PIANO TRIO NO. 1 in B MAJOR, OP. 8
(REVISED 1889/91 VERSION)
Recording: Trio Opus 8 (Michael Hauber, piano; Eckhard
Fischer, violin; Mario de Secondi, cello) [Arte Nova 74321
In 1889, Brahms
told Clara Schumann that he was recomposing his early B-major piano trio and,
with characteristic understatement, said that he did not give
it a wig, but simply recombed and restyled its hair. He
did recognize that it was not a mere revision, despite its
eventually being issued as a “new edition” and retaining the
same opus number used in the original
1854 publication. Indeed, the publisher Simrock,
who had offered Brahms the opportunity to newly edit and
possibly revise his early works, had to create an entirely new
set of plates. He probably assumed that “revisions”
would be simple retouching of details, not a wholesale
restructuring into a new entity. The publication was
delayed until 1891 after several public performances because
Brahms wanted to be sure of the new trio’s effectiveness
before committing to it. Perhaps too much emphasis is
given to the differences between the two versions, and to call
them “two entirely separate compositions,” while not
incorrect, ignores just how much the original inspiration
dictated the final product 35 years later. Perhaps this
explains why Brahms did not seriously consider the idea,
suggested to Clara probably in jest, that he could now call it
Opus 108 instead of Opus 8.
The main themes of the first, third, and fourth movements are
all retained basically intact, and the scherzo movement was
virtually untouched structurally except for the odd and
ineffective pizzicato ending. Even that movement
was given some retouching in scoring. The second themes
of the other three movements were replaced with entirely new
thematic complexes. In the case of the first and fourth
movements, both in a version of sonata-allegro form, this
necessitated completely new development sections and
codas. The first movement is abbreviated by more than
200 measures, and its new second theme, based on a “leaning,”
meter-obscuring upbeat, is far more interesting than the
diffuse second group of the original version. The
development section is also tighter. Other notable
features include the wonderfully disguised and understated
arrival of the recapitulation and the languid reverie of the
coda, which contrasts greatly with the histrionic coda of the
original. The coda of the scherzo now emerges more
organically and effectively. In the slow movement, the
Schubert song quotation in E major, beautiful as it was, is
replaced by an equally radiant and eloquent cello melody in
G-sharp minor. While the varied restatement of the main
theme is retained intact, the “Allegro” interruption is simply
excised, creating a more straightforward ternary design.
The finale was probably changed the most on a structural
level. In addition to a new second theme, the
development and recapitulation were telescoped in a manner
seen in other later works such as the finale of the First Symphony. The new second
theme in D major is surprisingly square and simple, and the
left hand of the piano part, with its continual repeated
off-beat octaves, is not particularly imaginative. But
in the context of the whole, it is more compatible with the
febrile, persistent, and obsessive rhythms of the main
theme. Clara did not care for the new theme, especially
compared to the lush Beethoven quotation in F-sharp major that
it replaced, which had a personal connection to Robert
Schumann. But one of Brahms’s aims was to remove the
“personal” element, and the new theme with its stamping left
hand certainly does that. In the coda, Brahms
surprisingly returns to material from the original version,
but the conclusion is again more organic and less
rhetorical. As noted, retaining the ending in the minor
key is especially true to the Trio’s original
inspiration. This is a late masterpiece created out of a
wildly youthful composition. The reasons for keeping the
original opus number are sound, but inevitably misleading, as
is the continued designation of “Piano Trio No.1,” since it
really is his last of four rather than his first of three.
This guide is constructed in such a manner that it can be used
independently of that for the
original version, but I found it impossible to avoid
references and comparisons at the points of departure and
differentiation. Indeed, such comparison enriches the
study, enjoyment, and appreciation of the revised
version. Where the music is essentially the same as the
original version, the text from that guide is typically
reproduced almost exactly, with adjustments made at the points
FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut Lübeck)
SCORE FROM IMSLP (First Edition [monochrome] from the Royal
Danish Library--includes violin and cello parts)
SCORE FROM IMSLP (From Breitkopf & Härtel Sämtliche Werke)
Movement: Allegro con brio (Sonata-Allegro form). B MAJOR,
Cut time [2/2], with 4 nonconsecutive measures of 3/2.
0:00 [m. 1]--Theme 1. The piano begins on an
upbeat, playing the first four measures of the full-hearted,
broadly lyrical melody in the tenor range. A middle
voice is established with up-down alternating notes on narrow
intervals of a second, third, or fourth while the left hand
establishes a “pedal point” on the low keynote B and the
“dominant” note F-sharp above it, stressing the second beat of
the measure. After four measures, the cello enters a
third above the melody. The violin entry from the
original version is removed.
0:15 [m. 9]--In the last four measures of the
twelve-measure melody, the piano moves above the cello and the
direction of the middle voice is reversed. The left hand
allows one intrusion of the “subdominant” note E amid the
constantly reiterated B and F-sharp. The removal of the
violin figures constitutes the only major change from the
original version in the presentation of Theme 1. The
phrase reaches full closure.
0:23 [m. 13]--In a contrasting phrase, the cello takes
the lead and moves above the piano. The middle voice of
the piano begins to introduce mild syncopation. After
three measures, the left hand reluctantly abandons its “pedal
point” and becomes slightly more active. There is a
slight buildup in intensity, then the cello soars up to a
half-cadence as the piano’s middle voice becomes more strongly
0:38 [m. 21]--The violin now takes over the leading
role, its first entry in the revised version, playing the
slightly varied main melody above cello harmonies. The
piano gives up its melodic role and concentrates more on its
syncopation, which now also becomes strong in the left-hand
bass. In the fourth measure, the syncopation is
emphasized with strong octaves in both hands moving down a
half-step. The next four measures are varied from the
beginning, moving earlier to a full B-major cadence with
thicker piano harmonies and increasing excitement. The
four measure extension from 0:15 [m. 9] is dropped.
0:53 [m. 29]--The piano takes over the lead, finally
reaching out of the middle range, and begins the contrasting
phrase. The cello moves to leaping syncopation,
supporting the piano bass, then joining the piano
harmony. After two measures, the violin harmonizes the
piano a third below and the cello moves to broken
octaves. The buildup in volume has become pronounced,
and the contrasting phrase stalls on its fifth measure.
The piano reiterates the fourth measure, the cello taking over
the harmony from the violin, and then all three instruments
play strong, powerful chords in half notes leading to a highly
dramatic and anticipatory half-close. The phrase is
shortened to seven total measures.
1:06 [m. 36]--All three instruments sing forth the
beginning of the theme in a grand manner, in the version heard
at 0:38 [m. 21]. Both the cello and violin lines are
covered in the piano’s high right-hand chords. The left
hand plays upward leaps between B and F-sharp in strong
syncopation. After the first four-measure unit, the
right hand joins these syncopations, with both hands soaring
up in octaves, then quickly back down. The next unit returns to the
original pitch level, but it is reduced to three measures,
stalling on the second and repeating it as the third.
This isolates a strong three-note descending motion that has
always been present in the theme.
1:20 [m. 43]--The phrase is broken off by another grand
rhetorical gesture. The three-note descent that has been
newly emphasized is now stated in long half notes over full
chords, still in all three instruments. The piano then
plays a strong sequel to this, using a long-short dotted
rhythm to move to a dissonant chord. This “suspended”
chord then resolves to an F-sharp-major chord, where another
statement of the pattern with long chords and the
dotted-rhythm sequel seems to suggest D-sharp minor
(“relative” to the “dominant” key of F-sharp).
1:34 [m. 51]--A third statement of the three-note
descent in long chords moves back to F-sharp. There
follows the first of four inserted 3/2 measures. These
insertions invariably contain the same basic material: a
shortened version of the three-note descent, here played by
the strings in thirds, followed by the same faster descent
from the piano. This pattern is given a second time (a
fourth statement of the long chords), with the harmony now
moving a step lower, to the “dominant” chord suggesting A
major. The second 3/2 measure follows with the same
pattern of shorter descents, colored by the new harmony.
1:44 [m. 55]--Suddenly much quieter, the cello plays a
more mysterious version of the theme that wavers between B
minor and D minor. The piano originally played an
accompaniment like the patterns at the beginning, but over a
“diminished seventh” harmony with an E-sharp “pedal point” in
the bass. In the revised version, these “diminished
seventh” patterns were changed to arching arpeggios in
contrary motion between the hands. After two measures,
the pattern is varied with the cello and piano right hand
moving higher and the bass moving off its “pedal point.”
The violin originally played arpeggios like those now removed
from the beginning. In the revision, the violin enters
at this point and harmonizes with the cello.
1:51 [m. 59]--Suddenly the troubled harmony emerges
back home in the warm, comforting B major. The violin
and cello harmonize on the first three notes of the
theme. This is interrupted by the third 3/2
measure. It contains the same twofold statement of the
shorter three-note descent, but the right hand of the piano
plays both, the second an octave higher than the first, while
the strings continue to draw out the theme. The same
two-measure pattern begins an octave higher, but at the fourth
and last 3/2 measure the piano moves back down to its original
octaves. In the revised version, the second three-note
descent is omitted, and the transition begins with a full
2:00 [m. 63]--Transition. This is the point where
the original and revised versions deviate, and they are
basically two entirely different movements going forward from
here. In the new transition, which seems smoother and
more organic than the original, the piano begins a triplet
rhythm on the upbeat with the hands playing in unison an
octave apart. They play a grand sweeping gesture that
begins very low and incorporates scales and arpeggios, along
with some arching motion. Meanwhile, the strings
complement this with another rhetorical gesture using a
long-short rhythm and full harmony.
2:03 [m. 65]--The entire sweeping motion is repeated
with the instruments reversing roles and the strings taking
the triplets, the cello leading for a couple of beats before
the violin joins it an octave higher. The second measure
is now reiterated, with the strings repeating the measure’s
triplets an octave higher. The piano’s rhetorical
gesture with the long-short rhythm is an octave lower in the
reiteration and changes the bass note from E-sharp to
E-natural, creating a major chord instead of a “diminished”
2:08 [m. 68]--The strings rush into a downward arching
figure, still in the triplet rhythm. This is quickly
passed to the piano, which repeats it a bit lower, with the
hands very slightly and distinctively offset. It is
passed back to the strings, again a bit lower, before the
piano plays an upward motion, still with the “offset”
hands. The whole pattern is played again at a lower
level with the entries reversed, the piano leading and the
cello (without the violin) playing the last upward
motion. The harmony strongly suggests the preparatory
“dominant” for G-sharp minor, where Theme 2 will occur.
2:13 [m. 70]--The cello expands the upward motion in
triplets, repeating it three more times in the next measure as
the piano plays punctuating chords. The rising triplet
is then passed to the violin a step lower, with the piano
still playing chords. The cello takes over again, moving
the pattern down another step, and then it breaks from the
triplets, playing an upward “questioning” gesture in straight
rhythm, which is continued by the violin. These figures
and the piano chords under them become quieter. The
piano chords are more isolated under the “questioning”
gestures. The strings then prolong over the bar line a
descending leap that confirms the arrival of G-sharp minor and
sets up the beginning of Theme 2.
2:25 [m. 76]--Theme 2 (G-sharp minor). The new
Theme 2 is quite simply an arching arpeggio, falling, then
rising in octaves split between the hands of the piano.
Its interest lies in its metric displacement, as the downward
and upward motions both begin on the upbeats of the
measure. The arching line is followed by a gently rising
one in long-short rhythm, placed in the middle voice of
chords. This arrives on the “dominant” harmony in
G-sharp. The whole pattern is repeated a step higher,
with minor variants and a full arrival on G-sharp. The
string contributions are minimal, consisting of two held notes
over bar lines at the beginning of each statement.
2:42 [m. 84]--The rising line in long-short rhythm,
surrounded by chords, is now isolated and brought down to the
piano’s tenor register. The strings become more active,
playing a syncopated descent in long unison notes. The
expression and volume slightly build as the piano expands the
rising line. It then descends with two-note slurs,
harmonized by the strings, who are still in unison with each
other. They reach upward at the end of the gesture,
preparing for another one. The key briefly moves back to
2:51 [m. 88]--The piano moves its right hand back to
the higher register, and with richer harmony, the rising line
in long-short rhythm is played again, a step higher than the
last time. The strings play the same long syncopated
descent in unison. The piano’s expansion of the rising
line is again followed by the descent, harmonized by the
strings, which again reach upward. The key briefly moves
to C-sharp major.
3:00 [m. 92]--Throughout the previous patterns, the
metric orientation has remained focused on the upbeats.
This now becomes even more pronounced as the upward string
reach is expanded. The piano echoes the strings on their
preceding upward reach but makes each note of the reach a
broken octave and exchanges the hands on these broken
octaves. This upward reach is played three more times,
with the unison strings leading the “broken octave” piano,
each time moving higher, as the excitement and intensity
build. This reaches a breaking point as the piano
finishes its fourth upward reach on a dissonant chord.
3:09 [m. 96]--With grand sweep, Theme 2 is now taken by
the strings in unison. The piano punctuates it with
forceful chords on the first and last beats of each
measure. The left hand on the beat is immediately
followed by the right hand off the beat. The arching
line is played as expected, but the gently rising line that
had followed it is now replaced by two measures of leaping
octaves in the unison strings.
3:18 [m. 100]--The piano chords, which have been moving
steadily upward under the leaping octaves, now become
continuous as the strings shift their octave up a step.
The excitement has steadily increased and now erupts into near
euphoria as the G-sharp-minor key briefly gives way back to
the home key, its “relative” of B major. This happens as
the strings play a full, warm, and rich turn on a rhythmically
asymmetrical five-note group. After they play this turn
a second time, the minor key quickly returns as the strings
rise to a trill. Still in unison, with emphatic piano
chords, they play a decisive cadence.
3:39 [m. 110]--Closing material. Instead of a new
“closing theme,” Brahms returns to the triplet rhythm of the
transition, with its downward turns on each triplet
figure. First the violin echoes the cello, and the piano
right hand continues the figure in high octaves. The
string pattern is then reversed, with the violin playing
first, and the piano continuation is now in the low
bass. The third pattern has the cello leading the violin
again, but now the piano continuation is a rising arpeggio
followed by a full measure of the “turning” triplets in high
octaves. Finally, the violin leads the cello in a fourth
pattern, followed by a plunging piano arpeggio.
3:48 [m. 115a]--First ending. The strings drop
out and the “turning” triplets move to the low bass. The
right hand is in the tenor register, playing a chord
progression that leads smoothly back home to B major.
The bass triplets slow down to straight rhythm eighth notes,
then quarter and half notes, with one held over the bar
line. The distinctive upbeat to the main theme is heard
closing the third and last measure of the marked first ending
3:57 [m. 1]--Theme 1 as at the beginning. Initial
presentation of the first four measures by the piano, then the
next four with the cello entry.
4:12 [m. 9]--Four-measure closure with cello moving
above the piano, as at 0:15.
4:20 [m. 13]--Contrasting phrase with syncopation and
buildup in intensity, as at 0:23.
4:35 [m. 21]--Violin takes over the lead with piano
syncopation and increasing excitement, as at 0:38.
4:51 [m. 29]--Contrasting phrase led by piano, moving
to half-close with powerful chords, as at 0:53.
5:04 [m. 36]--Grand statement of thematic opening with
syncopated piano leaps, then isolation of three-note
descending motion, as at 1:06.
5:17 [m. 43]--Statements of three-note descent in long,
full chords and dotted-rhythm sequel, as at 1:20.
5:30 [m. 51]--Third and fourth statements of long
chords, each followed by 3/2 measures, as at 1:34.
5:40 [m. 55]--Mysterious cello statement of theme over
“diminished seventh” harmony, with changes from the original
version, as at 1:44.
5:48 [m. 59]--Re-emergence of B major, then music
including two more 3/2 measures, as at 1:51.
5:56 [m. 63]--Transition. Point of divergence
from original version. Sweeping piano gesture in triplet
rhythm with rhetorical long-short complement from the strings,
as at 2:00.
6:00 [m. 65]--Reversal of roles in restatement of
sweeping gesture, then extension by reiteration, as at 2:03.
6:04 [m. 68]--Downward arching figure and upward motion
passed between instruments, as at 2:08.
6:09 [m. 70]--Expansion of upward motion in triplets,
then “questioning gesture,” as at 2:13.
6:21 [m. 76]--Theme 2 in G-sharp minor. Arching
arpeggio with metric displacement, then gently rising line in
long-short rhythm, followed by repetition of the pattern a
step higher, as at 2:25.
6:39 [m. 84]--Long-short rising line with syncopated
strings, then descent in two-note slurs, as at 2:42.
6:47 [m. 88]--Extension of preceding material with
brief motion to C-sharp major, as at 2:51.
6:56 [m. 92]--Expansion of upward reach with “broken
octave” piano, as at 3:00.
7:05 [m. 96]--Grand statement of Theme 2 by unison
strings emerging into leaping octaves, as at 3:09.
7:14 [m. 100]--Steady increase in excitement with
continuous piano chords and five-note string turns, then
decisive cadence in G-sharp minor, as at 3:18.
7:34 [m. 110]--Closing material. Downward turns
in triplet rhythm with varied instrument order, as at 3:39.
7:43 [m. 115b]--In the second ending, the harmony of
the piano chord is changed and the triplets in the low bass
are moved down a third. Most importantly, the strings do
not drop out, but play a harmonized descending line against
piano chords in the tenor register. This first statement
stays in G-sharp minor, but a second statement of the same
material, with the low bass triplets and the descending string
line, shifts down to E major. This breaks into two
rising piano arpeggios, still in triplets, against detached
string chords, during which E major is quickly changed to E
7:56 [m. 121]--The key signature changes to one sharp,
signifying E minor or G major. The pattern at the second
ending is reversed, with the cello playing the low bass
triplets and the piano playing the harmonized descending
line. The first statement briefly suggests G major,
while the second re-confirms E minor. As before, the
second statement is followed by arpeggios and detached chords,
now with the strings playing the arpeggios, passed from cello
to violin, and the piano the chords. The second arpeggio
changes to “straight” rhythm and is played pizzicato.
8:09 [m. 127]--The downward-turning triplets are now
used for a suddenly passionate outburst. The piano plays
two such figures in octaves, the first in the bass, followed
quickly by a second in the right hand. The cello and
violin then follow with their own triplets. After this,
the piano breaks into a sweeping upward arpeggio on B major,
now the “dominant” harmony in E minor. The pattern is
repeated with subtle changes. The piano right hand and
violin triplets are moved up an octave and the cello one is
moved down a half-step. The piano arpeggio that follows
has a similar contour, but it is over a completely new chord,
that of F major.
8:16 [m. 131]--The triplet patterns are now passed in
the same way, piano left hand, piano right hand, cello, and
violin, but without the intervening arpeggios. Over two
measures, the figures move steadily upward, and the piano left
hand joins the cello on its second figure. Over the next
two measures, the distribution of the triplet figures is
varied, still with the steady upward motion. The piano
right hand adds harmony to its octaves, along with two rapidly
sweeping arpeggios. Then, in the two measures after
that, the piano dovetails the turning figures between the
hands, with one hand beginning before the other finishes, the
right hand still in harmony. The strings punctuate with
chords, and the key center has arrived back home on B.
8:28 [m. 137]--The arrival on B is in minor, not major,
and the violin sings forth the opening of Theme 1 in a
minor-key transformation. The cello drops out for five
measures. Against the statement, the piano plays an
arching line in two-note harmonies, with a slight offset
between the hands, the right just lagging after the
left. The violin statement of Theme 1 breaks, isolating
a downward stepwise figure and then plunging down in an
arpeggio. The piano repeats its upward motion and then,
against the violin arpeggio, the right hand moves to
undulations against rising arpeggios in the left, the right
hand still lagging slightly behind.
8:38 [m. 142]--The cello takes over from the violin,
and the Theme 1 pattern begins again, now in F-sharp
minor. The first three measures correspond closely,
although the initial descent in the piano’s right hand is now
in octaves. The offset between the hands
continues. The cello follows the pattern by isolating
the downward stepwise figure, but then it changes it by
replacing the plunging arpeggio with a slow stepwise
descent. The piano also changes here, still moving to
undulations, but much slower ones that break the offset
between the hands. The harmonic motion is sidestepped
when the violin re-enters, echoing and slightly changing this
8:53 [m. 149]--Beginning in F-sharp minor, a highly
dynamic and unstable passage begins with the cello murmuring
ominously in its low register. The piano again sets up
the offset between the hands, which play an octave
apart. It begins with a two-note alternation and
descent, moving toward C-sharp minor. The violin
re-enters, echoing the piano’s alternation and descent.
As it does, the piano plays its familiar arching motion in
two-note harmonies. There then follows a descending
sequence on the pattern, with each entry coming a third
lower. These entries are from piano, then cello, then
piano again. The piano plays the arching motion under
the cello entry.
9:04 [m. 154]--The piano finally breaks after very
briefly bringing the hands together. The violin begins a
similar pattern, alternating melodic notes with its low open
G. It begins not a third, but a step below the piano’s
previous statement, and the cello briefly enters at the
end. The piano follows the violin, again a step lower,
with its right hand imitating the violin motion, but in
octaves instead of with the constant lower note. The
left hand enters in low octaves as the cello had done.
The strings in unison begin the familiar two-note alternation
over broken octaves in the piano right hand, the left hand
playing a slower turn.
9:11 [m. 157]--The tension has been steadily building,
and now Brahms unleashes it in a powerful buildup. The
piano left hand takes the lead in low octaves on the familiar
turn, with the right hand following in broken octaves.
The strings move to sustained octaves that leap up and
down. The volume builds. For two measures, the
string octaves and the piano bass remain anchored to the note
G while the right hand moves steadily up by half-step.
The piano bass then gradually moves up as well as the strings
begin to leap in syncopation, still on the note G.
Finally, the instruments come together for a massive cadence
in the unexpected key of C. It seems as if the arrival
will be on C minor, but the cadence is diverted to major.
9:22 [m. 162]--In powerful chords and octaves, with
some syncopation, the piano begins the alternation while the
strings play a fragment of Theme 1. While the piano
begins in C major, the Theme 1 fragment is in F minor.
Everything then erupts in another C-major cadence, with wide
leaps between chords and octaves in the right hand against
forcefully descending arpeggios in the left, the strings
playing chords in triple and quadruple stops.
9:27 [m. 165]--An unexpected element returns, the
opening of the transition passage, familiar from the
exposition as the point of divergence from the original
version. The strings play the sweeping gesture in
triplet rhythm, with the cello leading on the upbeat.
The piano plays the rhetorical complement with long-short
rhythm. C major reluctantly yields to F minor, becoming
its “dominant.” The pattern is stated again, now with
the roles reversed, the piano playing the sweeping motion with
some added harmonic thirds, reaching higher. F minor is
confirmed in an extension beginning with a cello descent in
straight rhythm over agitated piano chords, still in triplets
split between the hands. These continue another measure.
9:37 [m. 170]--After the violin leads in with agitated
triplets, both strings take over the role that the piano
played at 9:22 [m. 162], and that passage is varied with
instrument roles reversed and the key shifted up a step, to D
major. The piano plays the Theme 1 fragment, keeping the
turning triplets in the low bass. The powerful cadence
follows in D major, as it had in C before, again with the
roles of the instruments largely reversed. The strings
do not include the rapid arpeggios that the left hand had
9:43 [m. 173]--Following the pattern at 9:27 [m. 165],
the triplets and rhetorical long-short rhythm of the
transition passage follow in the expected key of G
minor. The piano plays the triplets, beginning with
powerful octaves in the low bass before the hands are doubled
in octaves, and the strings play the long-short rhythm.
As expected, the pattern begins with a reversal and with the
strings taking the triplets. But halfway through this
second statement the triplets pass back to the piano, the
long-short rhythm restarts in the strings and the harmony is
almost magically diverted to A major.
9:51 [m. 177]--The extension using the cello descent in
straight rhythm and the piano chords in triplets split between
the hands is lengthened and used to settle things down.
A lingering fragment of the “transition” triplets is added to
the mix. The key moves from A major to E major, albeit
with a slight minor-key inflection using the note
C-natural. This E-major harmony is extended over three
measures. The music attempts to settle down, fighting
two surges before finally yielding its energy.
10:00 [m. 181]--The one-sharp key signature changes
back to the five sharps of B major and G-sharp minor.
The piano straightens out its rhythm, abandoning the triplets,
and descends in octaves, still with alternating hands.
The strings hold the note G-sharp, still as part of the
harmony in E major. But then they, leading the piano,
move gently but decisively to G-sharp minor.
10:10 [m. 185]--Re-transition. The piano moves
back to the triplets, using the downward turning figure that
was so pervasive throughout the development and will continue
as the recapitulation begins. It alternates between the
right hand and the low left-hand bass. Meanwhile, the
strings begin a clear statement of Theme 1 in G-sharp minor,
reminiscent of the minor-key statements heard earlier.
After two measures, the rising line is reiterated twice,
moving upward and gently building. The key smoothly
moves from G-sharp minor to its “relative,” which happens to
be the home key of B major. The piano triplets
become continuous in the right hand. Here, the
recapitulation sneaks in.
10:19 [m. 189]--In the original version, the
recapitulation of Theme 1 had been literal. Here, it is
varied and abbreviated. The re-transition has smoothly
and imperceptibly led into the reprise, which begins with the
passage originally heard at 0:38 and 4:35 [m. 21]. This
arrival is further disguised by a sighing figure leaning into
the familiar first melodic note. The violin leads
melodically, harmonized by the cello. Instead of the
syncopation it played before, the piano now continues with the
turning triplet rhythm as it had been established in the
development, played mostly in octaves alternating between
hands. The third and fourth measures establish
continuous triplets in the right, then the left hand, and the
fourth measure has a brief return to the original syncopation
with strong octaves moving down a half-step, but only in the
10:27 [m. 193]--The second half of the phrase follows
the same pattern with the expected full arrival and cadence on
B major. The turning triplets again alternate between
hands in octaves. At the end of the phrase, the right
hand has a powerful upward arpeggio in straight rhythm that is
an entirely new addition not heard in the exposition.
This adds a new level of grandeur and excitement to the
10:36 [m. 197]--The contrasting phrase is skipped, and
Brahms moves to the climactic one from 1:06 and 5:04 [m.
36]. The already full-hearted phrase is made even richer
and more brilliant through the continuing triplet motion,
which is heard in the piano bass and the violin in
alternation. The violin triplets are especially
breathtaking. The cello plays its original line an
octave higher. The cello joins the triplets in the third
measure. In the last three measures, the piano bass
plays the original syncopated leaping octaves, but the cello
takes the original violin line and the violin continues its
10:51 [m. 204]--Transition. The remainder of the
Theme 1 complex, including the 3/2 measures, is cut. The
three-note descent in long chords from 1:20 and 5:17 [m. 43]
is heard, but then things deviate toward the sweeping triplets
from the transition. The clear connection between the
dotted-rhythm sequel to the chords and the long-short
complement from the transition itself becomes apparent.
The sweeping triplets are heard in the piano bass (doubled for
one beat by the cello) and the long-short chords in the right
hand. But then the strings play a familiar descent that
turns to minor as the triplets continue in piano octaves.
10:58 [m. 208]--The key signature changes to two sharps
for B minor. Theme 2 must appear in the home key center,
but it remains a minor-key theme. The triplets begin
again in the strings, with the long-short rhythm in the
piano. The triplets quickly pass to the piano as the
strings move again to the familiar descent, with an offset
between them, as one of them always holds notes over bar lines
and strong beats. They then repeat the descent in faster
notes, with the violin playing staccato as the piano
triplets continue in octaves between hands. The descent
begins on an upbeat and is clearly derived from Theme 2, hence
11:05 [m. 211]--The new transition now settles to its
cadential pattern. The piano triplets are repeated four
times at the same level, beginning on the second beat of the
measure, now in contrary motion between the hands. They
and the strings, which play held notes against the triplets,
move to a forceful cadence in B minor on the third beat of the
measure. The same pattern and cadence are then repeated
with the right hand and violin beginning an octave
lower. This time a fifth triplet is added as an upbeat
(originally heard as a downbeat, not in contrary motion,
ending the previous sequence). The cadence is thus
shifted back a beat. It now ends with an upward string
leap, a questioning gesture setting up the full return of
11:13 [m. 215]--Theme 2. In the original version,
it was Theme 2 that was totally replaced by new material after
the literal recapitulation of Theme 1. Here in the
revised version, with Theme 1 varied and abbreviated, Theme 2
is presented in full, with relatively minor alterations, but
of course transposed to the home key center. This first
statement corresponds closely to 2:25 and 6:21 [m. 76].
It is presented with new scoring. The main arching
arpeggio beginning on the upbeat is now played by the strings
in octaves. They made minimal contributions
before. The piano adds a new and decorative arpeggio
against it, moving in notes twice as fast and in contrary
motion to the main theme. The gently rising line is
slightly changed, moving to the top of the piano chords under
held string notes.
11:22 [m. 219]--The repetition of the Theme 2 phrase a
step higher, with full arrival on B minor, follows as
expected, still in the strings and incorporating the new
decorative piano arpeggio. The gently rising line
includes octaves in the piano, and it is again on the outside
of the piano harmony under the string notes.
11:31 [m. 223]--Analogous to 2:42 and 6:39 [m.
84]. Essentially, the string and piano contributions are
reversed, with the strings playing the rising line and the
piano the syncopated descent. They come together as
before on the two-note slurs. Despite the basic
reversal, the piano still provides the harmony and the strings
still play in unison.
11:41 [m. 227]--Analogous to 2:51 and 6:47 [m.
88]. Again, the strings and piano are reversed from the
exposition, with the piano again playing the syncopated
descent but adding harmony to it. The strings are still
in unison. The brief harmonic motion is to E major.
11:51 [m. 231]--Analogous to 3:00 and 6:56 [m.
92]. The reversal of material between piano and strings
continues, but now it is especially artful. The piano
has reached upward, and the strings echo on the upbeat.
The three additional overlapping exchanges follow as expected,
with the piano leading the strings. In these three
exchanges, the piano plays in broken octaves, as it had in the
exposition, but because of the reversal, the broken octaves
are metrically displaced. The last upward string reach
breaks the pattern.
12:00 [m. 235]--At this point of high tension, the
reversal breaks, and the instruments follow the exposition
more closely. The grand statement of Theme 2 corresponds
to 3:09 and 7:05 [m. 96]. The strings play the theme
against the piano chords, then break into leaping octaves.
12:09 [m. 239]--The buildup in excitement, continuous
piano chords, and five-note string turns (with brief motion to
D major) correspond to 3:18 and 7:14 [m. 100]. The last
five measures are subtly intensified and changed from minor to
major in a departure from the exposition. After the
second five-note turn, the strings add more notes to their
upward motion, and the metric placement of the piano chords is
changed leading into and under the trill. The trill is
placed a step higher, and the cadence, in B major, not minor,
is approached from a full octave above the arrival. Two
more piano chords are added to the cadence measure.
12:30 [m. 249]--Closing material. The five-sharp
key signature for B major returns. The scoring and
sequence correspond exactly to 3:39 and 7:34 [m. 110], but the
change to major makes the familiar triplets sound triumphant
instead of tragic. The plunging piano arpeggio that had
led into the first and second endings now emerges into a
highly satisfying cadence measure that corresponds to
neither. The strings hold their note over up-down chord
alternations in the piano that cross over the triplet
rhythm. This second B-major cadence within a few
measures serves to confirm the definitive arrival of major
before the coda.
CODA - Tranquillo
12:42 [m. 255]--At the point of the cadence, the cello
begins to sing forth the opening of Theme 1, dolce.
The piano, which is suddenly quieter, remains in the triplet
rhythm, but the right hand’s bell-like figures are in groups
of two, a higher harmony and a lower note in
alternation. These groups of two “cross” the triplets
and essentially make a six-note group over two beats. To
make things even more complex, the left hand plays a
continuous upward series of leaps from B to F-sharp in
“straight” syncopation over two octaves. After the
initial rise of the theme, the cello gently embellishes the
next measure with a descending arpeggio as the piano right
hand breaks its continuous motion, creating more conventional
12:48 [m. 257]--The violin takes over the continuation
of the theme, which reverses the direction of the cello
motion. The piano’s bell-like triplets also reverse
direction, moving upward, still using the complex “cross”
groupings. The left hand repeats the same syncopated
two-octave pattern of leaps from B to F-sharp for a third and
fourth time. Again, the second measure is embellished
with a descending arpeggio.
12:53 [m. 259]--The cello takes over, continuing the
theme, and the piano plays its same patterns with the
bell-like descents. This time, the arpeggio in the
second measure is a six-note group in triplet rhythm, notated
as such, which arches up at the end. Here, the left hand
finally changes slightly, now leaping from B to E. The
violin takes over as expected with a reversal in direction,
also adding the six-note group. Now the left-hand leaps
outline the full chord on F-sharp.
13:04 [m. 263]--The violin isolates the figure in the
last measure with the held note and the six-note group, moving
down a step. The piano continues its same patterns for
one measure, now with the left hand outlining the full B-major
chord. The violin repeats this figure four more times,
descending in sequence. The piano abandons its complex
rhythm, playing a left-hand arpeggio in the first half of each
measure, with the right hand harmonizing the violin’s six-note
group in the second half. The cello also enters for this
sequence, adding a layer of complexity with an upward arpeggio
in “straight” rhythm against the six-note groups in the violin
and piano. The violin deviates slightly from the
sequence in the last two measures, leaping down to dissonant
held notes anticipating the six-note groups, then reaching up
for those groups.
13:21 [m. 268]--The sequence finally breaks. The
violin and cello hold long notes on E and G-sharp. The
volume is pianissimo and both instruments are marked perdendo,
“dying away.” The piano plays an arpeggio in contrary
motion, moving inward, on the “subdominant” E-major harmony
suggested by the long string notes. Both hands are now
in “straight” rhythm, abandoning the triplets. In the
next measure and a half, the piano plays descending arpeggios
doubled in both hands, but these now reverse the previous
rhythmic complexity. They are in three-note groups in
“straight” rhythm that cross over the beat. There are
four of these groups, moving steadily downward. Then
there is a break for one beat.
13:30 [m. 271]--Beginning on the upbeat, the piano
gently plays a gentle reminiscence of Theme 2, holding the
notes as it descends. The violin holds a note, then
reaches up as the piano breaks. This pattern is then
repeated with the cello replacing the violin. In the
repetition, the piano moves its last note up a half-step,
creating a colorful “diminished” harmony. Brahms
indicates a slowing over these echoes of Theme 2.
13:44 [m. 275]--Brahms indicates that the tempo should
return to a steady, but sustained pace. The piano swells
outward with the hands in contrary motion. The left hand
plays the opening of Theme 2 twice, the second time an octave
lower. The right hand follows it, reaching up a
half-beat behind. Against this, the violin plays double
stops with the cello joining the harmony. The strings
then reverse the pattern of the piano, with the violin playing
the Theme 2 opening and the cello rising against it (but not
following behind). Against the strings, the piano plays
B-major chords, the right hand moving steadily down.
13:56 [m. 279]--A gradual buildup has begun. The
strings break into contrary-motion arpeggios in faster notes,
one moving outward, then two moving inward. The cello
begins above the violin. The violin adds a lower voice
on another string. This lower violin voice and the cello
add dissonant suspended notes and resolutions. Both
hands of the piano, in alternation, play octaves on the
“dominant” note F-sharp, each of them leaping in opposite
directions over the course of four measures. The climax
is reached with the tempo still held back as the strings end
their arpeggios at a point of maximum tension and
14:10 [m. 283]--With forceful sweep, the tension is
resolved in a series of outward string leaps from upbeats to
downbeats, at first moving steadily upward, then leaping down
and up in octaves. The piano plays highly distinctive
arpeggios against these. They are in groups of six
(triplet rhythm), with the first note of the group a low bass
octave followed by a descent doubled in octaves between the
hands. The last note of the six-note group, however, is
omitted, creating a sense of excitement as the “holes” are
filled by string upbeats. These joyously sweeping
gestures continue for four measures, with two in each measure.
14:17 [m. 287]--Although less rhetorical in character,
the “plagal” cadence from the original version is maintained,
as the last two measures of sweeping gestures are on the
“subdominant” E major and minor. The instruments come
together on a full-measure fortissimo B-major chord
with the “third,” D-sharp, on top in the violin. This is
followed by two shorter chords with the piano bass moving
higher and the violin playing triple stops with the keynote on
top. Finally, the violin leaps down an octave and the
piano leaps down two octaves (three in the low bass) for the
last held chord, to which the cello adds notes.
14:31--END OF MOVEMENT [289 mm.]
2nd Movement: Scherzo
– Allegro molto; Meno allegro (Scherzo and Trio). B MINOR,
0:00 [m. 1]--Part 1. This first section presents
two twelve-bar units, subdivided into three four-bar segments,
each following the same basic rhythmic pattern. An
upbeat in eighth notes leads into three bars of straight
quarter notes, followed by a closing downbeat. The
upbeat to the next segment is in the same bar as the
downbeat. The first four bars are presented by the
cello, which plays the basic form of the theme, a closed,
arching phrase, at first played lightly and quietly.
0:02 [m. 5]--It is often said that Brahms’s only
revision to this movement was the replacement of the
coda. He did make minor adjustments elsewhere.
This is one of the most significant of these. The piano
immediately responds with the same phrase, harmonized in the
right hand. The left hand enters a measure later in canon,
imitating the right hand directly an octave lower.
Originally, it was the cello that entered in canon.
Brahms must have felt it did not project well enough.
The right hand begins the third segment, which consists of
downward leaping octaves on F-sharp, as the left hand
completes the canon. Against the octaves, the left hand
and cello add thematic harmonies, slightly redistributed from
the original version.
0:07 [m. 13]--The violin makes its first entry on the
original line, now in F-sharp minor instead of B minor.
It is harmonized directly by the cello while the piano
rests. Everything remains quiet and light. The
violin then repeats its line, but now the piano enters in
canon, harmonized in the left hand. The cello harmonies
are changed, moving to a repeated “pedal point” note to
accommodate the piano’s canon. In the third segment, the
piano does not quite finish its canon, but moves to upward
leaping octaves on C-sharp, which the strings punctuate with
upbeat-downbeat figures in harmony.
0:14 [m. 25]--The first part closes with a transitional
flourish. The strings move to and hold the “dominant”
chord in B minor, pivoting back there, while the piano plays
two cascading arpeggios, each one moving from the right hand
to the left over two measures. The second begins and
ends lower than the first, but the entire arpeggio sequence
outlines a colorful “diminished seventh” chord.
0:16 [m. 29a]--The four-measure first ending emerges
out of the cascading arpeggios and simply consists of the
piano left hand gradually zigzagging upward in upbeat-downbeat
figures leading into the repeat.
0:19 [m. 1]--Part 1 repeated. First twelve-bar
unit begins with cello statement, as at the beginning.
0:21 [m. 5]--Piano response with canon, then downward
leaping octaves, as at 0:02.
0:26 [m. 13]--Second twelve-bar unit. Violin with
cello harmony, repetition with piano canon, and upward leaping
octaves, as at 0:07.
0:33 [m. 25]--Transitional flourish with cascading
arpeggios, as at 0:14.
0:35 [m. 29b]--Second ending. After everything
has been completely quiet, there is a loud outburst. The
strings move to a bright G-major chord, and the piano plays a
continuous four-bar descending arpeggio on that chord,
articulating each measure with a small upward leap. The
first three measures are notated in seven-note groups,
creating a sense of asymmetry. The piano lands on a low
G, after which the cello, then the violin, play the familiar
upbeat from the theme and hold the downbeat, each confirming G
0:40 [m. 37]--Part 2. The long central section is
organized in units of eight bars instead of twelve, still
subdivided into four-bar segments and following the same
rhythmic pattern as before. As the strings hold their
G-major chord, the piano plays the theme, which now has a
noble character instead of an ominous and skittish one.
The left hand adds reiterations of the upbeat figure.
The second segment is a new consequent or “answer” to the
first one. This “answer” was not heard in the
repetitions and canons of Part 1.
0:44 [m. 45]--The next unit moves to E minor
(“relative” to G major). In full harmony, high in the
right hand, the piano plays the theme. The cello holds a
drone fifth while the left hand holds an octave E. The
violin adds upbeat figures and a cadential gesture derived
from the leaping octaves. As with the G-major statement,
the second four-measure segment is a consequent or “answer” to
0:49 [m. 53]--The next unit is similar to the previous
one, but each “segment” is in a different key. The new
addition is the violin using its upbeat figures to shoot
upward from the “dominant” note to the “tonic” note in each
key. The left hand and the cello now reiterate their
harmonies, again with upbeat-downbeat motion. The first
segment is in C major, the second (the consequent or “answer”)
a step higher, in D minor.
0:54 [m. 61]--This unit adds downward-rushing figures
in piano octaves. These figures turn, then plunge
downward over each four-measure segment. The violin
takes the lead on the thematic material, reaching very high,
with the cello playing the upbeat figures and leaping
octaves. The first four-bar segment is in another new
key, C-sharp minor, while the second one moves toward the home
key of B, but this is apparently B major, not minor, as it was
in Part 1. In this “answering” segment, the violin
continues upward instead of making the typical downward motion
at the end. The high violin adds to the excitement.
0:59 [m. 69]--The climax comes with a full eight-bar
unit in B major. It follows the statement and answer
pattern, but remains in the same key, as did the first two
units of Part 2. The violin doubles the top note of the
piano’s high right-hand chords. The cello and left hand
play powerful and active chords.
1:04 [m. 77]--The downward-rushing piano octave figures
from 0:54 [m. 61] return with their typical turning
motions. B major has yielded to B minor, but the harmony
highly emphasizes the “dominant” F-sharp. The strings
play one typical four-bar segment against the octaves, but
then they hold the “dominant” chord for the next four measures
as the piano figures make a second tumble down to the low
1:09 [m. 85]--The rhythmic pattern of the units is now
somewhat disrupted. The strings, in thirds, isolate the
descending motion of the theme against a held piano
F-sharp. The piano bass then slides up to G preceding a
single downward-rushing figure in the right hand, whereupon
the strings state their isolated descending motion a half-step
higher against the held piano G. Once again, the piano
slides up, now to A-flat, followed by another of the
downward-rushing figures a half-step higher. This one
rapidly quiets down.
1:13 [m. 93]--The strings quiet down, but now become
more active and continuous with their descending motion.
They begin a half-step higher, as expected, but they next
sequence the pattern up a third, then a fifth without any
breaks between them, continuously and quickly building.
The piano, meanwhile, has moved up to A, then A-sharp, but
without the downward-rushing figures between them. These
half-step motions consistently happen on the last beat of the
measure, held over across the bar line. The strings
repeat their last pattern of the sequence, but now the piano
right hand doubles their harmony as the fuller volume is again
achieved. With the A-sharp in the bass, the home key of
B minor is again asserted.
1:18 [m. 101]--The instruments suddenly quiet
down. Mysteriously, the violin starts to sing a new
melody against isolated thematic figures in the piano right
hand and ominous leaps in the cello and piano bass. This
melody spins itself over twelve bars, with three thematic
fragments in the right hand. It seems as if it will be
extended another four bars to create a “double unit” of
sixteen bars, but the last four notes of the melody are broken
by full measure rests, extending the last segment to eight
bars and the total statement of the melody to twenty.
The piano adds two shorter fragments that punctuate the
beginning and the halfway point of this rest-extended
segment. The mysterious melody’s identity will be
1:30 [m. 121]--Part 3. This final portion is a
variation of Part 1, moving again to twelve-bar units.
The cello states its familiar thematic opening, now punctuated
by short piano chords. The piano response follows, again
with the left hand trailing in canon, but a new element is now
added, a faster, passionate variant of the mysterious melody
in the violin just introduced. The closure of the violin
melody, a long-held note over three measures followed by a
downward resolution, happens over the original third segment
with the downward leaping octaves.
1:38 [m. 133]--The statement in F-sharp minor led by
the violin follows as expected, now with an added bass line in
the piano. But in the second segment, the piano not only
plays in canon as expected (the canon now played in the left
hand with added harmony), but also adds the new and passionate
melody just played by the violin, presenting it in right hand
octaves. Like the violin, the piano concludes the new
melody with a long three measure note and a resolution (the
latter coming a beat earlier than the violin had). The
upward leaping octaves against the upbeat-downbeat string
figures are now entirely in left-hand octaves.
1:45 [m. 145]--The pattern now deviates from Part 1,
and elements from Part 2 are introduced. The violin
plays a statement and answer in eight bars, like the units in
Part 2, and the piano plays its now familiar downward-rushing
figures in the right hand, slightly transformed in
shape. The left hand, then the cello add brief harmonic
counterpoint to the violin line.
1:50 [m. 153]--The piano transforms the downward
rushing figures into upbeat-downbeat gestures characterized by
their opening turns. These are played continuously,
moving down, as the violin isolates the initial upbeat from
the theme, gradually moving upward. The cello punctuates
this with its own upbeat figures, but these are rhythmically
displaced onto the second beat of the bar. After four
bars of this pattern, the piano extends it two more bars by
again reaching upward, breaking into an ecstatic upward reach.
1:54 [m. 159]--The strings drop out, and the piano
breaks into cascading arpeggios similar to those at 0:14 and
0:33 [m. 25]. Like those arpeggios, these outline a
colorful “diminished seventh” chord, but there are eight notes
to each measure (clashing with the triple-time rhythm) instead
of six, increased even from the seven-note groups heard in the
second ending at 0:35 [m. 29b]. There are four of these
eight-note arpeggios, each one an octave lower than the last
and beginning with its last four notes. The left hand
punctuates them with the upbeat figure from the theme.
After the last arpeggio lands on F-sharp, the strings enter on
that note, repeating it over two measures and slowing down in
anticipation of the Trio section.
TRIO (Meno allegro, B major)
1:59 [m. 165]--Part 1. The melody is broad and
tuneful, with a characteristic sway between longer notes on
downbeats (some held over bar lines) and shorter ones off the
downbeats. It is played in the piano’s tenor register in
two-note harmonies, with the left hand playing distinctive
upbeat figures in the low bass. After two measures,
these bass upbeat figures add a characteristic repeated
note. Closer inspection reveals that the warm B-major
melody was anticipated by the violin’s mysterious entry at
1:18 [m. 101] and the “passionate” variant introduced as a
counterpoint to Part 3 at 1:30 [m. 121]. Against this
first statement in two phrases, the violin and cello simply
hold a long F-sharp. At the end, after shorter melody
figures at the cadence, they play an upward scale to lead into
the second statement.
2:15 [m. 181]--Part 1, varied repetition. The
theme is now played by the strings, who break from their
long-held unison note. They play it in pleasing
harmonies of sixths and tenths. Against it, the piano
isolates the upbeat figures previously played in the bass
(including the characteristic repeated notes), now doubling
them in octaves between the hands. These figures briefly
add harmonies at the cadence, then the repeated-note gesture
is used to lead into Part 2.
2:32 [m. 197]--Part 2. It begins with a
contrasting period in which the violin doubles the piano’s
melodic line. The cello doubles the upbeat figures in
the piano bass. In a change from the original version,
the cello doubling is plucked, not bowed, and the piano’s
repeated notes are simply doubled by a single plucked cello
note. The first phrase makes a detour toward E
major. The second phrase soars upward rapturously, then
settles back down in preparation for the return to the main
melodic phrase. This preparation is extended by two bars
from the expected pattern, with the cello breaking to take up
2:52 [m. 215]--The return of the main melody has the
cello doubling the now higher piano with the violin alone
holding the long F-sharp. The first phrase proceeds as
expected. The second, however, builds upward, creating
another contrast and even more anticipation for the climactic
final statement. In this upward buildup, the last part
of the first phrase is isolated and used for an ascending
sequence. The held violin notes move up
accordingly. After two rising sequences, the melodic
line pauses as the bass figures with their repeated notes
continue. At the same time, the violin erupts into
leaping octaves, down and back up, also using the repeated
notes. This continues in another two-bar extension,
ratcheting up the tension.
3:11 [m. 233]--The climax is reached with the grandest
statement of the Trio theme, presented in full. The
piano is now two octaves higher than its original
presentation, its harmonies fuller. The cello doubles
the melody, not the repeated-note bass as in the
original. What really makes the statement stand out,
however, is the violin, which plays in shimmering high tremolo
octaves that only gradually move away from and back to the
note F-sharp. When the statement reaches its own high
point, the upbeat figures continuously shoot upward, creating
a slight cross rhythm, with the repeated-note figure appearing
on one downbeat. The first ending to Part 2 (mm.
247a-248a) zigzags downward in piano and violin to lead into
3:27 [m. 197]--Part 2 repeated. Contrasting
period with two-bar extension, as at 2:32.
3:47 [m. 215]--Return of main melody, then new buildup
and extension with leaping violin, as at 2:52.
4:06 [m. 233]--Climax with grand statement, as at
3:11. The first measure of the second ending (m. 247b)
comes to a full stop, in contrast to the immediate “lead-in”
from the first ending.
4:21 [m. 248b]--Re-transition to Scherzo reprise.
The cadence is repeated by the piano. It is then echoed
by the strings in strongly plucked chords. The strings
then hold a low B as the piano isolates the cadence gesture in
low bass octaves, moving to minor and playing it twice in
descending sequence, quickly diminishing in volume. It
becomes suspended on the “dominant” note F-sharp, punctuated
by plucked strings. This sets up the return of the
scherzo with the following upbeat.
SCHERZO REPRISE (Tempo I)
4:35 [m. 261]-- Part 1. First twelve-bar unit
begins with cello statement, as at the beginning and 0:19.
4:37 [m. 265]-- Piano response with canon, then
downward leaping octaves, as at 0:02 and 0:21 [m. 5].
4:42 [m. 273]-- Second twelve-bar unit. Violin
with cello harmony, repetition with piano canon, and upward
leaping octaves, as at 0:07 and 0:26 [m. 13].
4:49 [m. 285]-- Transitional flourish with cascading
arpeggios, as at 0:14 and 0:33 [m. 25].
4:51 [m. 289]--Loud outburst in G major with arpeggio
in seven-note groups, then thematic upbeats from the strings,
as at 0:35 [m. 29b].
4:56 [m. 297]--Part 2. First eight-bar
unit. Noble piano statement in G major, as at 0:40 [m.
5:00 [m. 305]--Statement in E minor with cello drone
fifth and violin decorations, as at 0:44 [m. 45].
5:05 [m. 313]--Statement in C major and D minor with
upward-shooting violin figures, as at 0:49 [m. 53].
5:10 [m. 321]--Statement led by violin beginning in
C-sharp minor and moving toward B major, with downward-rushing
piano octaves, as at 0:54 [m. 61].
5:15 [m. 329]--Climactic statement in B major, as at
0:59 [m. 69].
5:20 [m. 337]--Downward-rushing piano octaves plunge to
low bass as strings move to a held “dominant” chord, as at
1:04 [m. 77].
5:24 [m. 345]--Isolation and sequential statements of
thematic descending motion in strings and downward-rushing
piano figures, as at 1:09 [m. 85].
5:29 [m. 353]--Active and continuous motion with
buildup in volume and rise in pitch, culminating in full
assertion of B minor, as at 1:13 [m. 93].
5:34 [m. 361]--Emergence of new melody in violin, now
known to be an embryonic version of the Trio theme, as at 1:18
5:46 [m. 381]--Part 3. Cello opening with piano
response and canon, now with added passionate “Trio” melody in
violin, as at 1:30 [m. 121].
5:53 [m. 393]--Statement led by violin with passionate
melody in piano, as at 1:38 [m. 133].
6:01 [m. 405]--Violin statement and answer in eight
bars with rushing piano figures, as at 1:45 [m. 145].
6:05 [m. 413]--Continuous upbeat-downbeat gestures in
piano with isolated upbeat figures in violin and cello, then
ecstatic upward extension, as at 1:50 [m. 153].
6:09 [m. 419]--Cascading eight-note arpeggios on
“diminished seventh” harmony with upbeat figures in left hand,
as at 1:54 [m. 159], but they are reduced from four to three,
cut off by the beginning of the coda.
6:11 [m. 423]--The only major revision to this movement
is the complete re-composition of the ending. The new
coda begins like the old one, with the cello using the rhythm
of the scherzo theme to reach upward, closing off with a
descending octave, the piano moving to colorful descending
full-measure chords. The cello then begins the pattern
an octave higher, continuing for two measures before passing
to the violin (instead of one measure as in the original
version). When the violin does take over, it does not
continue the pattern, but shoots upward on an arpeggio that is
passed to the cello and back to the violin. The arpeggio
is a “dominant seventh” chord on A, which signifies the
“relative” key of D major. With the violin entry, the
piano chords, now at a higher level, are sustained for two and
then four measures.
6:18 [m. 434]--The strings drop out after their
arpeggios, and the piano takes over. A high octave E
over the end of the sustained chord leads to a sweeping
downward arpeggio on the “dominant” harmony in D major.
This arpeggio resembles those used at important structural
points in the scherzo. A low bass A-sharp at the very
bottom of the keyboard is used to launch an upward arpeggio to
mirror the downward one. This upward arpeggio is on a
colorfully dissonant “diminished seventh” chord, which can
easily be used to pivot back to B. It sweeps up in both
hands, harmonized in sixths before a very brief pause.
6:25 [m. 445]--In B major, not B minor, the cello uses
the scherzo theme’s distinctive upbeat to lead to a chord in
the other two instruments confirming the major-key
transformation. The piano follows this with a skittish
upward line, leaping up between B and the “dominant” note
F-sharp over three octaves, repeating each note in a bit of
virtuosity. The same sequence, the cello lead-in to the
chord and the skittish upward piano line, is repeated with
everything moved an octave higher.
6:29 [m. 453]--The final B-major harmony is quiet, and
it is reiterated in several creative ways. The cello
holds an open fifth as the violin plays an off-beat third,
then repeats it an octave higher. Meanwhile, the piano
steadily moves its own B-major chord down one octave, then
another. The strings make their final entry on an octave
F before the piano bass moves down to a low octave B.
This quiet B-major chord with the strings on an octave F is
the same one that ended the original coda. It provides a
perfect transition to the third movement. The new coda
arrives at this same point without the completely drained
energy of the original ending.
6:43--END OF MOVEMENT [460 mm.]
Movement: Adagio (Ternary form [ABA’]). B MAJOR, 4/4
0:00 [m. 1]--The main theme is hushed, understated, and
still. The piano presents the opening in chorale-like
descending chords marked by a long-short rhythm in the
middle. As the piano completes its statement, the
strings enter with an answer. It is slightly more
active, with moving notes in the violin harmonized by the
cello. The answering phrase ends with its own
“questioning” gesture, a light grace note in the violin.
0:27 [m. 7]--The piano begins its phrase again,
starting in the same way, but veering toward the “relative”
G-sharp minor at the end. The string answer confirms the
minor-key detour. The cello is more active this time,
and the phrase again ends with a light grace note in the
0:55 [m. 13]--The piano begins its third statement,
this time moving from G-sharp minor back to B major., now with
a more decisive conclusion. This time the string answer
is more decisive, with downward leaps and another harmonic
turn, this time to E major. The grace note is omitted,
as is the measure-long chord.
1:19 [m. 18]--Now the piano and strings engage in
shorter exchanges beginning in E major. The piano plays
a simple one-measure descent, and the strings respond with a
short rising line. The piano repeats its short descent,
but the strings now extend their response, which moves the
harmony back to B major. It seems as if the strings will
complete their arrival, but they are interrupted by another
piano entrance. This extended string response is
slightly more sophisticated in the revision, with an added
suspension and delayed resolution in the cello and double
stops in the violin.
1:50 [m. 25]--Now the piano and strings finally come
together. The first piano entry dovetails with the
conclusion of the strings’ previous extended phrase. The
strings then enter against the piano’s mildly chromatic
continuation for one measure, the violin moving down and the
cello moving up. The piano then leads for another
measure, reaching higher. Brahms added a rising cello
harmony here in the revision. The strings again respond,
with the violin an octave lower and the cello a third lower.
2:10 [m. 29]--All three instruments now play together
in longer notes, moving toward an extremely satisfying final
cadence. This cadence is slightly delayed, with the
anticipatory “dominant” chord being held over the bar line in
the right hand and the strings (the left hand does move on the
downbeat) and the arrival finally coming midway through the
measure (a beat earlier in the revision). Subtle changes
in the revision include fuller piano chords and a new, lower
violin line before the cadence. There is hardly time to
linger on this cadence. It has closed off an extremely
still, yet highly intense opening section, and its
much-awaited resolution barely happens before the piano
launches directly into the contrasting B section.
B Section (G-sharp minor)
2:30 [m. 33]--The B section is entirely new
(and longer) in the revised version. Halfway through the
measure with the delayed cadence (m. 32), the piano bass
begins a descent to G-sharp and the right hand enters in
syncopation, anticipating the cello melody. The theme is
presented in full by the cello, with the violin resting for
more than 12 measures. It is expressive and melancholy,
spinning itself out with rocking motion. The piano bass
initially remains anchored to G-sharp while the right hand
plays off-beat harmonies. In the second and third
measures, these move to upbeat-downbeat harmonies, and the
left hand finally moves in the third measure of the
phrase. The fourth measure of the phrase, with a
descending cello motion shadowed in the piano bass, is
repeated as a more conclusive echo, creating a five-measure
2:56 [m. 38]--The second phrase begins like the first,
but in its third measure the cello reaches higher and becomes
more passionate and intense, with building volume. This
buildup makes a detour to E major and extends the phrase by a
measure. The descending line that closes it is now in
the fifth measure, but it diverts from a full cadence in
G-sharp minor. As in the first phrase, this gesture is
repeated as an echo with a more conclusive arrival, now an
octave lower, creating a six-bar unit
3:26 [m. 44]--The piano begins a series of disorienting
arpeggios in contrary motion between the hands, beginning on
the upbeat and leaning into the next downbeat or strong
beat. They underlie a melodic line in long-short rhythm
with rising and falling motion. After two measures of
these unsettling arpeggios and the long-short melody, which
shift the key to D-sharp minor, the strings enter with a brief
upbeat echo of the rising gesture that began the long-short
melody, the violin making its first appearance since the A
3:39 [m. 46]--The piano begins another two measures of
the contrary-motion arpeggios and long-short melody without
the initial upbeat-downbeat motion. This time they move
to E major, and again the strings enter with an upbeat echo at
the end. The piano now takes up this short echoing
gesture in alternation with the strings. There is one
more such exchange of these short figures with the piano
following the strings.
3:57 [m. 50]--In a buildup, the strings lead the piano
in three more short exchanges like the two previous ones,
moving back to G-sharp minor. After the third exchange,
the violin has reached a high point in volume and pitch, and
with the cello, it leads a longer descent. Meanwhile,
the piano plays one more of the short contrary-motion
gestures, this time serving as an upbeat to the return of the
main B section theme, now presented by the violin,
which also seamlessly merges into the upbeat to the theme.
4:09 [m. 52]--With the downbeat, the violin fully
emerges into the theme, now fuller and richer than the initial
cello presentation. The cello provides harmonies along
with the piano. For the first measure, the
contrary-motion arpeggios continue in the piano, but these
quickly change to a more regular alternating motion between
upper harmonies and lower notes in the right hand over a solid
bass. At first it seems as if the original five-bar unit
will be retained, with the cello taking over the “echo” from
the violin, but the cello extends the “echo” downward two
times, leading to a full cadence in G-sharp minor, supported
by bell-like notes in the piano bass and the violin in its
4:36 [m. 58]--The violin briefly drops out, and the
cello establishes a “pedal point” on a low G-sharp,
continuously repeating the note. The piano again begins
the contrary-motion arpeggios and long-short melody over the
throbbing cello G-sharps, beginning with an upbeat-downbeat
motion. The first two arpeggios extend the arrival note
by a beat, obscuring the meter even as the cello pulses.
They then surge upward, holding a chord over a bar line, and
move back down, creating a broad arch over two measures.
4:52 [m. 61]--The violin enters again, joining the
piano on another broad arch that builds in volume. The
cello continues its pedal point for one measure, then abandons
it to harmonize the violin on its descent. The piano
doubles the violin on the ascent of the arch, but the violin
descends earlier, and the piano reaches higher. When the
violin, with cello harmony, reaches the end of its arch, the
harmony of E major is used. The piano, whose arrival is
three beats later, stays firmly on G-sharp minor. The
volume now recedes.
5:03 [m. 63]--The strings lead the piano in two
exchanges of the shorter gestures. The strings move
inward, the piano outward. The strings emphasize E
major, the piano G-sharp minor. The second piano gesture
is an octave lower, and it merges into a simple exchange of
chords, now with the strings following the piano, each still
retaining their associated harmonies. These lead into
the reprise of the A section. The use of E major
harmony here is interesting since that was the key of the B
section in the original version. Perhaps Brahms refers
to the key at this point of re-transition as a nod to his
earlier Schubert-based theme.
5:19 [m. 66]--As the strings play their last E-major
chord to close the B section, the piano begins the
main theme of the A section, resolving the E
major/G-sharp minor ambiguity at the end of the middle section
with a direct and unmediated motion back to B major. The
first chorale-like chords are placed slightly higher, their
pitches and harmonies altered to facilitate the somewhat
abrupt transition back to B. A new “leaning” chord is
added on the downbeat of the second measure. By the
third measure, the harmonies have come close to the original
orientation. The A’ section is mostly unchanged
from the original version.
5:33 [m. 69]--With the arrival in the fourth measure,
the piano does not rest for the string answer, but begins a
delicate, high decorative line with six-note groups in triplet
(or sextuplet) rhythm. The strings enter as expected and
play their original answer from the opening without
alteration, including the violin grace note. The piano’s
embellishment is entirely in the right hand. It begins
by meandering up and down, gradually extending outward, then
emerging into downward arching figures before reaching even
higher and circling back down against the held string chord
with the grace note.
5:45 [m. 72]--While this phrase corresponds to 0:27 [m.
7], there are significant and artful changes. First, the
piano adds a descending inner voice in eighth notes under its
first chord. Then, in the second measure, there is a
subtle, but effective harmonic diversion that causes the music
to move not to the expected “relative” G-sharp minor, but to
the totally unrelated B-flat minor, a half-step below the main
key. When the strings enter with their response, it is
in that key. Again, the piano adds right-hand
embellishments in triplet rhythm. From the second
measure, these have a distinct upward-striving reach.
6:11 [m. 78]--Corresponding to 0:55 [m. 13], the piano
now must move from B-flat minor back to B major, which it
does, again including the descending inner voice in eighth
notes under the first chord. The harmonic shift happens
with an extra “leaning” chord in the second measure (as heard
in the first phrase of this section). B major has fully
returned with the third measure, and the string answer is as
it was in the corresponding passage. The piano, of
course, again adds its triplet decoration in the right hand,
but this time there is a large downward reach at the same time
the violin is leaping down.
6:35 [m. 83]--This passage very closely matches that at
1:19 [m. 18], in both the piano and strings, with the major
exception that the triplet decorations continue throughout the
exchanges. The decorations are placed in an inner voice
when the piano is playing its chords, and they continue under
the string responses. Under the second, more extended
string response, not only do the decorative figures continue,
but a bass note on F-sharp is added during the last two
original measures as the right hand reaches up
rapturously. In contrast to the A section (and
the original version of A’) Brahms adds an extra
measure here. The original last measure is also altered,
with a higher-reaching cello and syncopated chromatic motion
in the decorative piano line. In the extra measure, the
strings hold as the piano slows to a descent in straight
7:08 [m. 91]--With the excision of the entire lengthy,
disruptive “Allegro” section from the original version, the
added measure merges seamlessly into the concluding passage as
heard starting at 1:50 [m. 25]. The extra measure serves
to transition out of the piano decorations, which are not
heard in this conclusion, and rather than serving as a coda as
it did in the original, this ending is simply a part of the
7:27 [m. 95]--The longer chords and cadence from 2:10
[m. 29] bring the movement to a close. That cadence had
been cut off by the immediate beginning of the B
section, but here Brahms makes things more conclusive by
repeating the chord after the delayed resolution, adding
another measure with a fermata. He also changes
the last string note from a doubling of the piano’s B to a
high, suspended F-sharp.
8:02--END OF MOVEMENT [99 mm.]
Movement: Finale – Allegro (Varied Sonata-Allegro form with
development and recapitulation combined). B MINOR, 3/4 time.
0:00 [m. 1]-- Theme 1. The cello presents the
obsessively driven main theme with its distinctive dotted
(long-short) rhythm that punctuates the end of every other
bar. The piano accompanies with sweeping arpeggios in
triplets. In each bar, one left-hand triplet is followed
by two in the right. After two statements of a
four-measure unit featuring the dotted rhythm, the cello soars
up and down in two arpeggios, each followed by a cadence
gesture. The second of these slows greatly to a
suspended arrival on the “dominant” harmony. Despite the
agitation, the theme is light and secretive.
0:24 [m. 18]-- The theme is now stated by the violin,
the cello moving to plucked punctuations. The initial
four-measure units with the dotted rhythm are played as
expected, as is the first arpeggio. But here Brahms
inserts a new element. The violin plays the arpeggio,
but without its cadence gesture. It is immediately
imitated by the cello, reaching slightly higher. Only
then does the violin play the original second arpeggio with
its cadence gesture and slowing to the “dominant”
harmony. Even this is modified slightly, with an
approach to the cadence in faster notes and directional
changes in the piano arpeggios. The cello doubles the
violin in the approach to the cadence, which now omits a held
0:49 [m. 38]-- The new imitation between violin and
cello is played again, with the key shifted to G-sharp
minor. The imitation is followed by the arpeggio with
the cadence gesture in the form just heard, still in the
violin, with the cadence doubled by the cello. The
slowing is now to an arrival on G-sharp. The piano
arpeggios continue almost obsessively and persistently.
There is one slight change here from the original, with two
held violin notes removed over the first cello arpeggio.
1:00 [m. 46]-- The cadence gesture itself is now
isolated and decorated in the violin, with the cello adding
two closing notes. It is stated twice, with the piano
arpeggios now including descents in the right hand.
These arpeggios are changed slightly from the original, with a
more active left hand. The volume builds, and a third
statement begins. This expands, with the violin playing
two downward leaps. Here the revision deviates and
follows its own path for the rest of the movement.
Instead of a downward plunge, the high point, reached by an
upward piano arpeggio and violin leap, leads directly into the
transition. Like the original version, this passage has
served to move the music back to B minor.
1:09 [m. 54]--Transition. Brahms reduces the
original 50 measures to 10, moving much more directly to his
new second theme. Here, it is simply a continuation and
intensification of the Theme 1 material. The piano plays
right hand chords with the main Theme 1 dotted rhythm while
the left hand and the violin continue the persistent arpeggios
in triplet rhythm, the cello providing bass notes. After
two measures, the dotted rhythm is converted into a
beat-obscuring syncopation. Then the regular arpeggios
and the main rhythm continue, this time for three measures
before the syncopations interrupt again. These are in
turn cut off by a huge cadence in the piano leading to
“relative” major key, D major. The strings complete this
cadence with three rising notes in harmony leading into Theme
1:22 [m. 64]--Theme 2 (D major). The new second
theme is forceful and direct, presented by the right hand of
the piano in octaves, punctuated by a persistent repeated low
octave D in the bass. These bass punctuations occur on
the offbeat, and in tandem with double stops on the
cello. The violin enters to provide a closing commentary
like the theme’s “lead-in” at the end of the first
phrase. The melody itself bears a striking similarity to
“The Star-Spangled Banner,” at least in its first
phrase. The second phrase moves harmonically toward A,
and the piano bass moves off the repeated D, still playing on
1:32 [m. 72]--The third phrase has two shorter units
that veer upward toward E minor and F-sharp minor, but the
fourth phrase brings things back home to D major with the
right hand melody in octaves reaching quite high. The
piano bass, still on the offbeat, is slightly more active in
the third phrase and much more active in the fourth. The cello
and violin continue largely as before, with off-beat
double-stops in the cello and “lead-in” commentaries in the
violin, but the violin joins the off-beat figures in the
1:43 [m. 80]--The third and fourth phrases are repeated
with the strings taking the lead. They begin in octaves,
but the cello deviates with a small counterpoint after each
small unit in the third phrase. The cello adds a fully
new harmonic counterpoint in the fourth phrase. The
piano relegates its right hand to the off-beat chords and
“lead-in” figures, inverting the direction of the latter from
the violin’s rising gestures. The right hand helps with
the cadence at the end of the fourth phrase, which leads
directly into the new closing material.
1:52 [m. 87]--Closing section. It follows the
cadence directly, beginning on the second beat. The
violin plays a broad descending line, harmonized by the
cello. The piano plays broken octaves in both hands,
largely in contrary motion. These introduce the
chromatic note B-flat, along with a rising chromatic line in
the left hand. The end of the descending line is marked
by the now-familiar ascending “lead-in” gestures in the
piano. These are continued and extended by the strings
as the piano plays cadence-like gestures with a long-short
2:06 [m. 97]--The broad descending line is now played
the by the piano. The strings play an arpeggio at the
beginning, including the “chromatic” B-flat, but drop out
after two measures, leaving the piano to complete its line
alone. At the end, the piano introduces two colorful,
unstable “diminished seventh” chords, against which the
violin, then the cello, play the “lead-in” figures at new
levels. The piano continues to play two more “diminished
seventh” chords, both sustained and repeated, while the violin
first plays an arpeggio, then a series of “lead-in”
figures. All of this diminishes greatly in volume,
leaving things suspended and expectant for the return of Theme
1 in B minor.
2:21 [m. 108]--Theme 1. The theme is given a new
three-bar “introduction in which the cello plays a simple
cadence formula in long notes against C-major and B-minor
triplet-rhythm arpeggios in the piano. The theme itself
is now played by the piano in right hand octaves. The
arpeggio accompaniment is passed from rising lines in the
piano left hand to falling lines in the strings. These
falling lines begin in the violin and pass to the cello.
This pattern continues for the two statements of the
four-measure dotted-rhythm unit.
2:34 [m. 119]--The piano right hand continues with the
first arpeggio and cadence gesture. Here, the left-hand
arpeggios are followed on the upbeats by the strings in
contrary motion. The piano passes the melody to the
cello for the second arpeggio and cadence gesture. The
cello’s cadence gesture is lengthened by a measure by
stretching the notes out and crossing the bar line. The
piano plays arpeggios and upbeat descents throughout the cello
statement. When the cello reaches the last notes, the
piano plays a highly chromatic rising sequence of
arpeggios. Everything is hushed and light throughout.
2:48 [m. 129]--It seems as if the theme will continue
with the statement corresponding to 0:24 [m. 18], and for
eight measures it does. The strings play the two
four-bar dotted rhythm units in unison, the piano entering
after one beat with its arpeggio sequences. These are
now unusually chromatic and dissonant, and they make an octave
leap in the middle. Brahms marks all the instruments sotto
voce. After these eight measures, the music
deviates from the initial presentation and becomes
developmental, but enough of Theme 1 has been stated for this
to qualify as a full recapitulation. Another full
statement does not occur.
2:57 [m. 137]--The “development section” begins
here. The strings state the four-bar unit a step lower,
splitting it with the cello following the violin. The
piano continues its highly dissonant arpeggios with the leaps
in the middle. Throughout these arpeggios, the left hand
contributes harmonies that emphasize the dissonances.
The violin and cello then move the unit down another step,
again splitting it between them. They each leave out the
first downbeat note. They also lengthen the dotted
rhythm, playing it on the last two beats instead of just the
last beat. The piano arpeggios move here from triplet
rhythm to “straight” rhythm, but they are still grouped in
three notes, creating a strong cross-meter.
3:08 [m. 145]--Back in octaves, the strings play the
familiar cadence gesture. Having previously lengthened
it to two measures, they now stretch it out to four, with the
middle note held for two full bars. The piano
accompanies with slow arpeggio figures in quarter notes.
The music remains in B minor, and a cadence there is
3:13 [m. 149]--The B-minor cadence does arrive, but it
is not a point of rest. The violin immediately plays the
familiar dotted rhythm in double-stop octaves against a piano
arpeggio on an unstable “diminished seventh” harmony.
The cello joins the rhythm in the second measure a sixth below
the violin. There is a brief and powerful crescendo,
and the “diminished seventh” harmony is used as a pivot to
G-sharp minor, familiar as the “relative” key to B
major. Against held string notes, the piano now plays
the dotted-rhythm gesture in forceful and powerful chords, the
left hand still playing arpeggios. This leads to an
extremely strong arrival and cadence in G-sharp minor, and the
key signature changes to the five sharps of that key.
3:18 [m. 153]--In G-sharp minor, the strings play a new
and passionate idea in octaves. It is decorated with
grace notes and moves back and forth before holding a note
over a bar line. The strings move upward and play longer
notes, introducing more syncopation. The piano
accompanies all of this with strong and highly syncopated
chords. All instruments then play a new turning gesture,
seeming to lead to another cadence.
3:28 [m. 161]--In a parallel passage to 3:13 [m. 149],
the cadence is immediately averted, the violin plays the
dotted rhythm in octaves, and the cello joins. The piano
plays a “diminished seventh” arpeggio, and a powerful crescendo
precedes the dotted-rhythm gesture in strong chords. The
harmony appears to move toward F-sharp minor, but this time
there is no strong arrival.
3:33 [m. 165]--Instead of the “passionate idea,” the
expected cadence leads into a second sequence in a row (third
total) of the dotted rhythm, “diminished seventh” arpeggio,
and crescendo into strong chords. This time, the cello
takes the lead and the violin follows. The strong chords
themselves are extended, adding a full second statement.
After dodging apparent arrivals on B and E, Brahms finally
provides another strong cadence leading into the “passionate
idea,” this time in C-sharp minor.
3:39 [m. 171]--The “passionate” idea begins in C-sharp
minor. This time the piano accompaniment is more active,
adding echoes to the rhythm in the strings. It is
extended by two measures with an additional upward motion, and
when the “turning gesture” arrives, it is no longer in C-sharp
minor. At first, it seems as if it will be in D-sharp
minor, a step higher, but then the harmony of the “turning
gesture” itself is altered, and a motion to the home major
key, whose key signature is still in force, seems imminent.
3:53 [m. 181]--The expected B-major arrival is thwarted
by yet another triplet arpeggio on a “diminished seventh”
under long string notes. This time, the intensity is
maintained. The violin plays a high descent, and a
forceful upward arpeggio in the piano seems to suggest that
there will still be an arrival on B from its “dominant” of
F-sharp, but minor instead of major. The continuation of
the violin melody and a change in the piano arpeggio, however,
move the harmony in the opposite direction, back toward
C-sharp, now inflected to major.
4:00 [m. 187]--The strong chords on the dotted rhythm
begin again on C-sharp, but now they take on the character of
the original transition passage from 1:09 [m. 54]. The
beat-obscuring syncopations from that passage appear after two
measures. These are cut off by a triplet-rhythm piano
arpeggio in contrary motion. The harmony again
gravitates inevitably toward the home key of B minor/major.
4:04 [m. 191]--The high descent in the violin is played
again against a solid piano arpeggio in B major and then
minor. At first, the motion seems to be toward E minor,
but this is diverted to F-sharp. Now that key will
finally serve definitively as the preparation for a full
arrival back on B major and minor.
4:09 [m. 195]--Again, the dotted-rhythm chords take on
the character of the transition passage, and indeed they now
form a precise parallel to that passage, leading into Theme
2. Like the original transition, there are ten measures
here, but there is a slight alteration. The first
passage of syncopated chords is extended by one measure, while
the arpeggios and dotted-rhythm figures before the second
passage of syncopated chords are reduced by a measure (albeit
with the dotted rhythm itself entering earlier). Here,
the original roles of the right hand and the violin are
reversed, with the violin playing the dotted rhythm.
With the huge cadence now leading to B major, the three
“lead-in” notes are played by the violin above a cello chord.
4:21 [m. 205]-- Theme 2 (B major). With the
restatement of this theme in the home major key, the
“development” ends and the “recapitulation” resumes. The
presentation is largely analogous to 1:22 [m. 64], with some
minor alterations. Most significantly, the repeated
off-beat piano bass punctuations are now fifths instead of
octaves, and the “lead-in” figures are played by both the
violin and cello in harmony. The ending of the second
phrase, as would be expected, moves harmonically toward
4:31 [m. 213]--Analogous to 1:32 [m. 72]. It is a
closely corresponding transposition of the exposition passage,
with the third phrase units moving toward C-sharp minor and
D-sharp minor, then the fourth phrase back to B major.
The only major change is that the violin “lead-in” figures on
the upbeats are now harmonized by both the violin and the
piano left hand. The off-beat string figures are also
slightly more active in the fourth phrase.
4:41 [m. 221]--Analogous to 1:43 [m. 80]. All
parts play a closely corresponding transposition from the
exposition, with the strings providing the melodic
presentation of the third and fourth phrases and the cello
adding its new counterpoint.
4:50 [m. 228]--Closing section, analogous to 1:52 [m.
87]. Again, the exposition is closely followed here,
with the prominent chromatic note now being G-natural.
Only at the end, with the extension using cadence-like
gestures in a long-short rhythm, is there some slight
variance. The second of these cadence gestures is
displaced down an octave, as is the rest of the phrase.
Two lead-in gestures originally played in contrary motion by
the violin and cello are now played as single lines, first by
the violin and then, with the octave displacement, by the
5:04 [m. 238]--The broad descending line is played by
the piano, analogous to 2:06 [m. 97]. The string
arpeggio is played as expected, but with the violin’s
direction reversed at the beginning. The piano continues
its descending line up to the point where the “diminished
seventh” chords had been played.
5:09 [m. 242]--Here, there is a deviation that serves
as a transition into the coda. Instead of the repeated
piano chords with “lead-in” figures, the cello holds a long
note (D-natural) and the piano plays a sweeping arpeggio on
the expected “diminished seventh” harmony, receding in volume
and slowing down. The cello’s D-natural is the note that
distinguishes B major from B minor, and at this point Brahms
changes the key signature accordingly. Brahms commits to
placing his coda and the end of his B-major trio in B minor,
just as he had in the original version. The piano
arpeggio reaches a high point, then zigzags back down.
5:15 [m. 246]--The cello’s held D-natural becomes the
leading note of the familiar Theme 1 rhythm, becoming
animated. The piano breaks into triplet rhythm in a
colorful upward arpeggio that zigzags back down. The
cello plays the Theme 1 rhythm, then fragments it a step lower
against a similar piano arpeggio. Against a third piano
arpeggio that circles around the top before working downward,
the cello plays a meandering line that serves as a
continuation to the Theme 1 rhythm. This line reaches
higher at the end.
5:24 [m. 254]--The violin enters and continues the
cello’s “meandering line,” playing two rising fragments above
two of the now-familiar piano arpeggios that rise and then
zigzag down. Against these two violin fragments, the
cello twice plays a Theme 1 dotted-rhythm fragment, continuing
downward from its previous entries on the rhythm. The
violin then plays the cello’s “original” meandering line
against the “circling” piano arpeggio. Finally, the
upward reach at the end of this line is isolated and twice
passed from cello to violin over the “zigzag” piano
figuration, building in volume.
5:39 [m. 267]--The piano suddenly plays four detached
and forceful chords before echoing and harmonizing the last
notes of the upward reach. The strings then play the
same rising figure, overlapping with the piano. The
detached and forceful chords follow again, with the right hand
an octave higher. As the right hand again leaps down to
extend the chords, the strings join in with them. All
instruments then play long and syncopated notes, leading into
the final stretch of the coda, which is largely derived from
the original version.
5:48 [m. 274]--Brahms has not made much reference to
the original version of this movement since the initial
presentation of Theme 1, but here he refers directly to the
beginning of its coda, the one portion that is shorter than it
is in the revision. There is a rather precise
correspondence, although the scoring and texture is
different. The piano returns to the main portion of
Theme 1, playing it in the right hand against wide-ranging
left-hand triplet arpeggios played at the beginning of the
measure. The strings round each measure off with a
triplet upbeat, moving in contrary motion. In the second
statement of the four-measure unit, the strings join the piano
right hand on the thematic material, taking the melody.
5:57 [m. 282]--The buildup begins in earnest as the
strings play broadly rising arpeggios (instead of leaping
octaves as in the original version) against tumbling piano
arpeggios. After the piano arpeggios turn upward, the
strings play forceful repeated chords (longer and fewer than
in the original version) against a powerful scale figure in
the piano, doubled in octaves between the hands. The
chords fail to reach a cadence, instead making a “deceptive”
harmonic motion, and the piano again plays the same upward
arpeggio, with the powerful scale figure and forceful string
chords then repeated at the same level.
6:07 [m. 292]-- The arrival chord is subtly altered, as
is the next upward arpeggio, causing the third statement of
the string chords and piano scale figure to be shifted up in
pitch and harmony, suggesting C major. After another
upward shift, the correspondence to the original version ends,
as there is no fourth statement of the string chords and piano
scale figure. Instead, the last upward piano and string
arpeggios are repeated with alterations to definitively
confirm the finality of B minor.
6:16 [m. 300]--The violin plunges downward forcefully,
and is joined after one measure by the cello. The piano,
meanwhile, plays four-note turn figures in straight rhythm
that obscure the meter and cross over the bar line.
There are six of these, steadily moving downward. After
the first one, they are doubled in octaves between the
hands. After this moment of metric disruption, new to
the revised version, the triplet rhythm returns with sweeping,
arching arpeggios while the strings return to their broadly
rising arpeggio. This, however, is slurred in two-note
groups, again disrupting the meter.
6:23 [m. 306]--Restoring the metric stability, the
strings again move forcefully downward. The piano joins
them in octaves, but the right hand plays its notes off the
beat behind the left hand and the strings. The strings
then make a huge statement of the familiar suspended arrival
point from Theme 1, with an added reiteration. The piano
supports this statement with long chords and low bass octaves.
6:28 [m. 310]--The final flourish, which is far more
effective than the “faster” syncopated chords in the original
version, uses Theme 1, giving it a new decisiveness. The
piano begins, with the strings playing the rhythm a measure
behind it. The accompanying arpeggios in the left hand
are harmonized, making them very difficult to play. The
first four-bar unit is finally given a complete cadence, at
least in the strings. The piano avoids the cadence to
begin a full repetition of the unit. This time, the
piano confirms the string cadence. To give it even more
finality, the cadence is repeated twice more. A
cascading piano arpeggio in triplets, punctuated by a string
chord, leads to the last sustained B-minor chord in all three
6:45--END OF MOVEMENT [322 mm.]
END OF TRIO
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