Recording: Martin Jones, pianist [NI 1788]

Published 1880.  Dedicated to Mrs. Elisabeth von Herzogenberg.

On the heels of the eight short pieces, Op. 76, Brahms published these two considerably longer ones.  Composed at the peak of the “high maturity,” they are among the most popular of his solo piano works.    The seething passion and intensity of both, as well as their more extensive layout, sets them apart.  They are also distinguished by the recipient of their dedication, one of the composer’s dearest friends and most trusted artistic confidants.  Brahms placed great stock in Elisabeth von Herzogenberg’s opinions of his works, and regularly submitted songs and other pieces for her review.  His relationship with her and her husband, the composer Heinrich von Herzogenberg, was one of the warmest of his most productive years, and their voluminous correspondence is a treasure trove.  Brahms carefully contemplated his dedication to the vivacious, intelligent Elisabeth.  He originally considered the Ballades and Romances for two voices, Op. 75, but then reconsidered given the macabre subject matter of the first and last of these as “unfit for a lady.”  That he chose these Rhapsodies speaks to his opinion of their value.  Brahms and Elisabeth arrived at the title “Rhapsodies” in their discussions about the pieces.  The generic “Klavierstücke” was inadequate for them.  Neither was entirely happy with the word and its implications of free or improvisatory form, since both of them have clearly delineated structures, but Brahms grudgingly accepted it as the best option (and would return to it for his final piano piece, Op. 119, No. 4).  Originally, No. 1 was titled “Capriccio” (although it dwarfs the pieces from Op. 76 with that title) and No. 2 simply “Molto passionato.”  No. 1 has an extremely unusual compound form.  It is a three-part piece with a literal reprise of the first section, which is rare for Brahms.  But the outer sections themselves have their own ternary form that approaches, but does not quite reach, sonata form.  The second theme and the “development” make up the middle portion, and the reprise is only of the first theme.  The central section is a lullaby-like transformation of the second theme from the main section (and that theme also returns for the coda).  The more concise No. 2 is in a real sonata form, but its exposition is very brief and its development section quite long.  The enormous re-transition, which struggles to restrain its potential energy, is the most exciting passage.  Both pieces are unusually reluctant to define their home keys in the opening bars, making their eventual arrival that much more satisfying.  The opening of No. 2 has even been described as having a “roving tonal center.”

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

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

No. 1: Agitato (Large compound ternary form).  B MINOR, Cut time [2/2].

A SECTION--Ternary form
0:00 [m. 1]--Part 1 (a).  Theme 1.  The distinctive head of the forceful theme is a held octave followed by a leap down to a fast ascending triplet flourish.  This is initially presented by the right hand, and the left hand follows with weighty three-note descending arpeggios beginning off the beat.  After the opening figure, the theme continues with a generally downward zigzag motion in steady long-short rhythm.  In the third and fourth measures, the upbeats have strong descents punctuated by throbbing lower notes.  While the second and third measures end with B-minor chords, there is no strong establishment of the home key.
0:08 [m. 5]--The key already moves away from B minor here.  The head of the theme is played by the left hand, transposed up a third to D minor.  The right hand plays two long chords establishing the new key, then continues with its own three-note figures, which do begin off the beat, but are harmonized and varied in direction.  The theme in the left hand quickly deviates from its first presentation, lingering on D minor and its “dominant” harmony on A.  The long-short rhythm dominates, including leaps up to chords.
0:14 [m. 9]--Brahms indicates a buildup from an already strong presentation.  The same harmonic shift occurs, with a motion up a third, now to F minor.  The statement of the theme’s head in the left hand begins as it had in D minor, with the long right hand chords above it.  In the second measure, though, the continuation is replaced by another statement of the opening gesture, in a lower octave but a half-step higher in harmony.  This is F-sharp minor, the temporary goal.  The right hand erupts into huge chords in that key, supported by large leaps up to chords from octaves in the left hand using the long-short rhythm.
0:21 [m. 13]--F-sharp minor is strongly asserted with a marching line in octaves that turns down before steadily rising.  The left hand presents it in a long-short-short rhythm.  The right hand shadows it above, but plays the first octave of each corresponding left hand group off the beat, essentially splitting the longer left hand notes.  After two measures, there is an emphatic motion down to a cadence, still in octaves, with the right hand following the left off the beats.
0:26 [m. 16]--The cadence merges with a sudden drop in volume, and a throbbing pulse begins in the lower register.  The note F-sharp becomes a “pedal point,” reiterated on the downbeats in the bass and off the beats in the tenor register with the right hand.  After the downbeats, the left hand alternates harmonies with the right hand off-beat pulses, at first intertwining with the right hand.  In the third measure, the left hand actually crosses over the right hand for a plaintive chromatic descent in thirds, then a more hopeful rising line that falters back downward.  In the midst of these, it leaps back to reiterate the “leading tone” below the right hand pulse.  From the fourth measure, the left hand abandons the low downbeats on F-sharp.
0:35 [m. 22]--The hopeful line in the crossover melody briefly suggests a turn to major, which is confirmed on this closing downbeat.  However, the key then immediately and unexpectedly pivots to D major (the “relative” key to the home key of B minor).  The throbbing off-beat pulse on F-sharp continues, but it is now the third in the new key.  The left hand moves back down to establish a low bass octave on D.  The right hand plays a harmonized melody above the pulsations that is derived from the thematic opening with its distinctive triplet, but now in a transformed, hushed version.  There are colorful borrowings from the minor key, and then a chromatic ascent in the bass octaves as the right hand lingers on long harmonies.
0:43 [m. 26]--The distinctive triplet from the theme is heard again, and at that point, the off-beat pulsations on F-sharp cease, being replaced by a similar pulsation on a low bass D.  The triplet is then heard one more time, and its continuation again has a colorful borrowing from the minor.  The music then settles onto a low bass octave and slow pulsing D-major chords above it, gently closing the first part.
0:52 [m. 1]--Part 1 (a) repeated.  Theme 1, first presentation in B minor, as at the beginning.
0:58 [m. 5]--Left hand presentation in D minor, as at 0:08.
1:04 [m. 9]--Presentation in F minor followed by strong arrival in F-sharp minor, as at 0:14.
1:11 [m. 13]--Marching line in F-sharp minor with the right hand shadowing the left, as at 0:21.
1:16 [m. 16]--Drop in volume, then throbbing pulse on F-sharp with left hand harmonies and crossover, as at 0:26.
1:25 [m. 22]--Change to D major and hushed version of theme’s opening, as at 0:35.
1:33 [m. 26]--Repetitions of triplet figure and quiet close of first part, as at 0:43.
1:43 [m. 30]--Part 2 (b).  Theme 2 (D minor).  The new melody is passionately yearning and plaintive.  It consists of three upward reaches, the third followed by a longing expansion.  It is accompanied by flowing, downward-arching arpeggios, one for each reach with a longer one under the expanded continuation.  This first phrase is followed by a second, which is moved up a fourth., inflected to G minor, then D major.  It is extended by a measure, working downward and slowing to a close.
2:01 [m. 39]--Development.  The closure of Theme 2 is rudely interrupted by the sudden return of Theme 1, introduced by three sharp chords over rising bass octaves that interrupt the brief reverie.  The distinctive head of the theme is presented in a transformed version, with leaping, pounding bass octaves.  It is transformed to major (specifically B-flat, which also arrives suddenly), and oriented differently.  The major version does have a consistent minor-key inflection (the lowered sixth, G-flat).  The continuation with the long-short rhythm moves steadily downward and includes the familiar left hand descending arpeggios
2:07 [m. 43]--Suddenly hushed again, even mezza voce, the music changes key again, this time to the remote G-flat major (using that note, borrowed from the minor in the previous B-flat passage, as a pivot).  The three chords that introduced the return of Theme 1 are developed into a huge buildup, remaining in G-flat.  After their first presentation, they surge chromatically upward, alternating between the high and middle registers.  Bass chords on the beat are followed by syncopated right hand chords off the beat.  G-flat and B-flat persist as “pedal point” notes.  The alternations become shorter approaching the climax.
2:16 [m. 49]--The ubiquitous head of Theme 1 appears again at the climax.  The key changes back to B-flat (now minor), and the figure is passed forcefully between the right and left hands, both descending an octave on the second exchange.  The entire pattern is then repeated a third higher, in D-flat major (the “relative” key to B-flat minor).
2:23 [m. 53]--In a harmonically unstable passage approaching an even greater climax, the Theme 1 material alternates with heavily syncopated treble chords, all over a strong bass of marching, leaping octaves.  At first the key seems to shift up another third, but F sounds like the preparatory “dominant” for B-flat, a key heavily used in this “development” section.  But then things shift up a half-step and the bass octaves add harmonies in thirds.  F-sharp (the same as G-flat, another heavily featured key) is heard as the “dominant” of B, the supposed home key of the piece.  But Brahms does not return home just yet.  Instead, the harmonies unexpectedly move again back toward F, which is now heard as an actual key center.
2:34 [m. 60]--At the massive climax, the thematic figure is again passed twice between the hands, with a leap downward an octave in both.  F is clearly heard as a key center here, which is confirmed with a huge arrival on a low F octave.  Then, in a gesture highly uncharacteristic of Brahms and reminiscent of Chopin or Liszt, both hands sweep up three octaves in a virtuosic, virtually unmeasured scale.  Then a low chord of G-flat (a half-step higher) leads into a repetition of the virtuosic scale, beginning an octave plus a half-step higher.  At the top, G-flat is interpreted as F-sharp, and the right hand holds that note.  It finally becomes the true preparatory “dominant” for the arrival of B minor and the reprise of the original theme.
2:46 [m. 67]--Part 3 (a’).  After emerging out of the held F-sharp, which is not reiterated, the first four measures of the reprise are presented as they were at the beginning and at 0:52, except for the very last chord, which is moved down a step to help avoid the modulation to D heard in the first part.
2:52 [m. 71]--Analogous to 0:08 and 0:58 [m. 5], but the left hand presentation of the theme and the continuation are now in the home key of B minor, with heavy focus on the “dominant” harmony of F-sharp.
2:58 [m. 75]--This is nearly analogous to 0:14 and 1:04 [m. 9], and elegantly, it starts in D minor, on the same level of the previous passage at 0:08 and 0:58 [m. 5] in the first part.  But Brahms makes another change for the sake of remaining in B minor, which is again subtly carried out.  The descending left hand motion in the long-short rhythm is narrowed to steps instead of arpeggios, and the harmonies above finally emphatically establish the B-minor key, as emphasized in the huge chords that had confirmed F-sharp before.  The first two measures of the marching line from 0:21 and 1:11 [m. 13] are heard in B minor.
3:08 [m. 81]--After Brahms has worked hard to modify things so that he can remain in B minor, he undermines this by moving away in an extension of the marching line.  This extension does increase the tension.  He adds rolled chords and other harmonies to the left hand, and the right hand responses no longer shadow the left hand figures, but become independent.  Brahms veers first toward G minor, then through the circle of fifths to C minor and F minor as both hands reach higher, especially the upward-reaching right hand octaves.  He then suddenly refers to the original cadence motion, bumping things up a half-step to the original goal of the passage in the first section, F-sharp minor.
3:12 [m. 84]--The extension continues.  Brahms uses the same gesture to bump the key up another half-step to G minor, where the diversion began.  On this level, the high-reaching right hand figures are stated three times, but preceded by subtle alterations in the harmony.  Brahms circles back to B minor by adding the note C-sharp (foreign to G minor) and re-interpreting the note B-flat as A-sharp (the “leading tone” in B minor).  The tension explodes into a new cascading series of chords, reminiscent of the F-sharp-minor cadence in Part 1 with the right hand following the left, but expanded, powerful, and firmly in B minor.
3:21 [m. 89]--Conclusion and transition.  The left hand makes a huge arrival on a low octave B.  The F-sharp-minor and D-major material that closed Part 1 is omitted.  It is replaced by a gentle transition to the large B section.  In the low register, the right hand responds to the low bass B with a slow rising line.  This has a sense of longing and ends by juxtaposing the “dominant” above the low B, creating a dissonance.  The first rising line is followed by another with the right hand following the left an octave above in a more active placement.  Finally, up another octave (in the right hand), a third gesture is slowed down like the first one, but with the right hand following the left as in the second.  All is suspended on a held dissonant chord.
B SECTION--B major, Binary form
3:36 [m. 94]--Part 1.  The central section is based on the almost forgotten Theme 2 from 1:43 [m. 30].  It is marked molto dolce espressivo and has the character of a lullaby, although the tempo does not really slow down.  It is in the major version of the home key.  The melody itself is placed in a middle voice below a high tolling F-sharp (the “dominant” note).  The left hand has continuous flowing motion.  This has some leaps up from and down to a low B, but it mainly undulates in the tenor range.  The first phrase (an irregular five measures) ends with a half-close and a brief break from the tolling F-sharp.
3:47 [m. 99]--The second phrase is also five measures.  The first two are slightly varied from those of the first phrase, but then in the third measure, the opening gesture is actually moved up a fifth and transposed to the “dominant” key of F-sharp major.  The high tolling note becomes its own “dominant,” C-sharp.  The flowing left hand reaches higher here, but then quickly plunges downward at the end.
3:57 [m. 104a (94)]--Part 1 repeated.  The first ending (m. 104a) is equivalent to the first measure, m. 94, but in order to move back to B major, the left hand is changed to a generally falling zigzag undulation.  The right hand melody is also changed.  Its rise begins a beat later, and its last note is omitted, creating a slightly different approach to the second measure (m. 95), where the repeat sign leads.  The first phrase follows as before from after 3:36.
4:08 [m. 99]--The second phrase follows as before at 3:47, with the motion to F-sharp major.
4:19 [m. 104b]--Part 2.  The first phrase of four measures begins with the second ending.  It turns from B major to B minor, still with the tolling F-sharp above.  Two statements of the thematic opening figures, the second beginning a step higher, then reaching up another step in the second measure, lead to another key change, to D major (“relative” to B minor).  The volume swells slightly.
4:28 [m. 108]--The entire five-measure opening phrase from Part 1 is stated in D major, a third higher than before, with the tolling upper note now on its “dominant” of A.  That tolling upper note is now given in a new syncopated rhythmic orientation, with twice as many reiterations.  The orientation of the flowing left hand is quite different as well, with new placements of wide leaps and other displacements.  At the end, it plunges precipitously from the lower treble down to the bass.
4:39 [m. 113]--A third phrase is again four measures.  It quickly returns to B major, where the opening gesture from the second phrase of Part 1 is given.  Instead of moving to F-sharp after that, the main gesture moves to a higher level confirming B major, with the tolling note moving up to the keynote, B.  The volume swells slightly again, then recedes for the following coda-like phrase.
4:48 [m. 117]--A final five-measure unit is essentially a small coda.  It develops a dolce sighing figure that vacillates between major and minor, placing the notes D-natural and D-sharp in close juxtaposition.  The left hand stalls and repeats the same wide downward zigzag figure over and over.  The first sighing figure is followed by another decorated by a slow quarter-note triplet rhythm.  Finally, the triplet rhythm is slowed down even more, to half notes, with three notes in the measure.  This is followed by a motion to an incomplete cadence that is firmly in major.  The last measure is the first of the two-measure first ending (m. 121a).  It closes things off with the left hand figure expanding further downward with descending octaves.
4:58 [m. 122a (104b)]--Part 2 repeated.  The second measure of the first ending corresponds to the first measure of the phrase (m. 104b).  The only change in this measure is an accommodation of the left hand to allow it to leap back up from the very low bass to the tenor range.  The repeat sign goes back to m. 105, where the first four-measure phrase in B minor continues as after 4:19.
5:07 [m. 108]--Five-measure phrase in D major, as at 4:28.
5:18 [m. 113]--Four measure phrase returning to B major, as at 4:39.
5:27 [m. 117]--Five measure coda-like phrase, as at 4:48.  The last measure, now the first of the second ending (m. 121b) adds a lower right hand voice with chromatic motion that leads into the extension.
5:38 [m. 122b]--To close off the entire central B section, Brahms draws out the coda with yet another five-measure phrase.  The left hand again stalls on the wide downward-ranging figure with broken octaves.  This is not identical in each measure, being varied in the middle.  The motion to the incomplete cadence is repeated with the new lower, highly chromatic voice.  Then it slides down over D-natural, and the motion is repeated again as the tempo slows and the volume diminishes.  After the incomplete cadence, the right hand moves up to another held harmony with the “dominant” note at the top.  This closes the phrase.
5:51 [m. 127]--The left hand drops out.  The last right hand chord is reiterated, but now with the minor-key inflection to D-natural, and held for two measures.  This prepares for the full literal reprise of the A section.
5:55 [m. 129]--Part 1 (a).  Theme 1, first presentation in B minor, as at the beginning and at 0:52 [m. 1].
6:01 [m. 133]--Left hand presentation in D minor, as at 0:08 and 0:58 [m. 5].
6:07 [m. 137]--Presentation in F minor followed by strong arrival in F-sharp minor, as at 0:14 and 1:04 [m. 9].
6:14 [m. 141]--Marching line in F-sharp minor with the right hand shadowing the left, as at 0:21 and 1:11 [m. 13].
6:18 [m. 144]--Drop in volume, then throbbing pulse on F-sharp with left hand harmonies and crossover, as at 0:26 and 1:16 [m. 16].
6:27 [m. 150]--Change to D major and hushed version of theme’s opening, as at 0:35 and 1:25 [m. 22].
6:36 [m. 154]--Repetitions of triplet figure and quiet close of first part, as at 0:43 and 1:33 [m. 26].
6:44 [m. 158]--Part 2 (b).  Theme 2 in D minor, full presentation in two phrases as at 1:43 [m. 30].
7:01 [m. 167]--Development.  Three sharp chords, then transformation of Theme 1 in B-flat with minor-key inflection, as at 2:01 [m. 39].
7:08 [m. 171]--Passage in G-flat major with buildup based on three chords, as at 2:07 [m. 43].
7:17 [m. 177]--Climax with descending patterns of thematic head in B-flat minor and D-flat major, as at 2:16 [m. 49].
7:24 [m. 181]--Harmonically unstable passage with heavily syncopated treble chords, moving to massive climax, as at 2:23 [m. 53].
7:36 [m. 188]--Climax, then sweeping unmeasured scales on F and G-flat (F-sharp), as at 2:34 [m. 60].
7:48 [m. 195]--Part 3 (a’).  First four measures of reprise, as at 2:46 [m. 67], analogous to 5:55 [m. 129].
7:54 [m. 199]--Left hand presentation in B minor, as at 2:52 [m. 71], here analogous to 6:01 [m. 133].
8:00 [m. 203]--Passage beginning in D minor, but moving back to B minor, as at 2:58 [m. 75], here nearly analogous to 6:07 [m. 137] and the first two measures of the marching line at 6:14 [m. 141].
8:10 [m. 209]--Extension beginning in G minor, then hint at cadence gesture in F-sharp minor, as at 3:08 [m. 81].
8:14 [m. 212]--Continuation and intensification of extension, circling back to B minor, as at 3:12 [m. 84].
8:23 [m. 217]--Conclusion and transition, now to the coda of the entire piece.  It is similar to 3:21 [m. 89].  The first rising line is a bit longer, like the second one in the earlier passage, and the right hand does not follow the left, which now reiterates a single low B without the lower octave doubling.  There is then only one other rising line, but it is extended and uses a flowing triplet motion.  It still uses the same notes, juxtaposing the “dominant” above the low B.  Because it does not pause, the dissonance is not as pronounced.  It winds its way up to the treble in preparation for the coda.
8:31 [m. 221]--The coda is based entirely on Theme 2, specifically its original version first heard in D minor, not the lullaby version from the B section.  Here it is presented in B minor, and in the left hand above a tolling pedal point low B.  It is very subdued and marked pianissimo.  The right hand, continuing from the transition, plays wide-ranging leggiero figuration in triplet rhythm.  In the first phrase, it winds up, then back down over the first two measures.  When the left hand melody becomes active in the last two measures, the right hand stresses notes on the beats as melodic, creating a subtle counterpoint.
8:41 [m. 225]--The second phrase in the left hand is a fourth higher, as expected, with a mild hint at E minor.  As in the theme’s initial presentation, it works downward and is extended by a measure at the end.  The right hand triplet figuration is more complex here.  It generally winds up and back down over the course of the phrase, but the subtly stressed notes on the beat continue the counterpoint that was established at the end of the first phrase.
8:53 [m. 230]--In the final phrase, the triplet figuration moves to the left hand, where it remains anchored to a wide arpeggio.  Over a low B, the arpeggio is in B major, not minor.  The right hand plays the rising fourth that begins Theme 2.  Then the left hand adds a response below its triplets (which can be briefly taken by the right hand), adding the dissonant note C-natural, a half-step above the keynote.  The measure is repeated as the tempo slows and the volume diminishes, fading even more.  A third repetition omits the dissonant response, and the left hand arpeggio remains on B major.  Finally, in the last measure, the rising right hand fourth is held and the left hand arpeggio reaches down to a very low sustained octave B.
9:23--END OF PIECE [233 mm.]

No. 2: Molto passionato, ma non troppo allegro (Sonata-Allegro form).  G MINOR, 4/4 (12/8) time.
0:00 [m. 1]--Theme 1.  Beginning on an upbeat, the texture of the theme is established.  The melody itself is a firm, steady march, but it is decorated by a constantly undulating accompaniment.  This is always in the right hand, even when the melody rises above it (as it does on the second and third beats of the first two measures), so the left hand crosses over the right to play these notes, alternating with low bass octaves on the first and fourth beats.  The entire piece is really in 12/8 (compound) meter, as a triplet rhythm established in the accompaniment remains in force throughout.  Brahms avoids a firm establishment of G minor.  The key center is constantly roving.  “Leading tone motion” on the upbeats suggests first E-flat major (despite a strong motion to G in the bass), then F major.  When G is finally established in the next two measures, which slow toward the end, it is G major, not G minor.
0:11 [m. 5]--The pattern of the first phrase is repeated a third higher, beginning with the leading tone motion in G major.  In the second measure, A major is suggested, and the last two measures move to B major.  Again, the left hand crosses over the right in the first two measures, and there is a slowing, now to a fermata, at the end of the phrase.
0:22 [m. 9]--Transition.  The transition is centered on G.  It is martial in character, with fully harmonized fanfare figures in the right hand and leaping octaves in the bass.  Both are still in the prevalent triplet or 12/8 motion.  After the first forceful motion, the left hand octaves break on the third part of each beat.  The first two measures are in G major.  The next two, which follow a similar pattern, are (finally) in G minor, but even this is transient, leading directly into a one-measure extension that slows and descends to a fermata on the “dominant” chord in D minor, the key where both parts of Theme 2 will be set.
0:36 [m. 14]--Theme 2, Part 1.  In contrast to Theme 1, this portion has a strongly settled key center (D minor).  The melody itself again begins on an upbeat, still in the unceasing triplet rhythm.  The upbeat gestures are doubled in octaves.  In the first three measures after the upbeat, the first note is held.  The passionate melody is agitated, but more subdued than Theme 1 or the transition.  The left hand has wide ranging, flowing arpeggios, and the right hand has a prominent lower voice below the melody.  After the first four measures, the closing gesture is repeated, then fragmented.  There is a large, rapid buildup to a climactic high chord and descending arpeggio on the preparatory “dominant” harmony.
0:52 [m. 21]--Theme 2, Part 2.  The march character takes hold again, and this time it is more inexorable and driven, firmly anchored to D minor.  It begins quietly and ominously, however.  In the lower voice of the right hand, a stepwise arching pattern is established that does not move away from its notes (A—B-flat—A).  The upper voice and the bass are similarly steady.  The bass reinforces the middle voice on the first two upbeats.  The upper voice is actually quite static, and really only moves the harmony in the third and fourth measures.  The bass is more active, and adds a formidable long-short rhythm in the third measure.
1:00 [m. 25]--The previous marching pattern is stated an octave higher in both hands.  After the first two measures, there is a tremendous buildup.  The cadence figure is extended by two beats, as is the long-short rhythm in the bass.  Then those last two measures are restated.  The extended version of the imposing long-short bass rhythm is unchanged, but the right hand harmonies move higher above the middle voice, which briefly loses the first notes of the stepwise arching patterns.  After this, the climax is reached.  The right hand shoots up two octaves, using the arching figure without its first note, and the left hand moves up in solid chords.  At last, the tension is resolved in another huge descending arpeggio.
1:16 [m. 1]--Theme 1.  First presentation ending on G major, as at the beginning.  The upbeat is before the repeat sign, and emerges directly from the preceding arpeggio (in m. 32).
1:26 [m. 5]--Second presentation ending on B major, as at 0:11.
1:37 [m. 9]--Transition with fanfare figures in G major and G minor, as at 0:22.
1:50 [m. 14]--Theme 2, Part 1.  Passionate melody in D minor, as at 0:36.
2:06 [m. 21]--Theme 2, Part 2.  First presentation of ominous march, as at 0:52.
2:14 [m. 25]--Restatement an octave higher, buildup, extension, and climax, as at 1:00.
2:30 [m. 33]--The first part of the development is based completely on Theme 1.  The bass in the upbeat moves up a half-step instead of the original fourth, and even though the bass is on E-flat, the key is actually its “relative,” C minor.  The second measure, due to half-step motion in the bass, moves to F major.  The continuation in the third and fourth measures is varied even more.  The general motion is up instead of down, and the left hand continues to cross over on all the weak beats.  The bass leaps down, then moves up by half-step again, but at the end, there is a strong arrival on B-flat major in both the bass and the melody.
2:39 [m. 37]--In a new, suddenly quiet continuation, the melody becomes more chromatic and even static.  The half-step motion on the upbeats circles back on itself.  The middle voice continues its familiar figuration, but the bass now reiterates B-flat as a “pedal point,” with the left hand still crossing over the right.  In the fourth measure, the melody and the middle voice become more closely integrated, with the melody moving down in an arpeggio over flowing downward arches.  The arpeggio is on B-flat, but now as a “dominant” harmony.  The left hand has an upward arpeggio on the same harmony, but strikingly in the slower “straight” rhythm (the first occurrence of such in this piece), creating a two-against-three rhythm.
2:48 [m. 41]--The upbeat is obscured as part of the previous two-against-three arpeggio.  Both the bass and the melody make a sudden and bold harmonic motion.  Brahms even changes the key signature to two sharps.  The pattern from 2:30 [m. 33] is replicated on a new level, but now at the prevailing more quiet level.  The first bass note is B, but the harmony suggested above it is G-sharp minor.  The second measure suggests C-sharp-major and the continuation reaches a strong arrival on F-sharp major.
2:56 [m. 45]--The continuation in F-sharp major closely follows that at 2:39 [m. 37], with a pedal point on F-sharp.  But the melody now crosses below the middle voice with no hand crossing.  Also, the half-step motion on the upbeats is subtly altered so that instead of circling, it reaches further down.  The fourth measure still uses the integrated melody and middle voice with the arpeggio over the arches, as well as the left hand arpeggio in straight rhythm, but it is unexpectedly on B major instead of F-sharp.
3:05 [m.49]--The previous passage is varied with the melody and middle voice (but not the bass “pedal point”) an octave lower.  The B-major arpeggio is revealed as the “subdominant” harmony in F-sharp, and the upbeat quickly re-establishes the key.  Other than the first measure, which uses a new and dark “diminished seventh harmony” and has an upbeat moving to the next measure by whole step, the passage closely follows the previous pattern.  At the end, the descending B-major arpeggio reaches into the range of the straight-rhythm left hand arpeggio, so the latter zigzags downward at the end to avoid entanglement.  The harmony is unchanged, including the upbeat leading to F-sharp.
3:15 [m. 53]--In a clever reversal, the roles of F-sharp and B are reversed, and the former becomes the preparatory “dominant” of the latter.  The following passage is firmly in B minor (matching the two-sharp key signature).  Theme 1 is abandoned in favor of the ominous closing march of Theme 2.  In a preparatory measure marked mezza voce, the stepwise arching pattern is heard in the bass, then it is transferred to its proper place in the middle voice.  The march theme itself is then heard in B minor, seemingly transferred directly, including the distinctive long-short bass motion in the third measure.  But this is diverted at the end, and instead of the decisive cadence in the fourth measure, the third measure is shifted down a step, and there is a strong suggestion of D major (“relative” to B minor).
3:25 [m. 58]--In another extremely effective harmonic change, D becomes the “dominant” harmony in the home key of G minor.  This arrives quite unexpectedly with another wholesale downward stepwise shift, and for half a measure it is major. The long-short bass motion is given in doubled (“augmented”) note values, but in its original form, with strong motion toward a cadence.  The arching patterns are also briefly expanded, but maintain a focus on D and E-flat.  The volume rapidly swells, then just as rapidly recedes.
3:32 [m. 61]--The two-flat key signature returns, and the previous three-measure pattern is repeated with the right hand an octave higher.  Again, it swells and recedes.  The cadence is stretched out, expanding the pattern to four measures.  The receding volume is continued in the expansion, reaching ppp.
3:41 [m. 65]--Re-transition.  It is very large, and based on a combination of Theme 1 and the stepwise arching patterns from the second part of Theme 2.  The ppp volume is enhanced with the indication sotto voce.  After the upbeat, the arching pattern on D and E-flat continues from the previous passage and remains in force (with frequent inflections to E-natural) through the entire long re-transition.  The left hand crosses over the right on the second and third beats of nearly every measure.  Each measure is derived from the opening of Theme 1.  In this first phrase, on the downbeats and upbeats, harmonized octaves in the low bass, doubled above by right hand octaves enclosing the arching patterns (which here remain on D and E-flat), move up and down, including the chromatic note G-flat, and circle back to a strong cadence on G.
3:51 [m. 69]--This phrase is similar to the last, but the octave motion in the right hand and low bass incorporates a new skip upward, then a leap down to a new chromatic note, this time G-sharp.  At the same time, the first inflection to E-natural occurs in the arching patterns.  Again, a strong cadence in G minor is reached.  The arching patterns are briefly replaced by broken octaves on D.
4:00 [m. 73]--In this third phrase, the right hand octaves and the left hand octaves (which are still harmonized) are no longer doubled, but placed in contrary motion.  While the arching patterns remain on D and E-flat, the introduction of the note B-natural in the crossing left hand notes on the second beat of each measure, along with the note A-flat in the octaves of both hands, strongly suggest a detour to C minor, but again, there is a strong cadence motion to G at the end.
4:09 [m. 77]--In the harmonically unstable fourth phrase, the inflection of the arching pattern to E-natural is in force the entire time, and the note B-natural also becomes constant in the now-static right hand octaves.  The left hand octaves, no longer harmonized, move downward by half-step.  There is an extremely strong buildup in the second measure (which has the left hand cross over on the fourth beat and not the third), and at the beginning of the third measure, which is marked fortissimo, an unexpected chord based on E-natural (already suggested in the second phrase) is revealed as the “dominant” of A major.  The volume quickly recedes, and the phrase is extended by two measures, continuing to emphasize this “dominant” harmony on E.  The right hand octaves drop out here.
4:22 [m. 83]--The final three measures of the re-transition attempt to re-establish G minor, but the continued presence of E-natural in the middle voice actually creates a highly unstable “diminished” harmony.  After the upbeat, the arching figures become a slow trill, with steady alternation of D and E-natural.  This is passed to the left hand as the right hand shoots upward in a G-minor arpeggio.  It then descends in a zigzag pattern, creating the impression of a 6/4 (as opposed to 12/8) meter.  At the same time, the volume recedes more and there is a slowing to a long fermata in preparation for the reprise.
4:33 [m. 86]--Theme 1.  The arrival of the reprise after the huge re-transition is a relief, despite the harmonic instability of Theme 1.  Perhaps to emphasize this, Brahms makes the upbeat a full D-major chord (it had only been an open fifth before) to strengthen the bass motion to G.  After this, however, the first phrase of the theme precedes as it had at the beginning and at 1:16, ending on G major.
4:42 [m. 90]--Second phrase ending on B major, as at 0:11 and 1:26 [m. 5].
4:53 [m. 94]--Transition with fanfare figures in G major and G minor, as at 0:22 and 1:37 [m. 9].  The only change is at the very end, in the one-measure extension, and it is subtle but crucial.  The downward motion is narrower, and the closing fermata is on the “dominant” chord in the home key of G minor rather than D minor.  This allows all of Theme 2 to be set in G minor.
5:07 [m. 99]--Theme 2, Part 1, analogous to 0:36 and 1:50 [m. 14].  The passionate melody with the wide left hand arpeggios is stated in G minor.  It follows the exposition pattern closely, including the buildup and descending arpeggio.
5:22 [m. 106]--Theme 2, Part 2, analogous to 0:52 and 2:06 [m. 21].  The ominous march is stated in G minor, with the arching patterns on D and E-flat, where they were in the long re-transition.  While the right hand is lower than in the exposition, the left hand is raised to a higher octave.  This is out of necessity due to the scope of the keyboard.  This brings the hands closer together.  Because of this, the bass must often leave out the upper note of its octaves.  The buildup already begins at the end of the phrase.
5:30 [m. 110]--The restatement, extension, and climax analogous to 1:00 and 2:14 [m. 25] are significantly altered and intensified.  The passage already begins at a louder level and continues to build.  Although everything moves up to the higher octave as expected, the arching patterns are moved to B-flat and C, creating a fuller, richer harmony.  In addition, the harmonies above them are thirds that suggest E-flat major, making a hint at the opening of the piece.  Finally, the bass octaves already add the forceful rising long-short rhythm in the first two measures, where it has not been present before.  After these first two measures, the continuation and extension follow the pattern more closely, but the two measures at the climax, including the upward reach and plunging arpeggio, are cut off by the onset of the coda.
5:43 [m. 116]--The arrival is fortissimo, but the volume quickly recedes.  The arching patterns on D and E-flat become a trill-like alternation, as they did at the end of the re-transition before the reprise.  The left hand plays a wide ascending arpeggio, then descends in a zigzag pattern that suggests a 6/4 type of meter.  Everything is quite similar to the passage at the end of the re-transition.  The descent continues through two and a half measures with the right hand holding the G-minor chord and the inner slow trill.
5:49 [m. 118, second half]--At this point, Brahms begins one of the most elegant examples of his frequent technique of “notated ritardando,” using longer note values to create the effect of a slowing.  Here, he even marks it “quasi rit.”  Both the slow trill and the zigzag descent continue, but they are notated in straight rhythm (which has only been briefly seen) instead of the prevailing triplets.  The notes are still placed groups of six, however, so the effect is of slowing rather than a change of metric subdivision.  In actuality, two of these six-note groups are spread over a measure and a half instead of a single measure.
5:52 [m. 120]--The zigzag descent finally comes to a resting point in the low bass.  The trill-like alternation slows to six quarter-notes in triplet notation for one measure, then four straight quarter notes for the next one.  This continues the slowing effect without an actual change in speed.  Finally, the trill comes to a stopping point in the following measure.  It has also faded to almost nothing.  Suddenly, on the upbeat of this penultimate measure, both hands play a forceful fortissimo “dominant” chord.  The hands leap inward to the last clinching G-minor chord, which is doubled two octaves apart between them.
6:19 (runoff after 6:02)--END OF PIECE [123 mm.]