Recording: Alfred Brendel, piano; Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Claudio Abbado [Philips 432 975-2]
Published 1882. Dedicated to “his dear friend and teacher” Eduard Marxsen.

“I have composed a tiny, tiny piano concerto with a tiny, tiny wisp of a scherzo.” Thus did Brahms describe what still remains the largest and longest piano concerto in the entire standard repertoire. The ironic comment was made in a letter to his friend Elisabet von Herzogenberg upon finishing the work in the summer of 1881. He also similarly told his friend Theodor Billroth that he would be sending “a few small piano pieces.” His true assessment of its value lies in the dedication to his revered teacher and adviser. The concerto is not only massive, but of legendary difficulty. The piano writing includes widely spaced chords, awkward arpeggios, brutally muscular trills, and other technical challenges. On the other hand, the relationship between piano and orchestra is so egalitarian that for all its unforgiving virtuosity, the piano part is never written as display for its own sake, and indeed, it can often seem almost unrewarding. For pianists with the stamina and skill, however, it is the equivalent of a musical Everest, and it has retained its status as a pinnacle of performing achievement. As far as its unprecedented proportions are concerned, the most obvious reason for this is the inclusion of a fourth movement when for nearly two centuries the standard number for a concerto was three. In the context of the overall form, however, it results in a satisfying balance. The transfer of the scherzo movement type to a solo concerto was a novelty Brahms could not resist. This is no lighthearted dance movement, but one of demonic, elemental force. Placing it in second instead of third position, however, resulted in criticism of the entire work as “top heavy.” Indeed, Brahms employs trumpets and timpani in the first two movements but not in the last two. Not bringing them back for the finale was extremely unusual. The orchestra itself is of the typical size, with four horns and very sparing use of the piccolo. The concerto has connections to both his previous works in the genre. The Violin Concerto, published two years earlier, was originally designed to be in four movements, and he transferred the concept (and apparently some of the musical ideas) to this work. In addition, the structures of the two finale movements show particular parallels, especially the extended coda in a faster tempo with an often implied 6/8 meter. The First Piano Concerto was published 20 years earlier, and despite the huge gap in time and maturity, the style and difficulty of Brahms’s piano writing is similar. Indeed, that early work established the type of “symphonic concerto” continued in these two later concertos, and its enormous first movement also established a precedent. So did the composition of a slow movement in broad 6/4 meter. Yet where that concerto is tragically epic, this one is ultimately of epic serenity. The first movement of the present concerto is a vast sonata form with memorable themes and majestic breadth. The opening, with the dialogue between horn and piano, is among the most distinctive in the concerto literature. The scherzo, which is really a complex scherzo-sonata hybrid, is the only movement not in B-flat, which helps justify its placement in second position. The radiant slow movement famously makes extensive use of a solo cello to present the main theme (similar to the employment of the oboe in the Violin Concerto, but here even more prominently). The piano itself never plays this melody. The finale has come in for some criticism as being too light and playful after what has gone before, but it is deceptively rich in content and virtuosity. Indeed, the faster coda is pure delight. Running around 50 minutes, the concerto can accurately be described as Brahms’s longest orchestral work (overall behind only the German Requiem, Second Piano Quartet, and Magelone Romances), although the First Symphony is potentially longer if its first movement exposition repeat is taken.

ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut Lübeck)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (First Edition [monochrome] from the Berlin State Library)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (From Breitkopf & Härtel Sämtliche Werke)

1st Movement:
Allegro non troppo (First movement concerto [Double exposition sonata] form). B-FLAT MAJOR, 4/4 time.

0:00 [m. 1]--Theme 1.  In a famously evocative opening, the principal horn presents the first gesture of the main theme.  Its first three rising notes will permeate the movement.  The triplet rhythm of the subsequent falling motion is adopted by the piano in its response.  Rising arpeggios, beginning low in the bass, lead to an echo of the horn figure.  The horn then presents the answering second phrase, which begins with a downward leap but is otherwise similar.  The piano responds in the same way.  Flutes, clarinets, and bassoons then introduce the distinctive continuation with its gently falling thirds.  Halfway through this continuation,the strings make their entrance, and there is an unusually early turn to the home minor key.
0:43 [m. 11]--Piano cadenza.  Brahms follows the model of Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto here by inserting a substantial solo cadenza before the orchestral exposition begins in earnest.  Taking over after the motion to minor, the piano begins a series of rapidly upward-shooting left hand arpeggios in groups of six notes to a beat.  Punctuating the close of each arpeggio, the right hand plays sharp descending half-steps in octaves.  A sequence in B-flat minor is followed by one in E-flat minor.  In the next two measures, the right hand interjections include upward motion to chords, becoming more insistent.  The arpeggios and interjections are suddenly cut off by the arrival of a dissonant “diminished seventh” chord.
1:00 [m. 17]--With a motion back to B-flat major, the piano grandly erupts in rich left hand chords, whose straight rhythm is played against triplet-rhythm octaves in the right hand that wind their way down.  Then the right hand joins the left hand harmony in the same rhythm, forming full chords that gradually swell upward, with longer notes on the downbeats.  After four measures of this motion, the right hand again erupts into triplets, this time with full chords sweeping down and back up.  Against this, the left hand plays a variant of the main theme that includes the falling thirds from the initial wind continuation.
1:25 [m. 25]--The right hand triplets move to the middle of the keyboard, and their arching shapes are arranged so that it sounds like each measure has three long beats with four eighth notes to a beat instead of four beats in triplets.  The left hand strongly punctuates every two right hand notes or chords with an octave on the “dominant” note F.  These alternate between low and high, with the hand crossing over the right for each octave.  This obscures the triplet rhythm even more.  The intensity builds strongly, leading toward the eruption of the full orchestra.  In the last measure, everything moves downward, including the upper octave, which the right hand takes.  The last two-note group is replaced by a sharp anticipatory chord.
1:38 [m. 29]--Transition.  From this point, the orchestra fully takes over for the remainder of the first exposition.  The full orchestra proudly states the opening gesture of the main theme, punctuated by timpani rolls.  The second phrase is varied, fragmented and repeated, with the woodwinds maintaining the regular motion while the strings introduce strong syncopation across the bar.  The descending triplet is then isolated, with the violins rising (at first with the woodwinds) over a strong and steady bass.  The harmony moves toward F, the “dominant.”
1:53 [m. 35]--The music now becomes fully transitional.  The first violins and high winds play yearning upward half-steps followed by a descending octave.  The triplet motion continues in other instruments.  This continues for three measures until a high point is reached.  After a triplet arpeggio in the cellos, the first violins undulate in syncopation and the volume greatly diminishes.  F major has been established.
2:11 [m. 42]--Against continuing syncopation in the horns, the strings begin their own metrically ambiguous lead-in to the second theme.  It begins with a yearning upward motion and continues with long notes held across bar lines and avoiding strong beats.  Descending leaps are introduced.  Everything quiets down considerably.  The key moves to D minor, the “relative” key of F major, where the second theme will be heard.  An arching harmonized arpeggio in the woodwinds provides the final preparation.
2:30 [m. 48]--Theme 2 (D minor).  The theme is expressive and rather melancholy.  The violins present the tune, which emphasizes a long dotted (long-short) rhythm.  The violas and cellos alternate in an accompaniment with rising plucked arpeggios in triplet rhythm.  Clarinets and bassoons provide a background of slow-moving harmonies.  The melody gradually works its way upward as oboes join the long wind harmonies.  The theme culminates in a highly charged harmonized statement of the rising three-note figure that opened the main theme.
2:53 [m. 56]--Closing material.  Still in D minor, the violins and violas forcefully lead into a new idea with a rising six-note scale figure (a “sextuplet” in one beat).  This scale figure will become important.  The woodwinds then join for a sharply articulated chordal idea in a shorter dotted rhythm.  This is punctuated by a descending sextuplet in the low strings.  After another rising statement, the descending sextuplet is passed four times between the first and second violins.  Meanwhile, the dotted-rhythm idea continues in the lower instruments.  The last descent is extended to two beats with the violins joining together.
3:05 [m. 61]--The first gesture from the main theme, with its three-note opening and descending triplet, asserts itself dramatically in the D-minor key, presented by the full orchestra with the strings playing tremolo.  The second gesture, the descending figure, is presented in the winds with the falling third, but the opening gesture is heard against it in the bass and strings, and this dominates.  The sequence is presented twice, the second time with the strings an octave higher and with changes in the wind/brass scoring.  In the last three measures, with the strings still in tremolo and the higher winds briefly dropping out, a variant of the descending second gesture with the triplet figure leads into two loud chords with string trills.  These move the key toward F with a “diminished seventh” harmony and end the orchestral exposition.
3:24 [m. 68]--Opening cadenza.  As the orchestra breaks off, the piano emerges into three ascending loud chords based on the three-note opening.  They begin on F, the preparatory “dominant” in the home key of B-flat, which is immediately established.  Then the piano emerges into a rhapsodic series of octaves that work their way up in groups of two-note descents in triplet rhythm.  Bass notes on the beat are followed immediately by right hand octaves just off the beat.  After reaching high, the octaves plunge directly downward in both hands.  They slow to straight rhythm, then single beats and single notes in each hand.
3:39 [m. 73]--Theme 1.  The piano presents its solo version of the theme, which expands it by lingering on the descending triplet, repeating it with syncopation and moving it up a step, steadily building.  The left hand accompaniment is in straight rhythm, and there are two-against-three groupings.  The piano then inverts and harmonizes the triplet, decorating it with fast arpeggios in the now-familiar “sextuplet” groupings.  At this point the horns timidly enter against the piano with a long note.  The inverted “ascending” version is repeated and expanded upward.  Plucked descending cellos timidly enter, as do clarinets, oboe and bassoon.  The ascending figure builds rapidly before reaching even higher toward the next arrival point. 
4:00 [m. 81]--As the piano reaches its goal, the full orchestra enters majestically with a harmonized version of the first three notes.  The piano immediately responds with a dramatic rising sequence of chords and octaves based on this opening figure.  It is in triplet rhythm and runs a bar and a half.  The orchestra then presents the gesture again with new harmonies and beginning halfway through the bar.  The piano again responds in a similar way, also with new harmonies.  The figure is then passed between the violins and the piano.  Pizzicato strings underscore the arrival point.
4:13 [m. 85]--On the upbeat, a rapid piano arpeggio in contrary motion leads into the answering phrase, presented in alternation between sharp staccato chords in the strings and the piano.  The winds enter here, their legato keeping the phrase together above the alternating strings and piano.  The arrival point is again marked by a piano arpeggio in contrary motion.  The continuation follows in the first violins, the cellos providing a contrasting line and the other strings pulsating in syncopation.  The piano completes the phrase with minor-key inflections, off-beat chords forming an inner texture between the melody and the bass.
4:29 [m. 92]--The strings take up the falling-third continuation again, this time with the cellos entering in imitation of the first violins.  This statement is more subdued and leads into a quiet extension with a full cadence.  After the cadence, the woodwinds answer with a very gentle, dolce response.  The piano takes this up, swelling slightly over triplet arpeggios in the left hand.  Unexpectedly, this leads to an atmospheric and dissonant “diminished seventh” chord, punctuated by plucked strings.  Clarinets, bassoons, and horns hold this as the piano sweeps up and down with arpeggios on the same harmony in both hands.
5:05 [m. 104]--Transition.  The “diminished” harmony moves away from the home key, and the transition begins in F major as the high winds present the answering phrase of the main theme, dolce.  The piano responds with descending right-hand octaves against wide triplet arpeggios in the left hand, moving toward D-flat.  The oboe leads a second statement in that key.  This time, the piano extends its answer, breaking its octaves with the leading lower note off the beat.  The left hand starts a new counterpoint in the tenor range.  In the last measure, the right-hand octaves contract to fourths, with the “tenor” line a third below that.  The strings then gently present their metrically-ambiguous “lead-in” from 2:13 [m. 42] in F major.
5:33 [m. 114]--The piano presents a new solo statement somewhat reminiscent of the opening cadenza.  Both hands broadly wind up the keyboard, but the right hand plays in straight rhythm against the left in triplets, beginning on an upbeat.  At the high point, the right hand slowly begins to move down while adding its own second voice, the left hand still swaying in triplets.  Finally, the right hand takes up the triplets with a cascading downward motion that alternates two-note harmonies with single notes, while the left hand plays straight broken octaves.
5:44 [m. 118]--New Transition Theme.  Suddenly, the violas emerge in pulsing groups of six while the cellos and basses play a martial dotted rhythm.  This becomes the basis of a brand new transition theme that is confident, but harmonically unstable.  The two-bar unit is first played by the bassoons and horns in D-flat major.  It is then taken by the violins and violas in F major, the pulsing groups of six passing to the horns.  A third statement from the upper winds is again in D-flat (the pulsing passing back to violas), and a fourth from violins and violas slides up a half-step to D major (the pulsing moving down to the cellos).  Finally, the piano cuts off the sequence with a string of descending chords leading back toward F major.
6:09 [m. 128]--The material of the new theme is used to continue the extended transition.  Violins and violas isolate the martial rhythm.  Against it, the piano erupts into very light, but wide and highly virtuosic arpeggios.  These are in a fast triplet rhythm, with the hands moving in different directions, the right stretching up and the left reaching down.  The martial rhythm fragments into shorter figures, and a flute enters to take them over from the strings.  They are also incorporated into the piano arpeggios.  The harmony moves toward C.
6:21 [m. 133]--The piano now continues with a broader idea stated in right hand octaves.  These are initially played in half-steps that widely alternate between high and low.  After two measures, the half-steps are replaced by single wide leaps between the octaves.  The left hand accompanies with off-beat arpeggiated figures in triplet rhythm.  Bassoons, joined by clarinet, accompany in long chords.  The harmony is highly unstable, and it touches on the remote key of G-flat.
6:32 [m. 137]--The wide leaps now pass to flute and clarinet, against which the piano plays chords and resolutions stretching up the keyboard, still in triplet rhythm.  Then the right hand plays cascading descents, still in triplets but beginning off the beat, while the left hand plays arpeggios in “straight” rhythm.  Suddenly, the strings begin to play the yearning upward motion and the held notes over bar lines, familiar as the “lead-in” from 2:13 [m. 42] and again toward the beginning of this greatly extended transition.  This begins against a persistent F in the bass.  But then, at the leaps, the strings wrench the harmony through highly chromatic motion, finally establishing F minor, where Theme 2 will be heard.
6:57 [m. 146]--Theme 2 (F minor).  The key signature changes to four flats.  The thematic outline clearly matches the orchestral statement in D minor at 2:33 [m. 48], but the theme is here presented by the piano without accompaniment, and its character is changed.  It is now percussive and forceful, and the piano embellishes the melody with chords.  The theme is also given a metrically flexible triplet-rhythm division, both in the thematic right hand and the accompanying left hand.  The latter plays triplet arpeggios with low bass notes and wide reaches.  The presentation of the theme reaches a cascading arpeggio in octaves, and as in its orchestral presentation, it culminates in the harmonized statement of the rising three-note figure.
7:19 [m. 154]--Closing material in F minor, analogous to 2:55 [m. 56].  The piano plays the initial statement of the dotted-rhythm chords.  Its lead-in, however, is not a “sextuplet,” but an 14-note sweep in octaves split between the hands and covering almost three octaves in each hand.  The first chords are accompanied by rapid nine-note descent in the left hand, replacing the descending sextuplet.  The left hand then joins the chords.  The strings enter for the continuation.  The cellos and basses play the sextuplet lead-in and dotted rhythm, as they had before.  Against this, the descending sextuplet is passed between hands of the piano instead of the violins.  The hands join for the last descent with a rapid, cascading 19 notes in octaves, spread over two beats.
7:32 [m. 159]--In another new insert not present in the orchestral exposition, the piano presents a highly percussive closing theme.  It stamps relentlessly, punctuated with low bass octaves.  The strings enter softly after two measures, the lower ones plucked.  A second phrase begins like the first, but an octave higher, and now the pianist’s power is stretched even more to the limit.  The upper notes reach higher and higher.  The light string accompaniment is now all pizzicato beneath the thundering onslaught of the piano.  The second phrase is extended to five measures, further increasing the intensity.
7:56 [m. 168]--The tension further increases as the piano breaks into wild high trills, harmonized in thirds, in the right hand.  These are further punctuated by arpeggios at the end of each measure.  The strings and piano left hand play the main rising three-note figure against these trills.  The flutes and bassoons descend against it.  After two measures, the strings stop, and the left hand plays the three-note triplet descent from the main theme in powerful octaves.  After two more measures, the strings enter again, alternating the triplet descent with the left hand.  The last trills are in both hands, and the pianist finally breaks off, having seemingly triumphed in an Olympian struggle, giving way for the orchestra to close the double exposition.
8:16 [m. 174]--Orchestral closing in F minor.  The first four measures match the analogous passage at 3:08 [m. 61].  The only change is that the second horn reinforces the descending triplet in the strings and high winds.  The three-measure closing from the orchestral exposition, however, is replaced by a measure of descending triplets in the violins and violas, played in a powerful tremolo and continuing the intensity.
8:29 [m. 179]--The orchestra extends the closing with a strong statement of Theme 2, accompanied by the continuing tremolo triplets.  The first gesture is cut off by short hammer-like figures in the second measure, but the theme then restarts, continuing for three measures before the hammering figures intervene again.  Finally, things quiet down as the clarinets and tremolo violins make a long “chromatic” descent in half steps.  A couple of whole steps are added at the end, leading to a quiet, trembling harmony on D-flat.  This closes the double exposition and prepares for the development section.
8:55 [m. 188]--First section.  The opening of the development parallels the very beginning.  The horn gently enters over the D-flat string tremolo, playing the main opening gesture in F minor.  The minor key transforms its character.  The horn entry is lengthened, displacing the meter by a half-measure.  As at the outset, the piano responds with arpeggios and an echo.  The tremolo strings enter again and extend the piano response by a half-measure, restoring the displaced meter. The answering phrase and the piano’s response then follow as expected, adding a syncopated upbeat entry at the beginning and a small dotted-rhythm flourish at the end of both the phrase and the response.  Flute and oboe join the horn.
9:19 [m. 195]--The continuation with falling thirds is now also played by the horn, with bassoon accompaniment.  There is a slight variation in the melodic line, with an upward motion replacing a downward one after the first falling thirds.  The string tremolo moves downward.  Flute and first violins join the horn at the end of the phrase.  With the music already in minor, this passage naturally incorporates the opening’s minor-key turn, which was surprising then.  There is a rapid crescendo.
9:31 [m. 199]--Corresponds to the first six measures of the piano cadenza from 0:45 [m. 11].  The first sequence is in F minor, the second in B-flat minor.  In a twist, Brahms now has the strings participate in music that was originally for the piano alone.  The first violins play the sharp half-step interjections, leaving the piano to take only the arpeggios, which are now eight notes instead of six and split between the hands.  Second violins, violas, and cellos punctuate the beats with pizzicato chords.  In the last two measures, the piano joins the strings on the insistent upward motion to chords.  The “diminished seventh” is replaced by a “dominant seventh” built on G-flat.
9:46 [m. 205]--Here, the correspondence to the opening breaks off.  The key signature changes to two sharps.  The G-flat “dominant seventh,” interpreted as F-sharp, leads to a key center on B.  At first this is major.  The piano plays forceful off-beat syncopated chords.  Against them, the strings, now all bowed, play the sharp interjections in unison.  After a measure, the strings briefly drop out and the sharp interjections, their direction reversed, are played by the piano in full chords.  Then there is another full two-measure sequence of this alternation a fourth higher.
9:56 [m. 209]--The piano’s syncopation now thins to octaves instead of full chords.  These now leap up and down, usually at the distance of an octave.  The motion resembles the wide leaps from the transitional material at 6:33 [m. 137].  The violins and violas play a murmuring tremolo while the cellos and basses play their own broad line with octave leaps.  The flutes, clarinets, and bassoons also enter with slow-moving chords.  The passage ends with two sharp chords again confirming the “dominant” harmony in B.  There is a hint of a change from B major to B minor.
10:05 [m. 213]--Second section.  It is built from the “new transition theme” first heard at 5:46 [m. 118].  At the arrival point, the distinctive dotted rhythm from that theme is heard first in the low strings, dovetailed with the violins and violas.  Against this, the clarinets and bassoons play a harmonized triplet-rhythm arpeggio.  The string sequence is repeated a half-step lower and the arpeggio is now played by the piano, with the right hand moving at double speed.  This leads to a full cadence in B minor.
10:10 [m. 215]--A series of sequences begins here, all based on the dotted rhythm from the “new transition theme.”  The piano plays a cascading series of chords, doubled between the hands, in continuous long-short rhythm.  Meanwhile, the strings continue to suggest the original, somewhat broader long-short rhythm from the theme.  The piano chords arch back up and move from B minor to D major, where they again play the same arching motion.  This in turn moves to A major, but the piano chords are cut off by a descending harmonized triplet arpeggio in flutes and clarinets.  The piano responds with its own descent, echoing the triplets in the left hand, but with a rapid 32nd-note run in the right.  The arpeggio sequence is played again a fourth lower, this time without the flutes, and the music moves back to D major.
10:25 [m. 221]--The piano begins another series of chords in D major, but this time the continuous dotted rhythm is in the left hand, and the right hand fills in the space between the left hand chords.  The direction is reversed, and is now a general up-down arching motion.  The lower strings, bassoon, and clarinets continue to provide a background based on the transition theme.  After four measures, the harmony is again diverted to a chord on F-sharp, seeming to herald another motion to B.  This is reinforced by alternating string and piano triplet-rhythm arpeggios.  But at the end of the second alternation, the piano arpeggio makes a deceptive motion and diverts the music a half-step higher than expected, to C major.
10:40 [m. 227]--The next sequence is similar, with right hand chords filling in the space between the left hand chords.  The general direction is again reversed into a down-up arch.  The harmony quickly moves through the circle of fifths, from C major to G major to D major.  This time the chords only continue for two measures.  The arpeggios cut them off, as expected, but now they move downward and the piano right hand speeds up again to cascading 32nd notes.  This time, an expected diversion back to B is fulfilled.
10:50 [m. 231]--It seems as if another sequence similar to that from 10:26 [m. 221] is going to begin in B major, and indeed it does, but after one measure, it is abruptly and almost rudely cut off.  The winds play a loud sustained chord on F-sharp, the strings briefly drop out, and the piano plunges down the keyboard with broken triplet-rhythm octaves in both hands.  These are in contrary motion, the right hand following the left. 
The piano lands on a powerful chord, reinforced by the winds.  The chord is D-sharp minor, “relative” to F-sharp.  The strings simultaneously take over the plunging descent, with tremolo and staccato markings. 
10:57 [m. 234]--The piano and strings have another alternation of the same nature, this time moving to G-sharp minor.  Finally, the piano has two full measures of broken octaves, with four brief descents against sustained wind chords.  The bass moves down by half-step from G-sharp to F-sharp.  The piano and orchestra make a powerful and full arrival on the chord of F-sharp major.
11:08 [m. 238]--Third section/Re-transition.  With the arrival on F-sharp, the orchestra plays the main three-note ascent, harmonized and oriented as leading toward the key center.  The held third chord quiets quickly.  The piano begins to play light, decorative rising arpeggios in 32nd notes. While cellos and basses hold a low C-sharp, the other strings murmur for two measures under the piano decorations.  Then the low strings suggest the falling-third continuation.  The piano arpeggios become freer (groups of ten and seven notes), and suggest the opening cadenza.  Flute and oboe enter, echoing the low strings on the falling thirds.  The piano suddenly plunges down with forceful octaves in broken triplets, the right hand following the left.
11:26 [m. 244]--The three-note ascent with harmonization in F-sharp is heard again from the orchestra as the piano finishes its downward plunge.  But then the last note, E-sharp, is reinterpreted as F, and the figure is repeated starting from that note, the harmony skillfully moving to the home key of B-flat as signaled by its key signature.  A timpani roll marks the significance of the moment.  The five measures from that point are a direct transposition of the previous passage, except the flute/oboe echo is now taken by a bassoon.  The plunging piano octaves do not interrupt, and instead the passage continues.
11:45 [m. 250]--In the new continuation, the flute and oboe reassert themselves on the falling thirds after the bassoon’s brief usurpation.  The piano arpeggios return to regular 32nd notes, but they still pause on chords with the motion reminiscent of the first cadenza.  The harmony becomes active, with the bass moving up by half-step from the “dominant” note F.  Another alternation between low strings and flute/oboe on the falling thirds suggests C major over its “dominant” note G in the bass.  The low strings begin another statement, leading up to A in the bass, but there is no wind echo.  Instead, the hushed piano arpeggios are isolated, slowed down to “sextuplets,” and suspended, suggesting a full motion to A major.
12:04 [m. 256]-The final transition is magical. Over a held A- major chord in the strings, the piano settles into a series of shimmering oscillations.  The left hand leads into these with an A-major arpeggio.  The hands, separated by an octave, are in the upper register.  The top notes of the oscillations outline descending half-steps.  These gradually move up: F—E, G—F-sharp, A—G-sharp, and finally B-flat—A.  The low strings move to the “dominant” note F under this last upward shift.  This atmospheric passage, almost like a celestial music box, creates a wonderful preparation for the hushed, but highly satisfying entrance of the main theme for the recapitulation.  The horns, supported by clarinets, enter early in preparation for this.
12:16 [m. 260]--The main theme is clearly heard in the first horn, holding the opening note over from the previous upbeat, now harmonized by clarinets.  The shimmering piano oscillations continue under this entry, as does the string background.  The piano figuration works its way downward, replacing the original piano response and even echoing the descending triplet.  But then, in a skillful variation, the flute and oboe take over the rising figure following the echo, and the piano immediately plays its original response, delayed by a measure.  This causes it to dovetail with the answering phrase.  The piano’s original response to that is heard where expected, but its ending is punctuated by pizzicato string arpeggios.
12:39 [m. 266]--The continuation with falling thirds is presented as at the beginning, with strings following winds.  But now the piano enters overlapping with its conclusion.  At the beginning, this was where the big first cadenza occurred.  Here, the piano plays gentle harmonized triplets that move to the minor key.  These wind their way down the keyboard, building as they go, with the bass adding wider leaps.  The triplets are somewhat reminiscent of the first cadenza.  There is a brief wind interjection derived from the familiar “lead-in,” then the piano plays an abbreviated version of its solo statement from 5:35 [m. 114].  It is reinforced by the strings.  It leads directly into the “new transition theme” from 5:45 [m. 118].
13:11 [m. 276]--Brahms has deftly elided from orchestral exposition material into the latter part of the solo exposition, abridging both.  From this point, the structure closely matches the solo exposition from 5:45 [m. 118], transposed up a fourth.  The piano tumbles into the “new transition theme,” overlapping with it.  The four statements are in G-flat, B-flat, G-flat again, and G.  There are some slight changes in scoring.  Oboes and clarinets replace horns on the first one.  A bassoon joins the third.  Cellos always pulse with the violas, and the horns pulsate on both the second and fourth statements (replacing cellos on the fourth one).  The piano chords lead back toward B-flat.
13:36 [m. 286]--Light, virtuosic piano arpeggios in contrary motion against the martial rhythm, analogous to 6:11 [m. 128].  Many of the left hand arpeggios are narrowed by an octave, making them easier to execute.  The flute entry on the short fragments from the martial rhythm is replaced by a clarinet.
13:48 [m. 291]--Broad idea in right hand octaves with fast-moving harmony, analogous to 6:22 [m. 133].  The bassoons are joined by a horn instead of a clarinet.  The harmony touches on C-flat (analogous to G-flat before).
13:59 [m. 295]--Upward chords and resolutions, then cascading descents, followed by yearning “lead-in,” analogous to 6:33 [m. 137].  The wide leaps are here played by clarinet alone, the flute only joining at the end and adding a brief extension.  The harmony moves to the home minor key (B-flat minor) for Theme 2, signified by a change to a five-flat key signature.
14:24 [m. 304]--Theme 2 (B-flat minor).  The piano presents its forceful version of Theme 2 as it did in the F-minor statement at 6:58 [m. 146].
14:46 [m. 312]--Closing material in B-flat minor, presented as it was in F minor at 7:20 [m. 154].  There is one major change.  During the continuation introduced by the low strings, where the descending sextuplets had before been passed between the hands of the piano, here they alternate between the violins and the piano, the latter playing with both hands in octaves.  Thus, the presentation of the same material from both the orchestral and solo expositions is unified here in the recapitulation.
14:59 [m. 317]--Percussive closing theme, analogous to 7:33 [m. 159].  The two-flat key signature of B-flat major returns two-measures into the second statement.  Previously, the F-minor key signature remained in force at this point.  The last two measures do not reach as high, replacing some of the chromatic ascents with repetitions.  This changes the path of the harmony.
15:23 [m. 326]--Wild trills harmonized in thirds, analogous to 7:57 [m. 168], but with important harmonic and structural alterations.  The first two measures dispense with both the thematic orchestral counterpoint and the punctuating arpeggios.  Instead, the left hand plunges down in thunderous block chords against the trills, which also move down by octave.  The harmony is also completely changed.  These first two measures are centered on F-sharp minor and C-sharp minor.  The orchestra only provides punctuating chords and a wind background. 
15:29 [m. 328]--In the next measure, the descending triplet from the theme does appear in violins and violas while the harmonized piano trills now thunder with both hands in the bass.  The next measure erupts into a sweeping, rapid upward piano arpeggio while the strings complete the thematic fragment with a rising fourth.  F-sharp minor now leads to C-sharp major.  Then the first two measures with the trills and chords on F-sharp and C-sharp are repeated, but they are now in major.
15:41 [m. 332]--The expected climax is averted.  The piano trills again move to the bass, as they did four measures earlier, but they quickly become quiet.  Brahms skillfully reinterprets F-sharp as G-flat and E-sharp as F-natural to pivot back to B-flat, initially B-flat minor, where the music was before the diversion to F-sharp and C-sharp.  Very subtly, the main theme emerges on its original instrument, the horn, gradually moving to major.  In an extension, the descending triplet is twice repeated, doubled by the oboe and then, making its brief appearance, the piccolo.  The rising fourth follows as the piano right hand begins to play broken octaves, moving up chromatically in sextuplets and subtly echoing the triplet.  The left hand continues with the low bass trill.
15:58 [m. 337]--The pattern continues with the answering phrase in the horn.  This time the oboe and clarinet echo the descending fourth.  The piano pattern speeds up the sextuplets to nine-note groups and descends.  The descending fourth is echoed again, now by clarinet and bassoon.  A third, extremely quiet echo is provided by bassoon, oboe and piccolo, the latter instrument making its second and last “cameo” entrance.  The atmosphere is extremely hushed, mysterious, and tense.  The low bass trills continue and the chromatic piano figures work their way down.  They soon contract from the octave over a persistent B-flat, then expand down an octave below this note, again in sextuplets.  The low strings provide a background.
16:15 [m. 342]--Suddenly, the full orchestra, with pizzicato strings, enters strongly with the three rising notes of the theme.  The piano follows a half-bar later in powerful chords, completing the first gesture.  There then follows a series of imitations based on the harmonized descending triplet and rising third.  The piano, with the right hand displaced just after the left, plays with the plucked strings.  Flutes, oboes, and bassoons form a second group, clarinets and horns a third.  The figure is passed somewhat irregularly between these three groups.  After two iterations from the piano/strings and one each from the other groups, the figure moves up a step for a pair of alternations between the first wind group and the piano/strings.
16:28 [m. 347]--As the clarinets and horns attempt to imitate at the new level, the piano forces the figure up another step.  The octave motion is decorated with falling-octave embellishments, which have already been heard punctuating the gestures of the imitation.  After the first wind group plays one full statement, the groups subtly merge together.  The descending triplet is then isolated without its sequel for seven straight statements with an intense buildup.  The fifth statement moves down a fourth.  The strings separate themselves and take up their bows  The horns join them in a chordal background.  The last statement of the triplet figure is stretched out to an arpeggio, which leaps powerfully up an octave.
16:35 [m. 350]--A highly fulfilled version of the transitional material from 1:55 [m. 35] with yearning upward half-steps and falling octaves is now played.  It is metrically slightly expanded, but still recognizable.  Horns, timpani and the piano provide the descending triplet motion.  The passage is colored by tremolo figures in the middle strings.  As before, a triplet arpeggio in the cellos leads out of it.
16:47 [m. 355]--The falling third continuation of the main theme now has its apotheosis.  It rings from the top line of the piano over continuous descending sextuplet arpeggios, supported by plucked strings.  A second statement is provided by a flute solo supported by bowed first violins and cellos, with the piano continuing the arpeggios.  The flute is joined by an oboe after two measures.  These instruments, soon joined by horns, spin out the conclusion of the phrase, which then dissolves into two-note descents in the first violins.  There is another brief oboe/horn entrance, and then the violins are left to settle things down.  The piano arpeggios, continuous throughout, conclude with two gently expectant sighs separated by rests.
17:26 [m. 369]--With a sudden powerful orchestral chord, the piano plays a sweeping two-octave scale in both hands, stretching twenty-one notes over two beats.  At its culmination, it erupts into a double trill on F, supported by flute and oboe.  Then the orchestra plays the ubiquitous main motive.  Violins play the downward motion of the answering phrase while low strings and bassoons take the upward motion.  The timpani have been used sparingly throughout, but now their punctuating rolls add power to the sustained trill, now joined by clarinets with the other flute and oboe.  The descending triplet is isolated and given two separate statements, supported by downward leaps in straight rhythm from low strings, horns and bassoons.
17:35 [m. 372]--The descending triplet is now given three consecutive statements as the piano trill, supported by wind instruments, moves up to F-sharp.  Then the trill works up to G and A, finally reaching a thrilling and satisfying arrival on B-flat, as if  the wind instruments have supported the pianist in an ascent to the summit.  The arrival is punctuated by an upward series of chords in the piano with the right hand closely trailing the left.  Two sharp and short B-flat chords from the piano and full orchestra, followed by a long and sustained clinching one, end this monumental movement.
17:58--END OF MOVEMENT [376 mm.]

2nd Movement:
Allegro appassionato (Scherzo-Trio/Sonata form hybrid). D MINOR, 3/4 time.
EXPOSITION (Scherzo Part 1)
0:00 [m. 1]--Theme 1.  The piano launches into the main scherzo theme, beginning with a two-beat, four-note pickup on D and E in both hands.  This leads to an upward-shooting arpeggio landing on a chord.  The low strings enter with a three-note descent, supported by horns.  After holding the chord, the piano begins to develop the three-note descent from the low strings, developing it into a heaving, surging undulation.  This figure twice moves upward, then stretches into a forceful cadence figure with ringing chordal grace notes.  Under this, the low strings and horns provide heavily syncopated reiterations of the note B-flat, breaking these to support the D-minor cadence.
0:15 [m. 16]--As the piano reaches its cadence, the wind instruments play the opening gesture with the pickup, arpeggio, and chord.  The piano immediately imitates this a fifth higher, moving right to the surging undulation.  Appearing to approach the cadence figure again, Brahms extracts a leaping gesture from the undulating material, already anticipated by the low strings.  This is played four times with subtle harmonic alterations, the last adding a second downward leap.  The low strings continue their anticipations of each statement.  Clarinets and bassoons provide harmonic sighs in support.  The cadence is avoided, and the piano works down in syncopated chords with a rumbling bass, approaching a hushed half-close in A minor.
0:39 [m. 43]--Theme 2 (A minor).  Overlapping with the half-close, the violins and violas in unison present the second theme, another sighing gesture, but a more melodic one.  Brahms marks it tranquillo e dolce.  It is characterized by a long held note leading to a quick upper neighbor motion, followed by a three-note descent.  These elements are extended in the unison statement.  It has a distinctively austere flavor.  Cellos and basses punctuate the close.
0:52 [m. 54]--Overlapping the string statement with an arpeggio, the piano presents its colorfully harmonized and decorated version of the austere theme.  After five measures, the piano varies the theme, adding a distinctive closing gesture with descending notes.  These are supported by off-beat chords and a widely leaping left hand.  A restatement of this gesture, beginning higher, leads to a full arrival on E minor.
1:03 [m. 66]--In a continuation, the main gesture of Theme 1 returns as an upbeat.  It continues with a delicate rising arpeggio, the left hand rising above off-beat punctuation in the right hand.  This is accompanied by isolated plucked string chords, a single beat followed by three chords with a descending bass line.  The key appears to move back toward D minor.  The upbeat and hand-crossing arpeggio are repeated and the plucked string bass continues to descend.  A third statement of the Theme 1 motive leads to a soaring line in the right hand, the same hand playing off-beat chords.  The left hand has a wide ranging, disjointed line, doubled by plucked low strings. The key moves back to another full cadence in E minor.
1:12 [m. 74]--The pattern from 1:03 [m. 66] begins again, but this time the second statement of the hand-crossing arpeggio  is a third higher, and the third statement of the Theme 1 motive is moved up a fourth.  The soaring line is replaced by a more jagged variant, more closely matching the left hand and low strings.  The left hand itself uses more harmony against it.
1:18 [m. 82]--The jagged line leads into a more melodious extension.  It is characterized by off-beat chords underneath the melodic line.  Three phrases move up in sequence, and then the melody works back down.  As the extension begins, the violas and cellos play three interjections of the Theme 1 motive, also moving up in sequence.  The third of these is immediately repeated a step lower.  As the piano works its way down, the volume diminishes and the key moves to A minor. The violas and cellos settle on a long low E, which they then pluck three times.  The piano cuts off, leaving the strings, including violins, to pluck a half close.
1:31 [m. 95]--Transition.  The plucked strings repeat their half close, then continue the pattern, repeatedly avoiding a full cadence in A minor.  The piano breaks into a variant of Theme 2, beginning off the beat and accompanied by arpeggios in both hands.  The sighing gestures of the theme at the top of the right hand project over the arpeggios.
1:39 [m. 102]--A cadence in A minor is finally reached.  The piano plays three alternations of an octave A in the left and right hands, followed by one on the leading tone, G-sharp.  Against these, the cellos/violas and violins alternate on harmonized statements of the Theme 1 motive and its inversion.  These  change A minor to A major.  The string basses enter, plucking on A.  For the first ending (m. 106a), these four measures are repeated in full and followed by two more detached octave alternations on A with short string chords.  The volume fades to pianissimo.
1:49 [m. 112a, upbeat to m. 1]--Theme 1, through first cadence, as at the beginning.
2:02 [m. 16]--Continuation beginning with winds, leaping gesture and half-close in A minor, as at 0:15.
2:26 [m. 43]--Theme 2 in A minor presented by strings, as at 0:39.
2:39 [m. 54]--Decorated piano statement of theme and arrival at E minor, as at 0:52.
2:51 [m. 66]--Continuation with Theme 1 gestures, left hand arpeggios crossing over right, then soaring line, as at 1:03.
2:58 [m. 74]--Same pattern reaching higher, then disjointed line, as at 1:12.
3:05 [m. 82]--Melodious extension with motion back to A minor, as at 1:18.
3:18 [m. 95]--Transition with off-beat variant of Theme 2, as at 1:31.
3:26 [m. 102]--Cadence in A minor with piano octave alternations and Theme 1 motives in strings, as at 1:39.  At the second ending (m. 106b), the pattern breaks, with the piano dropping out, the violins moving up and then the winds (flutes, oboes, bassoons) echoing them with a sudden entry.  Strings and winds hold the chord (a “dominant seventh” on A).  Then the piano enters against it, playing the Theme 1 motive in octaves between the hands.  After one  low bass statement, the piano isolates the first four notes, stating them four times, each time moving up an octave and strongly building.  A harmony note (E) is added to the last three.  These four-note figures obscure the meter, creating a three-bar “hemiola” or cross-rhythm.
Scherzo Part 2
3:37 [m. 114]--Section 1.  Statement of Theme 1 in C-sharp minor, beginning with the rising arpeggio in the low strings.  The piano answers, rising up in chords quickly alternating between hands, then continuing with the undulating motion.  The low strings play the familiar descent.  The piano then erupts into brilliant arpeggios in both hands that incorporate two-and three-note block harmonies with crunching dissonances.  Two of these arpeggios lead to more forceful chords, supported by string interjections and leading to a cadence in E minor.  The low strings begin another statement of the theme under the cadence.
3:48 [m. 126]--The statement with chords and virtuoso arpeggios is repeated in E minor, but then extended with a third arpeggio that changes the harmony before the last forceful chords.  These are now not supported by the string interjections, and they lead to an arrival on A major.
3:59 [m. 140]--Section 2.  The strings and winds alternate on three statements of the main theme opening.  The strings present the four-note upbeat and arpeggio and the winds follow with the undulation.  The three statements are in D minor, F minor, and G-sharp minor.  Against these, the piano plays strong rising octaves in both hands.  These rise steadily up the scale, although the octaves against the second, F-minor statement are displaced by moving them to the low bass.  The last G-sharp minor statement is extended by two measures, building powerfully.
4:11 [m. 155]--The attention now turns to Theme 2, which is presented forcefully by the woodwinds in C-sharp minor.  Against this, the piano plays wild octaves rapidly alternating between the hands with leaps that seem to anticipate the upcoming “Trio” theme.  The strings and horns join, leading in the second phrase as the piano briefly breaks from its treacherous octaves.
4:18 [m. 163]--The presentation of Theme 2 begins again, this time in A minor, the first four measures given in the same manner by the woodwinds with the wild piano octaves.  The second phrase, however, is even more forceful, with the full orchestra, including trumpets and timpani, joining in.  At this point, the piano has a welcome extended break.  The orchestra lengthens the phrase by twice extending the three-note descent.  This leads to a massive cadence in the home key of D minor.  The cadence overlaps with the beginning of the Theme 1 head motive in clarinets, bassoons, timpani, violas, and cellos.
4:31 [m. 178]--The head motive of Theme 1 is used to twice reiterate the D-minor cadence, the violins, flutes and oboes following the lower instruments and timpani.  The arpeggio in the lower instruments moves down, and the following one moves up.  The four-note upbeat and the following downbeat are then isolated four more times, leading directly into the “Trio” section and an abrupt change from minor to major.
Trio (Part of Development)
4:40 [m. 188]--Section 3.  In bright D major, the violins confidently present the leaping triple-time march theme.  The detached leaping notes are accompanied by a mildly syncopated sighing figure in the horns, violas, and cellos.  This figure is derived from Theme 1’s low bass descent.  The first phrase is repeated with the instrumentation reversed, flutes and oboes also joining on the sighing figures.
4:58 [m. 204]--Section 4.  The full orchestra erupts out of the trio theme with a grand, commanding descent derived from the syncopated sighing figures.  The rhythm of a long note lasting two and a half beats, followed by a clipped eighth note, is distinctive.  The gesture is stated twice in E minor, followed by by a third, more decisive descent that leads to an arrival on an A-major chord punctuated by a timpani roll.
5:14 [m. 216]--The orchestra abruptly drops out, and the piano, absent for some time, enters with a winding, convoluted pattern in octaves.  At first, the left and right hands are doubled, but after two similar gestures, the left hand changes its motion, creating harmony with the right, though both hands still play in awkward, extremely challenging octaves.  The passage concludes with a descent to an A-major cadence.  After the grand orchestral climax just heard, Brahms marks this entry pianissimo and sotto voce, which only adds to its difficulty.
5:23 [m. 224]--The cadenza-like convoluted pattern just heard in octaves is now repeated as a melody with full, rich three- and four-voice harmony.  The right hand plays intricate legato double notes, adding a voice below the existing melody.  The left hand plays another pattern similar to the original.  After four measures, it too plays in double notes, creating a four-voice texture.  Mild syncopation is added before the cadence, which trails off.
5:32 [m. 232]--The piano again briefly drops out as clarinets, bassoons, horns, and low strings enter with another twofold statement of the descent from 4:58 [m. 204], now in A minor.  The previously majestic figure is now transformed into a hushed, almost funereal punctuation.  The third, more decisive descent is not heard, but there is still an implied motion toward D.
5:45 [m. 240]--Section 5.  The piano again enters alone, now with a seemingly new idea.  The expected motion toward D major or minor is diverted to F major (“relative” to D minor).  The new idea is a broadly lyrical theme with a descending right-hand melody.  The left hand accompanies in wide arpeggios, arching up and back down.  It turns out that the melody is also derived from the “majestic” descending figure.  This is confirmed when a lower voice is added in the right hand under the distinctive downward leap that ends the figure.  This lower voice reaches down into the tenor register against left hand undulations.
5:54 [m. 248]--The lyrical melody is repeated a third lower in D minor, the originally expected key.
6:03 [m. 256]--Section 6.  In preparation for the coming climax, the strings surreptitiously play the opening of the trio theme unison in D minor.  The piano answers with a fragment of its convoluted octave pattern.  These elements are then combined.  The piano further fragments its material to four brief one-bar patterns split between the hands and rising steadily.  The strings similarly fragment the trio theme, also rising.  As the strings and piano both rise, there is a strong buildup.
6:10 [m. 264]--The woodwinds enter with a leaping octave, then descend.  Against this, the piano’s hands join together, still playing the fragments in octaves.  As the winds descend, the piano plays another fragment, this time punctuated by forceful string leaps.  A piano chord signals another wind octave, which is now syncopated.  The strings and piano again play against the wind descent.  As the piano plays its chord again, the first violins join the flutes and oboes on a third octave leap.  The lower winds and strings follow in quick imitation, creating a strong syncopation.  The tension has now reached its breaking point.
6:18 [m. 272]--Everything culminates in a grand, triumphant statement of the main march-like trio theme.  In the piano, the theme is presented with chords broken between the hands, the right hand following the left.  Boosting the piano, the theme is blasted out in radiant splendor by horns and trumpets.  Meanwhile, the strings play the syncopated sighing figure, the violas and cellos alternating with the violins.  This creates an almost bell-like effect.  After four measures, the woodwinds enter with chords.  The trio theme now moves in a new, upward direction, steadily building as the second violins and violas move to tremolo.
6:25 [m. 280]--The climax arrives, appropriately, on the descent from Section 4, now in its most resplendent garb.  The arrival is punctuated by timpani rolls, and the piano drops out, leaving the full orchestra to present it.  The initial long-short pattern is reiterated, and then the closing is more decisive, with a full D-major cadence.  The reiteration extends the phrase to six bars.  As massive as this climax is, it abruptly cuts off after the final cadence.  The key signature changes back to the one flat of D minor.
6:32 [m. 286]--Re-transition.  Abruptly quiet, the clarinets, bassoons, and horns play a vestigial version of the descent, harmonized in thirds and back in minor.  The strings accompany with plucked arpeggios.  As this fades, the piano enters with the familiar four-note upbeat to the main scherzo theme in both hands.  The figure is then repeated at steadily higher levels with a strong buildup, seemingly anticipating the arrival of the recapitulation.  Because the figure is only two beats, it creates a strong cross-rhythm, or “hemiola.”  After a one-beat break, the entire head motive is presented and extended upward, with full harmonies split between the hands.
6:46 [m. 299]--The woodwinds enter with a sharp chord that quickly diminishes, cutting off the piano and confirming that the buildup has been a false start.  The strings enter in imitation against this held chord, cellos, then violas, first violins and second violins, suggesting the rising arpeggio of the main scherzo theme.  The strings reach the top of their ascent and devolve into a high, shimmering tremolo.  The woodwinds then subtly hint at the surging undulation from the main theme, and the string tremolo also introduces gentle descents.  Finally, all the instruments reach a suspended held A-major chord, the preparatory “dominant” harmony.  This fades out in a moment of great anticipation.
RECAPITULATION (Abbreviated and Varied Scherzo Reprise)
7:02 [m. 315]--Theme 1.  It is presented essentially as at the beginning as far as structure is concerned, but the scoring is drastically changed.  This is immediately apparent, as the four-note upbeat begins not in the piano, but in the strings, which also play the continuation.  The piano, for its part, now plays the three-note descent formerly taken by the low strings (it is supported by the string basses here, who do not play with the other strings).  To this it adds rising octave flourishes in both hands.  The horns have the same role.  In the last six measures, the piano takes over its original role, but it is now reinforced by the full string section on the same material.  The cellos and basses add two statements of the opening motive before the cadence.
7:15 [m. 331]--The continuation and transition begins as at 0:15 and 2:02 [m. 16], with the woodwinds again leading.  The imitation, however, is taken by the strings instead of the piano, which again plays the three-note descent and rising octave flourishes.
7:25 [m. 342]--At this point, during the undulating motion, there is major deviation from the exposition.  As in the immediately preceding presentation of the theme, the piano and strings join together on material the piano alone had played before.  As in the exposition at this point, the leaping gesture is extracted and reiterated, but now the low strings add repetitions of the four-note upbeat underneath it.  In the reiterations of the leaping figure itself, the harmony is changed to avoid the A-minor half-close.
7:35 [m. 353]--The descending syncopated chords briefly heard in the piano at the end of this bridge passage before are now greatly expanded and incorporate the strings.  They continue passionately for eight measures, under which the low strings now play the entire head motive of the main theme twice, including the four-note upbeat and the upward-shooting arpeggio, then continue with an expansion of the arpeggio.  The chords of the half-close are recognizable, but now they are in the home key of D minor.  As expected, the opening of Theme 2 overlaps with this half-close, but instead of the full presentation, it is given as an anticipatory gesture by the first horn, which reaches a held note punctuated by a plucked string chord.
7:49 [m. 366]--Theme 2 (G minor and D minor).  The plucked chord under the horn is a colorful “diminished seventh.”  The first statement of Theme 2 is presented, not by unison strings, but by unison woodwinds, still marked tranquillo e dolce.  The beginning is marked by another plucked string chord that confirms the harmonic motion to the unexpected key of G minor (the “subdominant”), where the woodwind statement is played.  At the end, which was previously marked by a downward leap, the woodwinds, joined by horns, instead descend twice in harmony, leading back to the “correct” D minor key.
8:01 [m. 377]--As expected, the piano arpeggios overlap with the close of the woodwind presentation of Theme 2, corresponding to 0:52 and 2:39 [m. 43].  They are in D minor, where the first woodwind statement would have been expected.  For the first six measures, the piano only plays the accompanying arpeggios.  The thematic melody itself is played and harmonized by the horns.  The piano takes over, using its exposition patterns, from that point as the horns drop out.  The extension of the piano’s decorated statement leads to a full cadence in A minor, corresponding to the arrival on E from A in the exposition.
8:15 [m. 389]--The piano continuation corresponds to 1:03 and 2:51 [m. 66], with the left hand arpeggios crossing over the right hand, along with the descending plucked strings.  There is, as expected, another cadence on A minor.
8:23 [m. 397]--The next statement does correspond to 1:12 and 2:58 [m. 74], but it is greatly intensified with significant alterations.  Brahms prominently adds the marking sempre più agitato, which indicates that the energy will continue rather than eventually fading, as it did in the exposition.  Here, the hand crossing is dispensed with, and the right hand plays the arpeggios itself in octaves off the beat.  Then the “jagged variant” is restructured, with the right hand playing a single wide-ranging line, the melodic notes poking  out of the top.  The arrangement clearly exposes a duple cross-meter that was not as apparent before.  Because the right hand is not playing chords, the left hand now punctuates with rolled chords.
8:30 [m. 405]--In broad outlines, this passage corresponds to the “melodious extension” from 1:18 and 3:05 [m. 82], but where that diminished in volume, this builds powerfully.  The viola/cello statements of the Theme 1 opening motive are present where they would be expected, and the general contour of the piano right hand follows the previous melody.  The key also moves back to D minor, as it did from E minor to A minor in the exposition.  Here, however, both hands cascade down the keyboard with copious double notes.  Where there had been a cutoff and a quiet plucked half-close, the piano now thunders into the coda.
8:40 [m. 419]--The piano left hand plays a massive low octave D.  Then both hands work up with passionate, brilliant patterns alternating chords and single notes, clearly derived from the opening motive of Theme 1.  Against this, the same woodwinds that played Theme 2 at 7:49 [m. 366] (flute, oboe, bassoon), play its first four measures at the same level, the “subdominant” or G minor.  However, the relentless piano continues to assert D minor and major.  As the piano reaches a punctuating arrival, it begins its pattern again an octave higher.  The violins and violas immediately echo the woodwind statement from Theme 2.
8:47 [m. 427]--The horns play and hold a low D, further asserting the home key note as a “peal point.”  The piano, having reached its arrival again, is now very high and begins an extremely energetic, almost frenetic downward plunge.  This descent is peppered with dissonant “diminished” harmonies and patterns beginning on the weak second beat of the measure.  After four measures, the duple cross-meter seems to assert itself again with a plucked low-string D.  There is some resemblance to the tolling, leaping “trio” theme.
8:52 [m. 433]--The main motive of the scherzo theme asserts itself again in the violas and cellos as the tumbling piano more overtly hints at the “trio” theme in a cross-meter.  The piano then abruptly drops out as the violins take over the scherzo theme.  At the same time, the horns begin to assert themselves with strong syncopated harmonies, continuing the cross-meter.  The violins state the scherzo motive twice, then pass it back to the violas and cellos, who extend the arpeggio up another measure.
8:59 [m. 442]--The low strings now play their familiar three-note descent from the main theme, now in diminished and straight note values.  The violins then play the “surging undulation,” also in reduced note values.  The effect is that these elements of the theme are accelerated, propelling the music toward its close.  The piano enters again with an arpeggio flourish in both hands.  The undulation in the violins is repeated first an octave higher, again with the piano flourish.  The violins then bring it up another octave, now with the piano flourishes becoming continuous.  The woodwinds and brass enter to provide support.  This highest statement is extended through reiteration and reaches a powerful cadence with timpani.
9:06 [m. 451]--After this cadence, the piano plays one more massive upward surge using the alternating chords and single notes from the beginning of the coda.  The full orchestra punctuates this surge once, then again as the piano reaches the top.  The powerful movement, at first so seemingly out of place in a piano concerto, closes with one more short chord, then a final held chord from piano and orchestra, the piano moving to the lower register for the last one.
9:24--END OF MOVEMENT [457 mm.]

3rd Movement: Andante – Più Adagio – Tempo I (Ternary form).  B-FLAT MAJOR, 6/4 time.
A Section--B-flat major
0:00 [m. 1]--As in the Violin Concerto, composed shortly before, Brahms here entrusts the presentation of his slow movement’s main theme to another instrument.  There it was an oboe, here it is a solo cello, typically played by the orchestra’s principal cello.  The broad 6/4 meter is reminiscent of the slow movement from the much earlier First Piano Concerto.  The cello sings forth the theme, which is characterized by broad long-short dotted rhythms.  The accompaniment is provided by the remaining cellos, violas, and plucked string basses.  In the fourth measure, an octave leap briefly arrests the motion.
0:28 [m. 5]--For the next four-bar segment, the solo cello adds rising three-note arpeggios leading into the longer notes, arching up and back down toward the close of the first thematic statement.  During this second phrase, the first violins enter with a held high B-flat, from which they descend in syncopation after two measures.
0:56 [m. 9]--The principal bassoon enters.  It joins the first violins for the presentation of the consequent phrase.  The solo cello joins the other members of its section on their descending accompanying line, and the second violins join the accompaniment.  The horns also enter with with octaves in support of the bassoon.  For three measures, the phrase is presented as the first solo cello statement, but the halting octave leap is replaced by a more flowing continuation, which rises and gently builds in volume.
1:22 [m. 13]--The solo cello again breaks away and plays the high B-flat previously played by the first violins.  It is joined on this high note by the entering oboe.  The bassoon breaks away from the melody, briefly joining the violas on their line.  After one measure, the first violins very briefly break for two beats, passing the melody to the solo cello and oboe.  They then enter again, taking the phrase to its cadence.  The solo cello/oboe line provides the syncopated descent that the first violins had played before.  At the very end, the oboe breaks away from the solo cello and is the only instrument to rise up to the cadence.
1:50 [m. 17]--In a six-bar closing phrase, the other wind instruments enter.  The oboe and the solo cello play the same two descending arpeggios, but the cello plays a beat later than the oboe.  The oboe then continues the melody on its own with a gently rocking line, and the cello takes over after a measure.  The flutes make their first entry against the cello line, harmonizing it above.  The oboe again takes over to begin the last two measures.  Its syncopated leap down and back up (leading to an interrupted or “deceptive” cadence) is echoed by the solo cello (leading to a full cadence), rounding out the first orchestral thematic presentation.  The violins add a syncopated accompaniment.  The cadence arrives as the piano enters.
2:31 [m. 23]--The piano makes its first entry with two quiet, widely upward-winding arpeggios, doubled in octaves between the hands, the second reaching a step higher than the first.  Both begin low on the keyboard and reach quite high by the end, and both interrupt the constant upward motion with isolated downward steps, including at the end.  Against them, the strings and horns hold quiet chords, changing the harmony between them.
2:52 [m. 25]--The supporting instruments drop out, and the piano continues in a rhapsodic cadenza.  The right hand breaks into triplet rhythm with a downward-winding line while the left hand continues to play its broad arpeggio-like figures in straight rhythm.  Because the 6/4 time signature is already rich with possibilities for metrical ambiguity, this two-against-three rhythm adds another layer to it, especially at this slow tempo.  As the right hand slowly wends its way downward two octaves and adds lower harmonies, the left arches back with it.  After the initial two-bar pattern, a similar one follows, the right hand starting a seventh (almost an octave) higher.  Here, the second bar has greater downward motion.
3:17 [m. 29]--The rhythms are now reversed, with the triplets moving to the left hand.  It plays broadly arching arpeggios while the right hand introduces mildly upward surging figures in straight rhythm.  After two bars, the right hand breads into a series of patterns where the lower harmony moves down against syncopated repeated notes.  The left hand changes its arpeggios to purely upward motion with leaps back down to begin anew, still in triplets.  The top syncopated repeated notes gradually move down two levels.
3:41 [m. 33]--On the upbeat, still in m. 32, the right hand breaks into a five-note harmonized arching figure against shorter left-hand triplet arpeggios.  This figure is repeated a third lower, adding a sixth note.  The entire right hand pattern is then moved down an octave, and the two statements of the figure are heard there.  At this point, the volume builds, and the cadenza is rounded off by the right hand leaping back up to the treble register for three upbeat chords as the left hand begins arpeggios with very low octaves.
3:54 [m. 35]--The orchestra enters with a powerful allusion to the main theme in the minor key, complete with tremolos in the inner string parts.  This only lasts one measure, then the piano begins an angry two-bar sequence of piquant trills and rapidly descending downward and upward measured arpeggios.  Against them, the string tremolo continues.  Ascending cello arpeggios, followed by descending wind ones, help suggest a motion toward F minor.
4:10 [m. 38]--As the second piano surge concludes, there is a sharp chord and a held bass note on B-flat.  The piano begins a long three-measure series of oscillating, undulating chords in triplet rhythm, the left hand closely followed by the off-beat right hand.  String arpeggios discreetly accompany this, hovering on the harmony of G-flat major.  In the third measure, the key moves again toward F.  After these three bars, the piano plays a huge arpeggio ascent, punctuated by a string chord, still in triplet rhythm and still with the right hand closely following the left.  This is capped by three powerful chords leading to an arrival on F.
4:33 [m. 42]--With the arrival on F, which now functions as the “dominant” harmony, the minor-key allusion to the main theme from 3:54 [m. 35] is heard again with the same harmonies (suggesting B-flat minor), but with even more powerful scoring.  The counterpoint formerly played in the low strings is heard in all violins with sharp tremolo, doubled by oboes, while the thematic allusion itself is in the low strings and bassoons.  There then follows another two-bar sequence of the piano’s “angry” trills and rapidly measured arpeggios.  These do not follow the same harmonic pattern as the first sequence, although the scoring and figuration is otherwise similar.  At the end, the key seems to move toward E-flat minor.
4:51 [m. 45]--Here the pattern of oscillating, undulating triplet chords from 4:10 [m. 38] is played again.  This pattern closely follows the previous one.  The held bass pedal note is on E-flat, the string arpeggios outline C-flat major, and the key moves back toward the minor version of the home key (B-flat minor).  In the third measure, the piano’s key signature even changes to indicate this.  The large arpeggio ascent follows as before with a strong arrival on B-flat, but the piano does not participate in the clinching downbeat chord.
5:15 [m. 49]--The strings hold a chord of B-flat major and the volume suddenly diminishes.  The piano again begins a rumination using the undulating triplet chords, still with the left hand leading the right.  This is now more introspective, with much sparser accompaniment.  The piano vacillates between major and minor, but the key signature for B-flat minor remains in force, only in the piano.  After two measures of this, the large arpeggio ascent is stated loudly, this time condensing it to three statements in a measure and a half.  The undulation begins again, louder this time, but it collapses into a plunging descent.
5:52 [m. 55]--The descent arrives at a full cadence in B-flat minor, where a transition begins.  The violins quietly state a measure of the main theme in minor, followed by one of the upward-winding piano arpeggios as heard at 2:31 [m. 23], played under warm low wind harmony.  The violins then play the thematic fragment even more quietly an octave lower.  With a shift in harmony, the piano plays a second winding arpeggio that reaches high and gently leads to the key of F-sharp major for the “Più Adagio” B section.  Brahms marks this second arpeggio dolce and indicates a significant slowing, ritardando molto.
B Section--Più Adagio, F-sharp major
6:30 [m. 59]--Brahms achieves an ethereal, otherworldly sound in this middle section through transparent scoring and a remote key.  In the first of two six-bar phrases, the slow harmonized melody is played by the clarinets, marked ppp and dolcissimo.  It is a long-breathed line that would provide the melody for a contemporary song (“Todessehnen,” Op. 86, no. 6).  The piano, marked molto espressivo, plays wide arpeggios in the left hand, while the right hand plays wide leaps that lean into the middle part of the bar and then follow the clarinet melody.  A pedal F-sharp in the cellos underlies the first four measures.
7:01 [m. 63]--In the fifth measure, these figures and the left hand arpeggios are shortened to fit two in the bar.  The cellos move away from the F-sharp, only to come back to it.  The sixth measure of the phrase places three right hand chords in the first half of the bar, supporting three notes in the clarinet melody.  The measure ends with a cadence figure, closing the first phrase.
7:19 [m. 65]--For the second phrase, the clarinets drop out, and the remaining strings enter.  The piano has the leading line now.  For the first two measures, the patterns resemble those of the first phrase, but in the third measure, downward leaps are introduced, with two figures in a measure.  These are reversed in the fourth measure and a descending harmony is added.  As in the first phrase, the left hand arpeggios also follow the shortened patterns.  The strings, marked ppp, play a similar role to the clarinets in the first phrase, but they are clearly subservient to the piano here.
7:53 [m. 69]--The fifth measure continues the upward leaps, with two patterns in the bar, while the final measure returns to a single wide gesture for the entire bar.  These two measures are marked ritardando, slowing to an almost glacial pace before the following transitional passage.
8:15 [m. 71]--Re-transition.  Brahms marks a return to “Tempo I,” and the solo cello returns, presenting the opening melody as at the beginning.  But the key is still F-sharp major, indicating that this is not the true return.  Nonetheless, the first four measures are essentially played unaltered in the new key.  The alteration comes with an added fifth measure, in which the sighing figure following the arresting leap in the fourth measure is reiterated..  Only after this measure does the key signature change back to two flats, indicating a motion back to B-flat, which begins at the very end of this extra bar.
8:50 [m. 76]--On the upbeat, the solo cello leaps high and works down in an arpeggio, using that arpeggio to make the key shift back to B-flat major.  The other strings join in, and the piano, absent for the F-sharp-major statement of the main theme, subtly enters with another upward-winding line in the right hand.  As the solo cello holds a long note, the piano emerges into a trill-like motion in both hands that, in measured groups, speeds up to an actual trill.  It is against this trill that the “proper” reprise in B-flat will begin.  The solo cello leads into it.
A’ Section--B-flat major
9:06 [m. 78]--Now in the home key, the solo cello continues the presentation of the main theme, but the segment from 0:28 [m. 5] is skipped.  Instead, the cello plays the consequent phrase from 0:56 [m. 9], which it did not play before.  This phrase was played by the bassoon and first violins.  The violins themselves are absent here, and the piano, which had not entered at this point before, continues with its trill, making wide leaps of a fourth and a fifth doubled in both hands.  After this decoration, the piano drops out, leaving the solo cello and low strings alone for three measures.
9:30 [m. 82]--The phrase continues as at 1:22 [m. 13], now with the solo cello continuing on the main melodic line previously played by violins.  Here, it had broken away for a high note with the oboe.  That instrument does enter with the note, but now the piano comes in with it, playing another trill that begins on the oboe’s high B-flat.  After the violas double it for a few notes, the oboe has the syncopated descent to itself.  The piano plays another trill, then breaks into a rapid, decorative seven-note arching figure in contrary motion between the hands, which expand outward.  As the cello and oboe continue with the main lines, the piano gradually moves down, alternating trills and seven-note arpeggios.
9:56 [m. 86]--The closing phrase from 1:50 [m. 17] is expanded from six to eight measures.  The first two, with the close imitation on descending arpeggios between the oboe and solo cello, are presented as they were before.  They are followed by the two-bar expansion, which continues the same idea  The flute now takes over the syncopated arpeggios from the oboe, and the solo cello breaks into two sequential six-note scale descents against them.  These are rapturous in their effect.  At the same time, the piano enters with a new series of triplet-rhythm arpeggios alternating between the hands, the right hand moving up followed by the left hand moving down.  These delicate arpeggios wonderfully complement the flute and cello lines.
10:21 [m. 90]--The closing phrase continues.  The solo cello presents both statements of the gently rocking continuation instead of echoing the oboe.  In the first, it is supported by the other strings, and in the second by the winds.  The oboe doubles and the flute plays its original upper harmony.  The piano changes its figuration, with the hands now moving continuously together, still in contrary motion.  Before the syncopated leap down and back up (in which the cello continues, joining the flute and oboe), the left hand begins to play straight duple rhythm against the right hand’s triplets.  For the figure itself, and the cello’s echo of it (supported by syncopated violins as before), both piano hands have rising harmonies.  These last two bars, with the “deceptive” cadence followed by the full arrival, slow down in preparation for the coda.
Coda--Più Adagio
10:57 [m. 94]--This point is analogous to the first piano entry at 2:31 [m. 23], and indeed the coda begins with the same two winding arpeggios.  The only changes are subtle.  The main one is that the solo cello plays a larger role, adding downward, partly chromatic steps on the 5th beat of each measure.  This necessitates some minor chromatic alterations to certain notes in the piano figures.  The second one is actually less chromatic than before.  Brahms does add new rolled chords to the left hand at the end of each figure.  From here, the remainder of the A section, beginning with the piano cadenza, is cut.
11:18 [m. 96]--The piano cadenza heard here before is replaced by a new, atmospheric cadenza-like passage based on a continuous trill.  The low strings and horns drop out.  A rolled chord leads to the trill, which becomes continuous in the top line.  The trill moves steadily up by step, and under the third note, a descending arpeggio in triplets begins, with some added colorful harmonies and one leap back up.  The triplets then dissolve into a faster upward arpeggio under the last trilled note, A to B-flat.  At the same time, the solo cello enters with a held E-flat.  This note has a fermata in both instruments.  The cellist determines how long it lasts, as the cello has a descending arpeggio before the piano’s final turn to the cadence.
11:52 [m. 98]--The fermata and the trill make this arrival extremely fulfilling.  The wind instruments enter with a held B-flat chord as the piano and cello reach it.  Then the piano plays one last harmonized upward sweep, all on the chord of B-flat major.  The strings punctuate this halfway through the penultimate measure (m. 98) and they then enter in support of the final bar, which is marked with another fermata.
12:17--END OF MOVEMENT [99 mm.]

4th Movement: Allegretto grazioso – Un poco più presto (Sonata-Rondo form with extended coda). B-FLAT MAJOR, 2/4 time.

0:00 [m. 1]--Theme 1 (Rondo Theme).  The piano begins directly with the presentation of the bouncy, initially delicate main theme.  The right hand plays it in octaves.  It is characterized by persistent dotted (long-short) rhythms.  A half-step downward turn is followed by a brief descent, and then it works upward with a rising flourish.  The second half of the phrase combines the downward turn with the rising figure.  Against this, the left hand plays widely-spaced three-note rising arpeggios, two in a bar.  All of this is heard over four gently upward- and downward-arching figures in the violas.  The theme avoids an arrival on the main key until the end, focusing initially on the “subdominant” (E-flat) and “dominant” (F) harmonies.
0:11 [m. 9]--The theme’s opening phrase is repeated by the first violins.  The other strings support with plucked harmonies.  The gently arching viola figures alternate between flute/oboe and clarinet/bassoon pairs.  The piano, meanwhile, breaks directly into light staccato arpeggios, including some two-note harmonies, switching between downward and upward motion.
0:19 [m. 17]--The contrasting phrase of the theme is first presented by the piano unaccompanied.  It begins on the upbeat, right after the conclusion of the previous phrase.  It contrasts with its narrower range and with added harmonies in the right hand, including thirds.  A closing turn is played in thirds.  The left hand accompaniment is again in wide arpeggios, but a fourth, lower note is added to them.
0:25 [m. 21]--The first violins begin a repetition of what the piano has just played, supported still by the other plucked strings.  The piano itself breaks into arching, partly harmonized arpeggios in the right hand.  After the first two bars, however, there is an extension through repetition, and the piano right hand begins to harmonize and imitate the violins, twice making large upward leaps.  A two-bar unit is repeated, then fragmented with a colorful chromatic note (D-flat), and the closing turn is avoided.
0:33 [m. 28]--The piano takes over as the violins join the rest of the plucked strings.  It further fragments the material, isolating the descending dotted rhythm.  Then it breaks into a highly atmospheric, rapid rising scale harmonized in thirds.  This scale is divided into seven-note units on each beat.  Against it, the first violins take bows again and isolate the dotted rhythm, leaping down a fourth and repeating it four times.  Flutes, oboes, and horns enter with a sustained chord against the scale.  After the scale, the piano breaks into a trill in the right hand and a sequence of four light descending arpeggios in the left, leading to the return of the opening material, which will function as a transitional bridge.
0:41 [m. 35]--Transition based on main rondo theme.  The opening of the theme appears to return again in the violins, with the piano playing its light, partially harmonized arpeggios.  But this only continues for four bars.  For the first time, there is a buildup in intensity.  The full wind section enters as the piano briefly drops out.  All strings take their bows, and the violins isolate the dotted-rhythm downward turn with the following rising figure.  Then they fragment it further, isolating only the measure with the rising figure.  All of this gradually moves up in a sequential way.
0:52 [m. 45]--The piano enters with a powerful statement based on the dotted-rhythm downward turn.  The left hand strides up in confident octaves leaping between B-flat and F.  The orchestra, led by the violins, immediately responds with the rising figure and the following closing gesture.  The piano repeats its powerful statement.  The orchestra responds again, but this time the response is changed in harmony and moves toward D minor.
1:01 [m. 53]--The rising figure and closing gesture are again stated by the orchestra with different harmony, briefly moving back home to B-flat.  Then the rising figure is twice isolated, rising higher, with the leaping bass sliding up to B-natural and then C.  The violins, supported by loud wind chords, isolate the dotted rhythm, leaping down between C and the B-natural a ninth (a step more than an octave) below.  The piano takes over with this leap in octaves between the hands, cutting off the orchestra.  After two bars, the right hand moves the same leap up a third, harmonizing with the left.  The piano rapidly diminishes in volume.  Three descending chords with quiet horn support lead to the key of A minor.
1:15 [m. 65]--Theme 2, Part 1 (First episodic theme in A minor).  The secondary and closing theme complex includes three elements.  The key signature here changes to one flat in anticipation of the second and third of these in F major, but the first and most prominent is in the unexpected key of A minor.  It is one of Brahms’s “Hungarian”-inspired melodies, with a wistful, sighing harmonized melody.  It is played initially by flutes, oboes, and bassoons.  The piano lightly accompanies with skipping chords in triplet rhythm alternating between hands and gradually moving upward.  After four measures, the strings take over from the winds.
1:25 [m. 73]--The answering phrase to the “Hungarian” theme again alternates between the woodwind and string groups, reaching a full cadence in A minor.  The piano chords are now more continuous, with the hand alternation creating the effect of 3/4 meter superimposed upon the main 2/4 heard in the thematic presentation of the winds and strings.  Each bar has a new upward-moving group of piano chords.
1:34 [m. 81]--Theme 2, Part 2 (Second episodic theme in F major).  The first closing theme is presented by the piano.  The motion to F major is direct.  It begins with a gesture in sighing chords.  The right hand then continues with an undulating triplet-rhythm harmonized in thirds.  The left hand settles on leaping octaves.  The strings lightly accompany with two-note phrases emphasizing upward half-step motion.  The second statement of the sighing chords is again followed by the triplets, this time harmonized in sixths and moving briefly back toward A minor.
1:44 [m. 89]--The clarinets present the “answering phrase.”  The first four measures closely follow the piano statement.  The leaping bass is transferred to the plucked cellos and the half-steps to the bassoon.  The closing half-phrase, however, is changed, with the sighing harmonies moving down and the following triplets (in sixths and thirds) twice pausing on the second beat, leading toward a cadence in F major.  The upper strings gradually enter, also playing pizzicato.
1:54 [m. 97]--Theme 2, Part 3 (Third episodic theme in F major).  The piano presents this lighthearted theme.  The right hand is quite high.  The theme has long downbeats and trill-like upbeats.  The left hand plays rising arpeggios against the longer notes.  The plucked strings accompany with solid downbeats and responding chords on the upbeats.  Halfway through the phrase, clarinets and horns enter with a gentle descent to mark the half-close.  The second half of the phrase adds color with a very brief hint at A major/minor.  Its close is again punctuated by clarinets and horns.
2:03 [m. 105]--As in the second episodic theme, the “answering phrase” is given to woodwinds.  Here, it is the flute and oboe.  The piano adds a new counterpoint.  It begins with two rising scale patterns harmonized mostly in thirds, doubled an octave apart in both hands.  These are in rapid triplet rhythm, as is the continuation, where the thirds give way to trill-like motion, still in triplet rhythm.  These two elements, the rising thirds and the trill-like motion, alternate a second time.  The flute/oboe statement of the melody leads to a full cadence in F major, where a piano trill in both hands leads to a cascading scale descent.
2:12 [m. 113]--The elements of Theme 2 (or the three episodic themes), having been presented, are now partially stated again in a different order, using the established keys of B-flat major, F major, and A minor.  The previous cadence leads to the first phrase of the second one, now in B-flat.  It is played by the violins, again with plucked cellos giving the mainly octave leaps in the bass.  The piano decorates the first four bars with staccato arching arpeggios, then trills leading to a half-close.  In the second part of the phrase, a flute takes the arching arpeggios, which are then passed to the piano against the violin triplets.  This phrase closely follows the F-major statement at 1:34 [m. 81], and moves toward D minor.
2:21 [m. 121]--Now the first phrase of the third episodic theme is heard, presented by the piano as at 1:54 [m. 97].  The hint of A major/minor at the end is now confirmed, as there is a full motion to A minor.  There is a new descending horn entry against the last few measures.
2:31 [m. 129]--Unexpectedly, but naturally, the first episodic theme is presented again in its original key of A minor.  The original wind instruments do play it, but now they dovetail every measure with the piano, which takes over and then passes back to the winds.  Piano arpeggios that accompany the winds lead seamlessly into the piano’s portions of the melody.  This pattern  is used for the first phrase from 1:15 [m. 65].  Plucked cellos and basses punctuate the downbeats.
2:40 [m. 137]--The answering phrase more closely follows its presentation at 1:25 [m. 73].  The piano in particular follows its previous pattern with alternating hands suggesting a superimposed 3/4 meter.  The major difference is that now the strings present the entire phrase rather than the woodwinds playing the first part.
2:50 [m. 145]--The second episodic theme follows again, now in its original key of F major.   Since the first phrase was played at 2:12 [m. 113], the second phrase is now given by its original instruments, the clarinets, as at 1:44 [m. 89].  After the first four bars, however, a new element is introduced.  Very quietly (ppp), the violins and violas, in syncopation off the beat, play the motion to the cadence in F major.  This alteration to the end of the phrase serves to introduce the transition back to the main (rondo) theme.
3:00 [m. 153]--Transition.  The plucked strings, beginning with the cellos and moving through violas, second and first violins, repeatedly play the fifth F-C against a held F-major chord in clarinets, horns, and oboes.  The piano left hand then takes up this constantly rising fifth while its right hand plays two short two-note descending figures off the beat, followed by a longer plunge.  The entire pattern is then repeated on the fifth D-A against a D-major chord (with mild hints at D minor in the right hand figures).
3:09 [m. 161]--The strings hold a “diminished seventh” chord, using that flexible harmony to move back toward the E-flat harmony that opens the main rondo theme.  The piano continues with similar figuration using the descending plunge, also on this harmony.  After two bars, the violins anticipate the undulating motion of the main theme, but without the dotted rhythm as the piano isolates shorter figures.  This leads back to a welcome return of the rondo theme’s opening phrase.
3:14 [m. 165]--Theme 1 makes a return to close off the exposition and initiate the development section, as is typical in a sonata-rondo hybrid form.  This time, it is given a new and fresh scoring, with the oboe playing the main melody.  The piano magically combines its original left hand line from the beginning with right hand figures that continue the pattern of the previous transition.  The violas play their original arching counterpoint.  The other strings join, but they are plucked, the first violins partially outlining the theme.  Only the opening phrase is played as a return.
3:21 [m. 173]--First section.  The piano emerges from the oboe statement with a descending arpeggio on the upbeat.  The key shifts down a step to A-flat major.  There, the cellos begin a variant of the main rondo theme that focuses on the descending line in dotted rhythm.  The first violins play a fresh new counter-melody that features a prominent upward leap at the end.  The piano, meanwhile, continues its established figuration, incorporating both upward and downward motion.  After four measures, it takes over for the violins and cellos, providing a continuation that isolates a rising flourish from the theme and adds strong syncopation across the bar line.  This surges, then tumbles toward the next statement.
3:32 [m. 181]--The key makes another abrupt shift, this time to the remote E major.  Here, the statement just heard is repeated with the violins and cellos exchanging their parts, the cellos now taking the new counter-melody.  The piano continuation begins as before, with different harmonization, but just before the last measure it introduces a cross-grouping over the bar line and erupts into an upward-shooting arpeggio with three fast triplets in the right hand.  These lead toward C major.
3:41 [m. 189]--The piano cuts off and the orchestra takes over alone with the entry of the wind instruments.  Beginning in C major, there is a passage that starts with the head motive of the main rondo theme, then devolves into a sequence based on the descending line in dotted rhythm.  This descending line is repeated up a half-step.  It then begins up another half-step, but quickly breaks off before shifting up yet again and continuing down as expected.  The accents are placed in a way that feels syncopated, and the strong entries of the wind instruments right before the bar lines increase this feeling.  This last descent has arrived on the unison note A-sharp.  Still in unison, the instruments powerfully leap up to G and back down to A-sharp.
3:54 [m. 202]--The A-sharp is the “leading note” in the key of B minor, and in that key, the piano jumps in with sudden force, playing a series of ascending broken chords with triplets in the right hand and straight rhythm in the left.  These lead to a half-close a fifth higher, in F-sharp minor.  The strings accompany lightly.  There then follows a rising sequence based on the opening dotted rhythm of the rondo theme, with the figure moving up by half-step in the right hand.  The left hand plays arching arpeggios.  Horns and cellos lightly support before clarinets and violas enter.  The passage is lyrical, but intense.  It leads back to B minor, and the piano plays a rising arpeggio in slow triplets to close it off.
4:08 [m. 212]--The orchestra drops out, and the piano alone returns to the long-absent contrasting phrase of the main rondo theme as heard at 0:19 [m. 17].  It is transformed into a wistful version in B minor.  After the first four measures, it develops into a cadenza-like extension.  This isolates the closing turn and changes it to both down-up and continuously descending motion.  The right hand is harmonized mostly in sixths, but also in thirds and fourths.  The left hand accompaniment incorporates the familiar arching motion along with triplet arpeggios.  The mini-cadenza remains in B minor for some time, but moves toward D minor and closes with a briefly-slowing left-hand arpeggio outlining a colorful “diminished seventh” chord.
4:30 [m. 228]--Second section.  Brahms places a “caesura,” or full break, before the upbeat of m. 227.  The piano then resumes the figuration as heard in the preceding “mini-cadenza.”  It is interrupted by the orchestra, which asserts the dotted-rhythm descending line used through much of the development section thus far.  There is then another alternation between the “mini-cadenza” material in the piano and the descending line in the orchestra.  The entire passage is in D minor.  The orchestra lands on a unison C-sharp, the “leading tone,” and plays the powerful leap up and back down as heard before 3:54 [m. 202].
4:42 [m. 238]--As at 3:54 [m. 202], the piano plays the forceful broken chords, now in D minor leading to a half-close in A minor.  The rising sequence also follows, leading back to D minor as expected, with a slight change in scoring at the point of the rising slow-triplet arpeggio, where the upper strings all enter.  There is then a second arpeggio on the “dominant” chord in D minor, which Brahms marks with a slight slowing.  Then, in the briefest of re-transitions, the piano re-harmonizes its upper note and the left hand leaps down to a low F, the “dominant” note in the home key of B-flat major.  This quietly intense, atmospheric chord is held, creating great anticipatory tension.
5:03 [m. 252]--Brahms marks another “caesura” before the upbeat of m. 251.  This pause prepares the recapitulation in the home key of B-flat major.  Because of its use throughout the development, and because of its opening on the “subdominant” E-flat harmony, Brahms omits the first phrase of the main rondo theme and its repetition.  He opens with the contrasting phrase from 0:19 [m. 17], which has just been used as the basis for the “mini-cadenza.”  Its first part is played by the piano alone exactly as in its first appearance.  The only difference is a new marking of dolce.
5:09 [m. 256]--Violin repetition, extension, and fragmentation of phrase with piano arpeggios, harmonization, and imitation, as at 0:25 [m. 21].
5:18 [m. 263]--The continuing piano fragmentation follows as at 0:33 [m. 28].  The atmospheric scale in thirds follows as expected, bit it is now more complex and difficult.  Brahms has the right hand play the scale in thirds by itself, where the left hand played the lower third before.  The left hand is given a new rising and zigzagging line in fourths and fifths, played in groups of six that clash with the seven-note groups in the scale.  These groups of six are also used under the trill for the descending arpeggio, which now has eight three-note descents instead of four four-note descents during the two measures of the trill.  The orchestral material, including the leaping violins, is unchanged.
5:27 [m. 270]--Transition based on main rondo theme with buildup in intensity, as at 0:41 [m. 35].
5:37 [m. 280]--An unexpected insertion is heard here.  It is based on the rising flourish from the first phrase of the theme.  The piano repeats the flourish four times, with the left hand leaping up or down an octave between each one.  The last of these shifts its final two notes upward, leading to an orchestral interruption that is a restatement of its last measure before the interruption, moved up a half-step.  The piano takes up repetitions of the rising figure again, stating it seven times, again with the left hand leaping between them.  The first two notes of each are unchanged, but the last two gradually shift upward after each pair, beginning with the second and third of them.  An eighth figure is a higher-reaching arpeggio that ends the insertion.
5:44 [m. 287]--Analogous to 0:52 [m. 45].  The piano’s powerful statements are similar, especially in the bass, which still strides between B-flat and F.  The right hand, however, is a third higher and suggests a shift to minor, still on B-flat.  This is confirmed by the orchestral response, which replaces the rising figure with a zigzagging one.  The repetition follows as expected, and the orchestral response again emphasizes B-flat minor and its relative major, D-flat.
5:53 [m. 295]--Analogous to 1:01 [m. 53].  The restatement of the rising (now zigzagging) figure and closing gesture is omitted.  The figure is twice isolated, now moving in a downward direction, and the leaping bass slides from G-flat to G to A-flat.  The leaping violins on the dotted rhythm jump down from A-flat to the G a ninth below.  The piano takeover adds two measures, repeating the violin leaps before moving to its original condensed leaps.  Instead of the right hand moving up a third after two bars, both hands move up a half-step.  The descending chords with horn support follow, but they are unexpectedly extended two bars, with one chord in each, leading to D minor.
6:10 [m. 309]--Theme 2, Part 1 (First episodic theme in D minor).  This presentation closely follows its analogous original statement in A minor at 1:15 [m. 63].  D minor has the same relationship to the home key of B-flat as A minor did to F major, where the other subsidiary themes were heard.  The piano figuration, with the alternating, skipping chords in triplet rhythm, is similar.  The major difference is that the first four measures of the harmonized melody are played by the strings, and the next four are taken by the woodwinds, reversing the process from the exposition.  Clarinets also replace flutes in the wind section.
6:19 [m. 317]--Answering phrase, analogous to 1:25 [m. 73].  The piano again has the continuous figures creating the effect of a superimposed 3/4.  As in the first phrase, the strings begin and the winds follow, reversed from the exposition.  It leads to a full cadence in D minor.
6:29 [m. 325]--The second episodic theme with the sighing gestures and undulating triplets is omitted at this point.  It is replaced by a new transition in the piano, derived from a leaping gesture at the end of the first episodic theme.  This leaping gesture takes on an almost martial character, with powerful syncopated right hand chords and large leaps from bass notes to chords in the left hand.  The chords are punctuated by trill-like gestures derived from the third episodic theme.  After the first four measures, the chords start again, but this time the trill-like figures are replaced by another leap and then a gentle descent, moving the key from D minor home to B-flat.  The whole passage is accompanied by plucked string chords.
6:39 [m. 333]--Theme 2, Part 3 (Third episodic theme in B-flat major).  It is only given one phrase, as opposed to its three different phrases in the exposition.  It is scored like the answering phrase at 2:03 [m. 105].  Brahms employs the piccolo instead of the regular flute for an exceedingly joyous effect.  The decorative piano figures from that statement are also given, the triplet scales harmonized in thirds and then the trill-like figuration.  The musical direction, however, follows the statement at 2:21 [m. 121], leading into the restatement of the first episodic theme and a return to D minor.  The piano’s trill-like figures slow down to a descending arpeggio in straight rhythm in both hands.
6:49 [m. 341]--Return of first episodic theme, analogous to 2:31 [m. 129].  The dovetailing effect previously heard between the piano and winds is preserved, but here the strings replace the winds.  The answering phrase is omitted in favor of a four-bar extension that continues the dovetailing effect and moves downward, diminishing in volume.
7:06 [m. 353]--Transition to Coda.  The second episodic theme, absent to this point in the recapitulation, is now used to close it off.  Shifting abruptly back to B-flat, the clarinets begin to present it, as they originally did in the answering phrase, with the leaping bass in plucked cellos.  But then the triplets are unexpectedly taken over by the oboe in a single line, turning to the “relative” G minor, supported by violins and violas.  The clarinets enter again with the sighing gestures, now in G minor, and the piccolo joins the oboe on the triplet response, which is a fourth lower, the violins and violas again providing support.
7:16 [m. 360]--Unexpectedly, the piano emerges into the atmospheric scale in thirds, played with the new zigzagging left hand line as it was during the passage at 5:18 [m. 263].  But now its two measures, each of which covers two octaves, are interrupted by a trill in both hands.  This trill also follows the second measure of the scale.  The only orchestral support is an octave in the horns.  Following the second trill, the piano hovers on a series of arpeggios in contrary motion, grouped so that there is a syncopated emphasis on the second note in each group of four sixteenth notes.  The cellos, then violas rise against the piano figures in slow leaps.  D major is suggested, leading toward G minor or major.
7:27 [m. 369]--An artful harmonic pivot leads to harmony on E-flat, which is of course associated with the beginning of the main rondo theme.  Bassoons and horns present a skeletal, but recognizable version of its opening figure, without the dotted rhythm.  The piano plays delicate and tender arpeggios in alternating contrary motion against it.  The violas and cellos then take over the continuation of the rondo theme without the dotted rhythm, the piano arpeggios coming together in three-note cross-rhythms.  The alternation, including the piano arpeggios, is repeated a second time as the basic outline of the theme’s first phrase is completed.  This leads suddenly and directly into the new tempo for the extended coda.
CODA – Un poco più presto
7:37 [m. 377]--First section.  On its own and in the suddenly faster tempo, the piano launches into a skittish version of the main rondo theme in triplets, whose persistence suggests an actual shift to 6/8 time (which is not indicated).  Rapid rolled chords in the left hand are followed by right hand responses in octaves, often moving in scale patterns.  The first phrase and the contrasting phrase are clearly recognizable, the latter following directly upon the former.  In the contrasting phrase, plucked strings enter as a punctuation after four bars, and the outline of its original extension is even clear, though shortened by one bar.  The volume builds, and the passage culminates on a hammered descending fourth.
7:55 [m. 398]--The full orchestra suddenly enters on the hammered descending fourth, the piano moving to rolled chords in both hands.  At the same time, the harmony abruptly shifts to D major for four measures of this hammering, the piano dropping out after two of them.  The harmonic shift also matches the original theme.  A sweeping violin scale leads to G major, where the next section begins.
7:58 [m. 402]--Second section.  In G major, the orchestra briefly abandons the triplet rhythm and implied 6/8 time and returns to the theme’s familiar dotted rhythm, marching powerfully down the scale before again emerging again into the hammered descending fourth.  Another sweeping violin scale, with a subtle downward turn, leads to E-flat major, where the entire sequence is heard again with a four-measure extension on the hammered fourth.  The piano is absent for this entire passage.
8:15 [m. 422]--The piano now enters powerfully, taking over the triplets in octaves and converting the descending fourth to a third.  This third is obsessively repeated for seven straight measures, under which the strings and bassoons hold harmonies, then gradually expand outward with the bass instruments descending by half-step and the violins also rising mostly by half-step.  After the obsessive seven measures, the piano triplets slide upward, arriving on F, which will serve as the “dominant” to re-establish the home key of B-flat.  The piano octaves now tumble downward to underscore this arrival.  Through the whole passage, the volume diminishes, then swells and recedes again at the upward slide.
8:23 [m. 432]--Third section.  Definitively in the home key, the low strings play the opening turn and descending line from the main theme.  The descending line is immediately imitated one measure later by the violins and violas, and a measure after that by flute and clarinet. Meanwhile, the piano continues the triplet rhythm, alternating highly decorative broken octaves and harmonies (mainly thirds) in contrary motion between the hands.  The imitation sequence is then repeated with the same instruments, minus the opening turn in the low strings and with the first notes of the descending line moved up a half-step.
8:30 [m. 440]--The entire sequence from 8:23 [m. 432] is repeated with slight variation.  The entries are reversed, but the first statement of the opening motive and descending line originally played by low strings is played by the oboe instead of flute and clarinet.  Imitation by violins and violas, then low strings follows.  The piano figuration reverses the order of the hands, so that the right hand leads the left.  In the repetition, the flutes and clarinets, now with lower harmony, replace the oboe.
8:37 [m. 448]--Fourth section.  The violas and cellos isolate the opening dotted-rhythm turn of the theme as the piano continues its triplet figuration in alternating contrary motion between the hands.  After two measures, the violas and cellos use the rhythm to slide up four half-steps before settling on a held A.  The volume builds. 
8:41 [m. 452]--The piano emerges into a new bell-like pattern alternating “outer” thirds and seconds with “inner” single notes, the hands still in contrary motion.  The horns enter on the rhythm with a repeated F against the held viola/cello A.  Those instruments, still on the dotted rhythm, move up to a held C, against which the horns again pulse on F.  Violas and cellos begin the pattern once more, then slowly rise with a double-dotted (longer first note) rhythm, the horns adding shorter pulses on the long notes, as the piano continues its bell sounds.  Everything abruptly cuts off with a very brief pause for breath, leaving hanging the harmony of D minor and its “leading tone.”
8:47 [m. 460]--Fifth section.  The piano plays an upward sweeping arpeggio reminiscent of the theme’s rising flourish.  The theme itself begins again in the full orchestra.  It is interrupted after the descending line by a repetition of the piano arpeggio, which the violins join at the end.  The orchestra begins again, extending the opening half-step turn before descending.  The piano now plays two shorter arpeggios punctuated by full orchestral chords that mark a powerful, definitive cadence on B-flat.
8:58 [m. 472]--Sixth (final) section.  At the cadence, the piano rings out forceful octaves, leaping down a ninth and supported by wind chords.  After two measures, the strings imitate these.  Before they can finish, the piano sweeps upward in an arpeggio.  This continues, moving down and up in wave-like motion, as the first violins use the dotted rhythm to circle around the key note B-flat.  The other strings slide down by half-step.  The winds enter and join the strings on chords against the piano’s continuing wave-like arpeggios.  The top line of these slower chords again circles around B-flat as the bass again slides down.
9:10 [m. 484]--The piano’s wave motion cuts off.  Two sweeping arpeggios, each with nine rapid notes in both hands, rise up the full length of the keyboard against held B-flat chords in the orchestra.  After the second of these arpeggios reaches its closing chord, the piano and orchestra punctuate it with another short chord.  This prepares the final held chord, which brings this massive concerto to its close.
9:29--END OF MOVEMENT [488 mm.]