaching high with descents after two measures.  The rising scale lines in the plucked viola, along with the chromatic rising line in the cello, at first suggest E-flat and F rather than B-flat.  The arrival there is confirmed with the high descents, the viola changing to leaps and the cello becoming static.  The return to G-flat retains the leaping plucked viola, which sweetly completes the variation with a rising arpeggio.  The displaced two-beat units remain in force throughout.
5:32 [m. 89]--Part 2 repeated.
5:52 [m. 95]--VARIATION 7.  Doppio Movimento, 6/8 time.  Part 1.  The double time means that two 6/8 measures equal one 2/4 measure.  Thus, the upbeat (the last beat of m. 94) is the same as the half-measure in 6/8 that opens this variation.  That opening upbeat is a loud rushing downward motion in the first violin against a cello chord.  The sudden return to B-flat is jarring after the quiet ending of Variation 6.  In a stroke of pure genius, the opening hunt call from the first movement, in the same instruments (second violin and viola), with the same accents, is adapted to the theme structure.  The horn calls now include syncopation with tied notes.  The first violin and cello respond to each call with sweeping figures in contrary motion.  After the first two gestures, the calls are shortened by half, and strong chords mark the arrival in D major.
6:03 [m. 103]--Part 1, varied repeat.  The upbeat is now in the second violin and cello, in contrary motion with the second violin sweeping up.  The horn call figures are now in the first violin and viola, with the first violin an octave higher than the second violin was before.  The contrary motion responses, like the upbeat, are in the second violin and cello, the directions reversed from the first statement.  At the end, the first violin tumbles down to lead into Part 2.
6:13 [m. 111]--Part 2.  The second violin and viola take over again with gestures derived from the hunting call.  They are short, with notes tied over bar lines, beginning with the first upbeat.  The first violin and cello respond in contrary motion, with the cello in longer eighth notes.  After two gestures, the tied notes are shortened, and the first violin responds with short rising arpeggios.  The first violin then begins a new pattern with repeated syncopated figures, including doubled thirds, against rapid descending scales dovetailing through the second violin, viola, and cello.  With a strong arrival on D, this pattern is briefly prolonged, with dovetailing fragments in second violin and viola.
6:22 [m. 118]--The return of the material from Part 1 starts with the downward sweeping upbeat gesture in the violins moving back to B-flat.  They also present the hunting calls.  The last response in contrary motion is played by first violin against viola and cello.  All four instruments join the closing hunt calls.  The entirety of Part 2 seems to be one measure shorter than it should be because the opening upbeat in m. 110 is almost treated like a full measure, and the rapid descending scales against the syncopated first violin figures are shifted to the downbeat.
6:27 [m. 111]--Part 2 repeated.  The upbeat is in the first ending [m. 121a], played against a new punctuating first violin chord.
6:36 [m. 118]--Return of material from Part 1, as at 6:22.  The second ending, with the upbeat to Variation 8, is m. 121b.
6:41 [m. 122]--VARIATION 8.  B-FLAT MINOR, 6/8 time.  Part 1.  This variation is also based on material from the first movement, the quiet unison arching arpeggios from the transition to Theme 2, originally heard there in F minor at 1:07 [m. 50].  This material, especially the continuation after the arpeggios, is also derived from the “hunting call” theme.  The viola and cello begin the arpeggios here, and the violins enter after two measures.  The contrary motion is retained from the first movement material, with the violins moving in the opposite direction to the viola and cello.  The zigzagging continuation is extended, and at the end, the harmonic motion is to D-flat major (as in the other minor-key Variation 4).
6:52 [m. 130]--Part 1 repeated without changes.
7:03 [m. 138]--Part 2.  In D-flat, the cello begins to arch on the upbeat, and the first violin in the other direction on the downbeat.  The second violin and viola play supporting harmonies.  The arching arpeggios surge upward with some chromatic notes and a buildup.  At the top, the two violins descend in harmony and are imitated by the viola and cello.  There is a brief motion to E-flat minor, but another descent quickly moves back to D-flat major and recedes in volume.  At the return to B-flat minor with the Part 1 material and closing cadence, Brahms has another surprise, as the violins make a clear reference to the original variation theme, further clarifying the relationship between the theme and the first movement material.
7:19 [m. 138]--Part 2 repeated.  As a second ending, the last chord of the cadence is diverted and held in a “deceptive” motion to G-flat major (the key of Variation 6), where the coda will begin.
7:35 [m. 150]--The time signature changes back to 2/4 time, but the “Doppio movimento” is still in effect, so the note values from the original theme and its variations are doubled (although they move at the same speed).  In effect, this makes the measures half the length as those in the theme.  Back in the “otherworldly” G-flat major, the violins and cello emerge into the opening gestures of the variation theme, dolce.   The viola, however, plays the “hunting call” against them, also dolce, notated in 2/4 triplets and using the chromatic note F-flat (the lowered leading tone).
7:41 [m. 155]--The instruments come together on the chromatic note F-flat, holding it over the bar line, then slide down to E-flat.  From there, the viola emerges as the lead instrument with a second presentation of the opening figures from the variation theme.  These are now in the key of E-flat and harmonized by the second violin and cello.  The first violin takes the counterpoint of the “hunting call” in triplets, again using the lowered leading tone (here D-flat).  The key signature changes to two flats at the end of this passage.
7:50 [m. 161]--The same pattern begins again, with the instruments coming together on D-flat, then sliding down to the note C.  At that point, the second violin and viola hint at the variation theme figures, but the cello and first violin start something entirely different.  Building slowly, the cello leads the first violin in a long series of alternating long-short figures.  The first violin rises steadily upward while the cello arches up and down.  All instruments establish harmony on F, which is the “dominant” of the home key, B-flat.  After four measures, the second violin and viola change to the “horn call” triplets, playing in alternation.  Over the huge “dominant” preparation, the first violin rises two octaves, to its highest register, then turns down.
8:03 [m. 172]--The home key of B-flat arrives grandly, but the “dominant” note F is still persistent in the cello bass.  The first violin joyously erupts into the “horn call” triplets, then starts to descend in syncopation.  The second violin and viola begin to play steady eighth notes in mostly arching patterns derived from the first movement “horn call,” but in straight non-triplet rhythm.  The first violin and cello quickly join them, again building strongly.  All instruments then break off together before an isolated upbeat eighth-note figure.  Another quick rest prepares the next joyous outburst.
8:15 [m. 182]--The instruments rise in unison for three notes to the “dominant” note F.  The violins quickly plunge down, but the lower instruments begin the patterns of the variation theme, now in the exuberant character of the horn call.  The “horn call” itself is then played by the violins.  The variation theme is subsumed within it as the viola also joins the triplet motion., the cello alone somewhat retaining the straight motion, hovering on the note F.  Suddenly, the upper instruments emerge in two-note downward sighs in straight rhythm as the triplets briefly move to the cello and are then passed to the viola and second violin.
8:25 [m. 191]--Suddenly the instruments break off and the dolce character of the variation theme returns.  The second violin and viola, the original presenters of the “horn call,” now play the first two gestures of the variation theme in the “dominant” key of F, separated by rests and supported by the cello.  The first violin languidly takes the “horn call” triplets, which are again marked dolce.  After the other instruments cut off their second variation theme gesture, the first violin’s triplets trail down for a measure.
8:34 [m. 199]--With an abrupt turn to D major, the viola and cello unexpectedly turn to material from Part 2 of the variation theme, which has always been associated with D major.  The violins accompany this with syncopated reiterations of the note D.  This material is further spun out after four measures as the violins move away from the reiterated D and take the melodic material, still in syncopation.
8:44 [m. 207]--The viola holds a harmony while the distinctive closing descent from the D-major material is passed down the instruments, with overlapping statements from the two violins and the cello, each an octave lower.  This is repeated a step lower, echoing that pattern in Part 2 of the original theme.
8:53 [m. 214]--As in the original theme, the Part 1 material suddenly returns in B-flat, now played by the first violin with plucked cello support.  The second violin and viola play the “horn call” triplets against this, and it becomes suddenly apparent that the viola triplets in the original theme were a substitute and preview for these “horn call” figures from the first movement.  The “horn call” figures, unlike the first violin melody, are not marked dolce, indicating a return to their original character.  The first violin extends its statement with rising reiterations of the closing gesture, the last one slowed by rests and moving to a final preparatory “dominant.”
9:04 [m. 221]--After this last small pause, a very brief flourish closes this remarkable variation movement.  The cello is bowed again, and a rapidly falling arpeggio marking an emphatic B-flat cadence is passed from first violin to second violin, then an octave lower from first violin to viola.  The cadence is reiterated once more with Brahms’s typical clinching final chords.
9:17--END OF MOVEMENT [224 mm.]