Recording: Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Claudio Abbado [DG 435 683-2]
Published 1884.  Dedicated to “his dearly beloved” Hans von Bülow “in true friendship” January 8, 1890.

Six years had elapsed since the Second Symphony when Brahms embarked on his Third in Wiesbaden on the Rhine.  In the interim, he had not neglected the orchestra.  He wrote the first two of his mature concertos, both supreme masterpieces.  He also composed both concert overtures and his last two choral/orchestral works.  When he began the Third, he was 50 years old and at the pinnacle of his creative power.  The symphony is different from the other three in several significant ways.  By far the shortest of the four, it is also the most densely and carefully organized.  It is his only “cyclic” symphony, with material from not one, but two previous movements playing a major role in the finale.  This was not the first or last time he used cyclic techniques.  The First Violin Sonata uses the main theme of its slow movement for the extensive central episode of its finale.  The final variation movements of the Third String Quartet and the late Clarinet Quintet bring back material from their opening movements at the end, and the closing of the German Requiem does so in a way that anticipates the process in this symphony, but none of those examples is as subtly inevitable as the closing measures of this finale.  The Third is tonally the most complex of the four.  Brahms identified it as a major-key work, but from the outset, the conflict between major and minor is established as the symphony’s most overriding musical narrative.  The pitches that define F major or F minor--A-flat and A-natural--are in constant competition.  This is immediately established in the pervasive opening “motto,” which uses not the A-natural of major, but the A-flat of minor.  A-natural then attempts to assert itself in the actual main theme.  The F-A(-flat)-F of the motto supposedly refers to Brahms’s personal cypher, “Frei aber froh” (“Free but happy”), a play on that of his professional colleague and personal friend Joseph Joachim, which was famously F-A-E, “Frei aber einsam” (“Free but lonely”).  The keys of A and A-flat even play major structural roles.  A major is the unexpected key of the first movement’s second theme, and A-flat is the key center of the third movement’s middle section, for example.  The key of C, the important “dominant” in F major or minor, is unusually used for both middle movements, major in the second and minor in the third.  And the agitated but noble finale is explicitly and seemingly irrevocably in F minor, so when major finally shines through at the end, it is a well-earned victory.  Such a structure, with “major” first two movements and “minor” last two in a mirror-like arrangement, was also a novelty.  The symphony is virtuosic in terms of rhythm and meter, especially in the first movement, whose 6/4 often wants to be 3/2, and in the middle section of the third movement, whose meter is completely obscured.  The second movement frequently puts undue emphasis on the last beat of the notated measure.  The symphony’s brevity is primarily due to the development sections of movements 1, 2, and 4, all of which are strikingly short in comparison to their other major sections.  Besides the “motto,” the first movement is known for its heroic main theme, causing the symphony to be compared to another “Third” as “Brahms’s ‘Eroica.’”  The theme is not entirely original.  It quotes almost exactly a rather obscure moment in the first movement of Robert Schumann’s “Rhenish” Symphony (yet another Third!) and may be a subtle tribute to his long-departed mentor.  Neither of the middle movements is particularly “slow,” yet the third movement, the scherzo “substitute,” is more reserved and subdued than those of the first two symphonies, and the only one in a minor key.  This movement is one of the most frequently encountered pieces by Brahms in popular culture.  “Heroic” or not, one of this symphony’s most famous aspects is that all four movements end quietly, and the finale must do so for its incredibly unique and brilliant narrative to work.  This has always created a conundrum for conductors and concert programmers and is no doubt responsible for the unfortunate fact that until recently, the Third has always easily been the least performed Brahms symphony.

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

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

1st Movement: Allegro con brio (Sonata-Allegro form).  F MAJOR, 6/4 time, with two passages (of 13 and 9 measures) in 9/4 time.

0:00 [m. 1]--Theme 1.  The F--A-flat--F figure, the most important motto of the symphony, is immediately blasted out in full measures from the woodwinds and high brass.  The chord under F is major, and under A-flat, it is a dissonant “diminished seventh.”  As these instruments reach up to the top F, the theme proper begins in the violins.  It consists of two sweeping descents that suggest 3/2 as much as 6/4.  It is marked passionato, played over pulsing cellos and syncopated violas.  The “motto instruments” drop out while trombones and timpani enter in support of the strings.  The lowest instruments again outline the F--A-flat--F figure.  The second downward sweep moves to minor as the top F is underpinned by a chord on D-flat. 
0:13 [m. 7]--Moving quickly back to major, the violins continue, introducing a four-note rising figure that propels the music upward.  A new, extremely important motive is heard in clarinets, bassoons, and horns.  It resembles the F--A-flat--F motto, but adds a leap down to a fourth note, the natural version of the middle note.  It is first played on C--E-flat--C--E-natural, but a second statement that adds flutes, oboes, and trumpets brings it “home” to F--A-flat--F--A-natural as the violins use the three-note figure to reach higher.
0:22 [m. 11]--Despite the major-minor mixture, the presentation thus far has been extremely exciting and heroic.  Now the violins, still using rhythms from the previous passage, plunge downward against syncopated chords from the lower strings and the winds.  These include a version of the “motto” starting on B-flat, but with the downward leap moving to E, the “leading tone” in F major.  The woodwinds answer with their own descent on F--A, helping the violins reach a full F-major cadence.  This is reiterated at a lower level emphasizing the third of the chord, A.  The passionate intensity rapidly settles down.
0:32 [m. 15]--Transition.  With syncopation in second violins and violas, the flutes and clarinets, supported by bassoons and string basses, pipe out three F’s.  The first violins and cellos, supported by horns, answer with repeated A’s that then rise.  The pattern is repeated up in sequence, then the first violins continue with a rising line in dotted rhythm culminating in a rapid turn and descent.  After a wind chord on the downbeat, the first violins play a rising arpeggio in triplets.  This sets up a second such chord and arpeggio that lead to another F-major cadence punctuated by trombones, played over the “motto” beginning on A in the bass.
0:47 [m. 21]--At the cadence, the woodwinds and high brass, along with first violins, again play the harmonized F--A-flat--F motto, punctuated by triplet arpeggios in cellos and second violins against continuously pulsating violas.  The A-flat now underpins a natural motion of harmony based on that note toward the key of D-flat major.
0:51 [m. 23]--The transition passage from 0:32 [m. 15] is stated in the key of D-flat major.  Now the first violins play the leading repeated notes and the woodwinds take the actual melodic material with the rising line.  The second violins and violas subtly abandon their syncopation, with the cellos and basses becoming less active.  The entire statement is much quieter than the one in F major.  The rapid turn and descent are magically taken by the clarinet in this statement, marked dolce.  The sequence of arpeggios is now in “straight” rhythm instead of triplets, and it is passed from cellos to violas to first violins.  They arrive at a full cadence on D-flat.
1:07 [m. 29]--In a very artful key change (“enharmonic modulation”), Brahms moves from D-flat to the “dominant” harmony in A major.  It is done over undulating violins and violas with the “motto” in the high woodwinds.  It begins on D-flat, but it is re-spelled as C-sharp, then moves to E.  At the same time, the A-flat in the undulations is re-spelled as G-sharp, the third of the “dominant” chord on E (which leads to the goal, A major).  Against the first note of the “motto,” there is a rising bassoon arpeggio in D-flat, and this is then taken by a flute on the E “dominant” chord, leading into the new key.
1:12 [m. 31]--The three-sharp key signature for A major indicates an arrival on that key, which coincides with the third note of the “motto” on the high C-sharp.  A variant of the transitional passage follows, with the strings playing chords in mild syncopation with active violas, followed by rising arpeggios with minor-key inflections in the woodwinds.  The string chords are stated at a lower level, with a plunging bass, then the woodwind arpeggio is slowed down to lead into the second theme.  Bassoon and clarinet lead the flute.
1:26 [m. 36]--Theme 2 (A major).  The time signature changes to a very supple 9/4.  After the low strings play a plucked downbeat, a solo clarinet presents the smooth, but slippery melody, accompanied by a lovely bassoon counterpoint.  Both instruments are marked mezza voce and grazioso.  The first three bars begin similarly, but with subtle changes.  The first measure begins off the beat.  The downbeat is filled in the second measure, and the clarinet melody is embellished at the end.  The quieter third measure begins with a longer note.  The fourth measure becomes active and leads to a gentle cadence.  Plucked low strings and a chirping flute accompany throughout, not moving off the notes A and E.
1:42 [m. 40]--The theme is now stated with full instrumentation.  The melody is taken by oboe and violas (both marked mezza voce and grazioso, parallel to the clarinet statement).  The clarinet now joins the bassoon on a more active counterpoint.  The “chirping” interjections previously played by the flute are now in the first violins.  The flute, entering with an embellishment, takes over for the oboe four beats into the third measure.  Its embellishment is echoed by the clarinet, which briefly breaks from the bassoon.  The violas continue to double the melody throughout.  The cadence is marked by a new sixteenth-note “hiccup” in the melody.
1:57 [m. 44]--The theme is now given an cheerful answering phrase led by the woodwinds.  Like the main phrase, it begins off the beat.  It makes a shift to C-sharp major.  The oboe takes over with a downward-winding line like the embellishments in the main phrase.  The pattern is immediately repeated a step lower, in B major, with the clarinet taking the downward-winding line.  Then flutes and oboes, alternating with clarinets and bassoons, play four groups of two chords leading back to A major, cutting off with a highly expectant, unresolved harmony.  The entire passage is accompanied and punctuated by plucked strings.
2:08 [m. 47]--The strings alone, without basses, play a version of Theme 2 that is an approximate inversion, with the overall direction changed to a descent.  This leads to a cadence in A that is interrupted by the following transition.
2:17 [m. 49]--Transition to Closing Material.  The meter changes back to 6/4 at this point, and a version of the motto beginning on A is played by the principal oboe over a soft bassoon and string background.  This version of the motto, however, leaps down not to the raised third, but to the “leading tone” of the “dominant” key.  Following this motto statement, the flute, then clarinet, then bassoon play a fast descending arpeggio that begins on the last beat of the measure (beat 6) or the third beat, obscuring the meter.  Against the bassoon arpeggio, the oboe plays a rising figure.  The arpeggio is passed to the clarinet a second time.  Rising arpeggios in the cellos and second bassoon support the metric displacement, as do plucked upper strings.
2:26 [m. 53]--The displacement, with groups beginning on the last beat of the measure, continues.  Flutes and oboes take up the slower rising arpeggios, while both clarinets and both bassoons continue to pass the faster descending ones.  The rising arpeggios are then passed back to low strings while the flutes and oboes play chords emphasizing the displaced meter.
2:33 [m. 56]--Flutes and clarinets now play the descending arpeggios together, joined after a measure by bassoons.  At the point where the bassoons join, the arpeggios are shortened from three beats to two beats, creating an implied 3/2 within the already displaced 6/4.  An urgent rising figure in the violins confirms this implied 3/2.  At the same time, there is a distinct change from major to minor and a buildup in volume.  After two of these displaced implied 3/2 groups, an “extra” beat is added at the end to restore the downbeat where it belongs.
2:40 [m. 59]--At the climax, with the restored meter, the violins and violas rapidly pass down a hammered descending third, which changes in the second measure to a descending second.  Both measures are punctuated by chords on the downbeats.  In the last beat of the second measure, with the beginning of the closing theme, the meter is disrupted yet again.
2:45 [m. 61]--Closing Theme (A minor).  Flutes, bassoons, and violins play the melancholy, passionate melody, which is in groups of three beats beginning on beat 6 and beat 3, again displacing the meter a beat ahead of the bar line.  Against them, clarinet and horns play rapidly rising and falling statements of the “motto” beginning on A.  The motto is also suggested in the arpeggios of the melody itself.  Low strings play slower arpeggios that support the displaced meter.  After two measures, the melody breaks into descending arpeggios, and then, again beginning on beat 6, the violins begin a sweeping rising scale in triplets that becomes fully chromatic.  The rhythmic complexity is helped by a held chord on the downbeat.
2:54 [m. 65]--All woodwinds in unison now play the closing theme, which still begins on the last beat of the measure.  Now the strings add a new and powerful counterpoint with strong, leaping arpeggios, heavily influenced by the motto, played in contrary motion between violins and cellos.  This counterpoint even further emphasizes the displaced meter.  As before, the theme breaks into descending arpeggios, and the sweeping rising scale in triplets is now played by the woodwinds.  This time, however, it is repeated by the violins and violas.  Each group plays the held chord against the other.
3:05 [m. 70]--The violins play a descending arpeggio that “fills in” the motto.  It begins with a held note across the bar line.  The cellos and basses play in contrary motion against it.  The winds support it with chords.  The next measure (m. 71a) is the first measure of the first ending.  In it, the arpeggio begins a third higher, but the second half of it eliminates an expected held note and adds an extra note to (finally) restore the meter.  The second measure of the first ending (m. 72a) consists of a rising third, A to C in the strings, which implies the “motto.”  But instead of rising to a higher A, the repeat of the exposition begins on F, thus emphasizing the important relationship between F and A (or A-flat).  This element is lost if the exposition repeat is not taken.
3:12 [m. 1]--Theme 1.  Brass and wind motto, then sweeping descents, as at the beginning.
3:26 [m. 7]--New four-note rising figure and four-note version of the motto, as at 0:13.
3:35 [m. 11]--String descent to F-major cadence against “motto” chords in winds, as at 0:22.
3:46 [m. 15]--Transition.  Repeated F’s, rising sequence, and triplet arpeggios, as at 0:32
4:01 [m. 21]--Motto above triplet arpeggios leading to D-flat major, as at 0:47.
4:05 [m. 23]--Transition passage restated in D-flat major, as at 0:51.
4:20 [m. 29]--Artful motion to A major using motto, as at 1:07.
4:25 [m. 31]--Variant of transitional passage leading to Theme 2, as at 1:12.
4:40 [m. 36]--Theme 2 (A major).  Change to 9/4 time and clarinet presentation of melody, as at 1:26.
4:55 [m. 40]--Statement of Theme 2 melody with full instrumentation, as at 1:42.
5:10 [m. 44]--Cheerful answering phrase moving through C-sharp major and B major, as at 1:57.
5:20 [m. 47]--Approximate inversion of Theme 2 in strings, as at 2:08.
5:29 [m. 49]--Transition to Closing Material.  Change back to 6/4, motto, and metric displacement with descending arpeggios, as at 2:17.
5:39 [m. 53]--Continuation of metric displacement with different instruments taking arpeggios, as at 2:26.
5:45 [m. 56]--Continuation with shorter arpeggios creating implied 3/2 meter over displaced 6/4, change to minor, buildup, and “extra” beat to restore downbeat, as at 2:33.
5:52 [m. 59]--Climax with descending hammered third and second, as at 2:40.
5:56 [m. 61]--Closing Theme (A minor).  Melancholy melody displaced a beat ahead of the measure, then descending arpeggios and sweeping rising scale in triplet rhythm, as at 2:45.
6:05 [m. 65]--Wind statement with added string counterpoint and repetition of sweeping scale, as at 2:54.
6:16 [m. 70]--Transition to Development.  The initial measure before the first ending as heard at 3:05 leads into the second ending [m. 71b].  Unlike the corresponding measure of the first ending, this one does not add the extra note to restore the meter.  The two-measure descending arpeggio pattern from the first ending is given twice more, with the harmony moving through D major and C minor.  The intensity builds with a motion to the “dominant” of C-sharp minor.  Finally, an extra arpeggio is added.  It is like the previous one, but it begins a third higher, adding the “extra” note at the beginning, as it were.  This arpeggio thus mercifully restores the downbeat and the meter for the development section.
6:31 [m. 77]--Continuing the agitated energy, the development section begins in C-sharp minor using Theme 2.  It is transformed from its 9/4 version into the prevailing 6/4 by the insertion of an “extra” sighing gesture before the melody’s characteristic “turn,” but it is still recognizable.  The low strings and bassoons, against pulsing violins, play the new version of the second theme.  After two rising similar phrases, the strings break into a churning up-down motion for two measures.
6:43 [m. 83]--The first violins now take over the new 6/4 version of Theme 2 with the cellos adding a new counterpoint and the winds adding off-beat interjections.  The two rising phrases are heard as before, followed by the churning up-down motion.  This is extended by a third measure, which moves the key away from C-sharp minor.
6:58 [m. 90]--The woodwinds begin the “cheerful answering phrase” heard at 1:57 and 5:10 [m. 44].  It is also transformed to 6/4 and is very dynamic, rapidly changing keys.  The upbeat to the gesture sounds as if it is in E major, but this is quickly wrenched up to A major for the actual presentation of the phrase.  The downward-winding line follows, but it is highly unstable, with an ominous new line in the low strings.  The fragment of the phrase then shifts key again up the circle of fifths, to D major.
7:06 [m. 94]--Another shift up the circle of fifths brings the phrase to G major, but here it stalls and lingers, with the initial gesture passed from the flutes and clarinets to the oboes.  The mood and volume settle down and become much quieter.  An arching figure emerges under the oboes, still in G major.  It is passed between the violas and individual woodwinds.  This gesture is repeated five times in quick succession.  The strings then move down by half-step in quiet, halting figures, away from G major.  A mild swell at the end of this motion heralds the arrival of E-flat major, a somewhat distant key.
7:27 [m. 101]--The key signature changes to one flat, but we are in E-flat major.  The principal horn warmly emerges into the “motto,” played on the notes G--B-flat--G against a radiant backdrop of syncopated strings.  For the first time, the motto is extended and becomes an actual melody, the horn adding a new descending line.  This is a magical moment.  As the horn reaches its cadence, it is interrupted by a new statement of the motto with its melody, now doubled by the oboe.  This statement is on B-flat--D-flat--B-flat and moves the key to G-flat major, but the cadence is again interrupted.
7:51 [m. 109]--In a three-measure extension to the melodic statements of the motto, the horns again take the lead and move the key center back to E-flat as the strings continue to pulse, then slow down.  The passage is marked “poco rit.,” slowing toward the next passage, which is marked “Un poco sostenuto.”
8:04 [m. 112]--Re-transition.  In a very mysterious moment, the low strings and bassoons play a skeletal version of Theme 1 without any accompaniment.  It begins at the cadence and turns to minor (E-flat minor).  Oboes and clarinets join after one measure, then flutes and the upper strings.  The main descending gesture of the theme continues over the course of four measures and without anything establishing a true 6/4 pulse, this version of the theme now really does sound as if it is in 3/2 meter.
8:23 [m. 116]--The dotted rhythm of the theme now becomes continuous in the winds as the strings begin to pulse steadily on the beat, without syncopation.  The low strings take over the dotted rhythm in the second measure, then pass it back. The key shifts to B-flat minor after two measures, with a low held F established in the low strings, supported by a timpani roll.  The volume suddenly builds over this, and the tempo slows even more.  Clearly an arrival is coming, but it seems as if the low F is functioning as a preparatory “dominant” in the key of B-flat, not as the home keynote for the arrival of the recapitulation.
8:44 [m. 120]--The arrival is an unusually dramatic and convulsive eruption.  Not only does F strangely function as the home key without the usual “dominant” preparation at the end of the development, but both the meter and the tempo are restored.  Perhaps because of this, the motto is stretched out to four bars, with two statements of the initial F--A-flat over different chords.  This incorporates a full but brief motion to D-flat major on the third chord before the expected “diminished seventh” on the fourth one.  There are added string echoes after the first two chords.  The restoration of the main tempo works best if one beat of implied 3/2 (a third of the measure) at the end of the development equals a half-measure in the “restored” 6/4.
8:54 [m. 124]--From here, after the extended motto statement, the presentation of Theme 1 matches the exposition.  The two sweeping descents are played as at the beginning and in the exposition repeat.
9:02 [m. 128]--Four-note rising figure and four-note version of the motto, as at 0:13 and 3:26 [m. 7].
9:11 [m. 132]--String descent to F-major cadence against “motto” chords in the winds, as at 0:22 and 3:35 [m. 11].
9:22 [m. 136]--Transition.  It begins like the passage at 0:32 and 3:46 [m. 15], but quickly diverges harmonically and dynamically, remaining expressive and soft.  The wind scoring is subtly altered, with horns joining the other winds instead of the violin echo.  In the third measure, the notes in the rising figure are changed and the dotted rhythm is straightened out.  The “turn and descent” is replaced by an arching figure that does use dotted rhythm, and the wind accompaniment is reduced to clarinets and bassoons.  The rising arpeggios are also straightened out, without the triplets, and they are passed up through the string section, without the pulsing syncopations.  The implied cadence is a half-step higher (to G-flat or F-sharp).
9:38 [m. 142]--The motto statement at 0:47 and 4:01 [m. 21] as well as the restated transition passage at 0:51 and 4:05 [m. 23] are dispensed with, and this moment corresponds to 1:07 and 4:20 [m. 29].  The artful “enharmonic modulation” follows the same formula, this time with F-sharp leading to the “dominant” chord in D major, where Theme 2 will be heard (a fourth higher than in the exposition, which is typical).  The key signature changes to two sharps here.  The motto is a half-step higher than its typical “home,” played on F-sharp and A-natural by first violins, horn, and oboe.  The rising arpeggios are passed from bassoon to flute and clarinet, but they are slower this time, in quarter notes instead of eighth notes.
9:42 [m. 144]--Analogous to 1:12 and 4:25 [m. 31].  The woodwinds and strings are reversed from the exposition in the first two measures, with the winds playing the chords and first violins the arpeggio.  The original scoring is somewhat restored for the next two measures, but the final rising arpeggio that sets the stage for Theme 2 is played very quietly by bassoons alone.
9:56 [m. 149]--Theme 2 (D major).  The meter changes to 9/4, as at 1:26 and 4:40 [m. 36].  Here, both clarinets and both bassoons play, with one of each doubled on the melody and the other on the counterpoint.  Instead of mezza voce, the marking is sotto voce, implying a more subdued statement.  After two measures and an oboe echo, the flutes join, the first flute doubling the first clarinet on the melody, with the first bassoon moving to harmony.  The “chirping” interjections are passed from the flute to the first violins.  The “hiccup” is added at the end, indicating that the previous two statements of the melody have been condensed into one, and that is indeed the case.  The statement from 1:42 and 4:55 [m. 40] is omitted.
10:12 [m. 153]--Cheerful answering phrase, analogous to 1:57 and 5:10 [m. 44].  The harmonic motion is to F-sharp major and E major.  The woodwinds are scored differently.  The oboe and clarinet statements of the downward-winding line are reversed, with the clarinet now playing first.  The four groups of two chords are also scored with more complexity, the main change being the motion of the oboes to the second and fourth groups instead of the first and second.  However, the biggest change is in the harmony, with the chords leading not back to D major, as would match the exposition, but skillfully to the home key of F.
10:23 [m. 156]--The key signature changes to that of F major.  There, the approximate inversion of Theme 2 is played by the strings, as at 2:08 and 5:20 [m. 47].
10:31 [m. 158]--Transition to Closing Material with motion back to 6/4, as at 2:17 and 5:29 [m. 49].  The oboe motto is now at its original level starting on F.  The scoring of this passage mostly matches the analogous spot in the exposition, with the exception that the last metrically displaced arpeggio is not played by a clarinet, but by the other bassoon.
10:41 [m. 162]--Continuation of metric displacement, as at 2:26 and 5:39 [m. 53].  Again, there are subtle changes in scoring, particularly in the alternation of clarinets and bassoons and the continuing activity of flutes and oboes on the slower rising arpeggios.  The low strings take up the rising arpeggios as expected, but unlike in the exposition, they unexpectedly change key, moving the harmony up a step to G minor.
10:48 [m. 165]--Corresponds to 2:33 and 5:45 [m. 56], with the buildup now in G minor, but the metrical games are different, as is the scoring and material.  Where flutes entered before, they and the oboes now play chords in the displaced meter against continuing arpeggios in the clarinets and bassoons.  At the point where the two-beat groups had started the implied 3/2, the strings and bassoons begin playing rapid upward arpeggios in groups of three eighth notes.  Two of these groups play across one three-beat group as confirmed by the active chords in the other woodwinds.  Thus, there is no implied 3/2, but the three-note groups in the strings cross bar lines and strong beats, still superimposed on the displaced meter, so it is just as complex.  An “extra” beat extending the arpeggio is still required at the end to restore the downbeat.
10:55 [m. 168]--Climax with descending hammered third and second, analogous to 2:40 and 5:52 [m. 59].  There is a harmonic shift in the second measure to move the key from G minor to D minor, where the Closing Theme will now take place.  There is also some redistribution of the descending thirds and seconds among the violin and viola groups.
10:59 [m. 170]--Closing Theme (D minor), analogous to 2:45 and 5:56 [m. 61].  Since Theme 2 was in D major, and Brahms obviously planned for the Closing Theme to be in D minor (the “relative” minor key), it turns out that the detour to the movement’s home key of F was an elaborate, skillful, and structurally unnecessary misdirection.  The presentation mostly matches the exposition, but the wind scoring is lighter, with flutes not playing the melancholy melody, and the rising and falling motto statements are split between clarinet and horn.  The displaced meter, descending arpeggios, and rising scale in triplets occur as expected.
11:08 [m. 174]--Wind statement with added string counterpoint and repetition of sweeping scale, analogous to 2:54 and 6:05 [m. 65].  Now the scoring and distribution mostly matches the exposition, but trumpets are added to the horn punctuations.
11:20 [m. 179]--Transition to Coda.  It closely matches the end of the exposition as heard with the first ending at 3:05 [m. 70], not the second ending moving into the development section.  This is yet another extremely strong argument against omitting the exposition repeat.  The “filled in” motto is played, and the extra note is added to restore the meter.  The rising third is heard as in the first ending, now D--F, but it is played powerfully by horns.  F is of course the keynote of the movement and the symphony, so Brahms simply adds a second measure with another rising third in the horns, F moving up to A-flat.  This is, of course, the original motto, to it can lead seamlessly to the coda and the return of Theme 1.
11:29 [m. 183]--With full scoring, including trumpets, trombones, and timpani, Theme 1 begins at the original level.  The key has moved back to F major, but the emphasis of the harmony is on the “dominant” note and chord of C, which has been largely absent for the entire movement.  In fact, the bass motto against the theme is on C--E-flat--C, not on F as expected.  The second downward sweep begins on A instead of A-flat, a significant change, and the following notes are changed as well, with a narrower descent before a wider leap.  The bass on C persists through all of this.
11:36 [m. 187]--The four-note rising figure is now used to initiate a passage of great energy and excitement.  It is repeated and condensed in the strings, going somewhat against the beat and resembling the rising three-note string figures heard in the recapitulation at 10:48 [m. 165].  Against this activity, the woodwinds and horns introduce a new and heroic gesture that also uses a strong syncopation across the bar line.  The pattern is repeated a minor third higher.  Then things are condensed even more over a great buildup, with the winds playing two-note groups and held notes that obscure the strong beats and the bar lines.  The bass strongly ascends by half-step before everything is suddenly cut off.
11:51 [m. 195]--Very forcefully, the descending figures from 0:22 and 3:35 [m. 11] in the exposition are blasted out from the full orchestra in a climactic moment.  An alternation between a statement emphasizing the “dominant” harmony and a higher one on “subdominant” harmony (B-flat) is repeated.  The familiar rising figures are heard against the descents in the second violins and lower strings.  Then, after the second alternation (fourth statement of the descent), a three-note descending arpeggio is isolated without the two-note upbeat used in the alternation.  After surging upward, it gradually descends over two measures, again emphasizing harmonies on C and B-flat.  The home keynote of F is primarily present in timpani rolls.
12:06 [m. 201]--A high G emerges in the first violins, held over a measure of “diminished seventh” harmony in the winds and the other strings (with an arpeggio in second violins).  The horns pulsate in syncopation.  In the next measure, this held G emerges into a new melodic idea derived from the main theme.  A gentle turn reminiscent of the descending figures is followed by the descending fourth from the theme.  A near inversion of this melody is played against it in the violas while the second violins take over the pulsations.  The harmony finally moves toward F.  The volume diminishes rapidly, and the melodic idea is repeated in the cellos, with the inversion in the second violins and the pulsations again in the horns.
12:14 [m. 204]--With another swell, the new melodic idea is given again from the first violins with viola inversion, then repeated more quietly by cellos with second violin inversion.  The pulsations also alternate again between second violins and horns.  After this second alternation of the melodic idea, the cellos continue with it, repeating it while the first violins isolate the descent and echo the cellos, the second violins continuing the inversion idea.  The pulsations remain in the horns.  The volume now greatly diminishes as the string instrument groups extend their ideas, working down over two more measures and finally reaching a full arrival on F in the melody and bass.
12:28 [m. 209]--The horns and other winds drop out as the strings arrive on F.  This arrival is punctuated with a rising third in the second violins and its inversion in the cellos.  The F is repeated in the first violins as the other strings, joined by bassoons, play a gentle questioning gesture.  After a half-measure pause, this is continued in sequence by oboe, bassoons, and horn as the strings drop out for two measures.  The winds cut off and there is another half-measure pause.  The strings and horns swell on a cadence gesture.
12:49 [m. 216]--Fully confirming the home key, the low strings interrupt the cadence gesture, entering with an F-major arpeggio on the last beat of the measure, displacing the main meter.  On the downbeat, the horns play an F-major chord, joined in the next measure by clarinets, bassoons, trombones, and trumpets as the violins and violas join the continuing arpeggio.  The volume builds, and the same pattern is heard again, the arpeggio beginning on the last beat.  This time the harmony is the familiar “diminished seventh” under A-flat--we are hearing the motto again over the arpeggios.  Flutes and oboes join the chord, which is underpinned by a timpani roll.  To make up for the displacement, the arpeggio is extended by one note.
13:03 [m. 220]--As it must after the motto, the first downward sweep of Theme 1 follows to conclude the movement.  It is played by the violins, who rapidly diminish after the previous swell.  The descent is extended by repeating its last four notes an octave lower with the violas joining, reflecting the extended descent in the re-transition at the end of the development section.  The winds play F-major chords above this.  Finally, the low strings, overlapping with the violin descent, play a straight plucked descent on the notes of the theme, ending on F.  The violins and violas join them after completing their line.  The movement unexpectedly ends quietly, with a final transfigured chord in all instruments.
13:35--END OF MOVEMENT [224 mm.]

2nd Movement: Andante (Modified short sonata form).  C MAJOR, 4/4 time.
0:00 [m. 1]--Theme 1.  Clarinets and bassoons begin alone.  The theme presented by the clarinet is a gentle melody, but with several notable elements.  It bears a resemblance to the melodic idea from the coda of the first movement, ending like that melody with a descending fourth.  Like that melody, it is accompanied by a near inversion, here in the bassoon.  The continuation, beginning on the last beat of the first measure, has alternations between C-major and F-major chords.  In the third measure, the theme turns upward with repeated notes in dotted (long-short) rhythm in a shape that resembles the first movement’s “motto.”  Flutes and horns enter here.  As the phrase concludes, the low strings come in with a warm echo of its conclusion.
0:14 [m. 5]--The second phrase begins like the first, overlapping with the low strings.  The second measure is more active, leaping up to a downward motion on the first beat.  The dotted rhythm in the third measure and the low string echo now make a harmonic detour toward E minor and G major.
0:28 [m. 9]--The third phrase begins higher, echoing the second measure of the previous phrase, with the horns entering a bar earlier.  It is extended to six measures.  The first addition is the third measure, a gentle up-down motion with the dotted rhythm on A minor before the expected upward rise, now in the fourth measure.  The low string echo follows as it has before, but in the second addition, it is extended a measure as the oboe makes its very first appearance, a heartfelt descending line that begins with a held note over the bar line from the last beat of the previous measure.  The C-major cadence merges with the next phrase.
0:49 [m. 15]--The fourth phrase is again extended to six measures, but it does not reach full closure.  It begins like the second phrase, adding more decoration in the second measure, but now the clarinets and bassoons are alone for four measures.  The third measure is another static up-down motion carrying over from the last beat of the second measure, now alternating harmonies between C major and G major.  The motion continues in the fourth measure, which moves toward F major.  The upward rise in dotted rhythm with horns and flutes finally follows in the fifth measure, echoed by questioning low strings in the sixth.
1:08 [m. 21]--Beginning with an upbeat, the winds, still led by clarinets, play an extension based on the last two measures of the familiar phrase.  This is more conclusive and leads to a full cadence.  The low strings echo this, as expected, but their cadence merges directly into the transition passage based on a decorated version of the theme.
1:20 [m. 24]--Transition.  The oboes begin on an upbeat with a rapturous decorative line in sixteenth notes, passing figures between themselves.  Clarinets, bassoons, and horns, joined by the low strings, play the theme against this decoration.  In the second measure, again beginning with an upbeat, the strings take over the sixteenth notes, which now undulate under wind chords.  At this point, the alternating chords beginning on the last beat of the measure start to noticeably displace the meter.  Violins join in, playing for the first time in the movement.  The two-measure pattern is repeated and intensified, flutes joining the decoration.
1:33 [m. 28]--Having entered, the violins now exuberantly soar upward, moving the harmony toward the “dominant” key of G.  They alternate undulating up-down motion with the lower strings.  The winds continue to play chords and thematic fragments.  The strings move down.  Then there is another alternating motion of chords, still decorated with the sixteenth notes, that begins on the upbeat and displaces the meter.  Removing the opening upbeat and the first chord, the pattern is repeated, moved back two beats.  To compensate, the downward motion is extended another two beats.
1:49 [m. 33]--Except for bassoons, the winds now drop out.  Somewhat ominously, the alternating chords are isolated, quietly passed between low strings and violins.  Each group begins on the fourth beat of the measure, completely obscuring the meter.  The “dominant” key of G had seemed like the goal, but increasingly the “relative” key of A minor begins to take over.  After two alternations, the pattern is fragmented, and while the low strings play half-step motion from upbeat to downbeat, the violins gradually move down on the weak beats.  A static point is reached, and a full cadence in A, now inflected to major, restores the sense of the downbeat.
2:19 [m. 41]--Theme 2 (G major).  Any tendency toward a key center on A is undermined by motion in the strings to the “dominant” chord in G major (the expected key for a second theme).  The theme itself, played starkly in unison by clarinet and bassoon, has an austere chorale-like character.  The repeated upbeat-downbeat notes and the triplet figure are significant.  The melody tends strongly toward A minor, but the accompanying harmony in string chords contradicts this.  It continues for four measures, then in a fifth measure moves toward an arrival on G, but this is interrupted.
2:38 [m. 46]--Interrupting the arrival, oboe and horn play another statement of the chorale-like theme a fourth higher (implying D minor over string harmony implying C major).  Clarinet and bassoon take over after two measures.  The fourth measure takes a different turn from before and moves to an arrival on an entirely new key, B minor.  This is fulfilled but overlaps with the next entirely new phrase.
2:58 [m. 51]--The strings take over with a new and gentle idea marked semplice.  It begins on an upbeat, as do the other phrases, and is harmonized unambiguously in G major.  It moves to the “dominant” harmony in that key, D major, after a more regular two measures.  The whole idea is then immediately repeated in the woodwinds with the same harmonic motion.
3:11 [m. 55]--The strings play a harmonized inversion of the first few notes from the new idea.  The winds immediately take over again but move it a fourth higher.  In each case, a triplet rhythm is heard in the underlying harmony at the end, first in the violas, then in clarinet and bassoon.
3:18 [m. 57]--A transitional passage isolates the upbeat-downbeat rhythm from the theme and the accompanying chords.  The rhythm alternates instruments and registers, as well as single notes or octaves and chords, with overlapping entries.  The pattern of instrument groups is repeated twice, with the notes and chords having some repetition, but less regularity.  All groups are marked dolce.  The effect is even more austere than the theme.  The first alternations are: 1) violins and violas, G; 2) clarinet and bassoon, D-sharp; 3) low strings, “dominant seventh” chord on C; 4) oboe and horn, G; 5) flute, clarinet, and bassoon, D-sharp; 6) low strings, “dominant seventh” chord on A.
3:28 [m. 60]--The second alternation has the same instrument groups, but different notes and chords.  They are: 1) violins and violas, E; 2) clarinet and bassoon, G-sharp; 3) low strings, “dominant seventh” chord on D; 4) oboe and horn, A; 5) flute, clarinet, and bassoon, E-flat; 6) low strings, another “dominant seventh” chord on D.  This merges directly into the closing material, which begins halfway through the measure.
3:39 [m. 63]--Closing Material.  The “dominant” chord on D leads as expected to G, confirming that key again.  In the violins, a decorative motion in triplet rhythm is introduced, but notes are tied and held over all the beats.  The motion circles initially around the note D, moving up to E and down to C-sharp.  Against it, the violas, cellos, and bassoons, in harmony, play a more active version of the main theme, adding arching motion in place of the descending fourth.  After two measures, the decorative motion gradually breaks free, shadowing the theme.  The theme now has downbeat passing notes and appoggiaturas that reflect the tied notes in the violins.  In the fourth measure, both elements have a soaring leap, then a descent in the fifth.
3:58 [m. 68]--The same triplet motion with tied notes continues in the violins, still shadowing the low strings, which extend the theme with colorful notes and harmonies.  The bassoons are joined by clarinets and horns, playing held notes and motions that recall the characteristic upbeat-downbeat motion of both themes and the alternating chords of the first theme.  The string basses have already been supporting this upbeat-downbeat motion.  The music tapers off to settle into the short development section.
4:10 [m. 71]--The first part continues as an extension of the closing material, beginning for strings alone.  The decorative triplet motion with tied notes over the beats moves into cellos and violas as the violins now take the new active version of the main theme.  Beginning with a striking harmonic shift, it is presented in a new key, B major.  After two measures, the downbeat-upbeat alternation is heard with a chromatic inflection to G-natural, bassoons joining the violins, with B major still being suggested in the low string triplets.  The volume swells, and the tension indicates that the harmony will become more unstable.
4:19 [m. 74]--For one measure, the triplets move to the violins and the alternating chords move back to C major.  Then the triplets immediately move back to the low strings, and the key most closely suggested is F.  One more measure, and the triplets move to the violins again, with the chords moving between F and D-flat (the latter helping with an inflection of F to minor).  The juxtaposition between F and D-flat recalls the transition passage in the exposition of the first movement and elsewhere.
4:30 [m. 77]--The undulating sixteenth notes from the transition passage now completely take over in the strings.  They are passed between instrument groups.  The bass moves back to C, but now that note seems to function as a “dominant” harmony in F minor.  Against this, the woodwinds play the head of the main theme.  After two measures, there is a strongly accented wind chord (a dissonant “diminished seventh”) held over the bar line.  The first violins then plunge downward, using the oscillating sixteenth notes.
4:39 [m. 80]--Re-transition.  Suddenly, the violins blast out the head of the main theme, combining it with the sixteenth-note rhythm.  A loud chord follows with horns and trombones, over which the strings pass the sixteenth note figure upward.  The key of C major is gradually re-established.  Beginning on an upbeat, held over the bar line, the clarinet sneaks into the opening figure of the main theme as the strings again pass the sixteenth notes upward.  The pattern is twice repeated (always with upward string motion and horn/trombone harmonies), first with the flute, then with the bassoon.  The bassoon holds its last note over the bar line, then repeats the figure, but straightens out the “falling” gesture in eighth notes to quarter notes.
4:56 [m. 85]--The measure that effectively leads into the recapitulation, but still seems like part of the preceding re-transition, is extremely artful.  Flute, clarinet, and bassoon overlap with and repeat the version of the opening figure just heard from the bassoon, with the “straightened” quarter notes, but without holding the first note over the bar line.  This shifts everything back a beat.  The string figuration changes to simply being passed back and forth.  It turns out that this altered statement of the opening figure is now the beginning of the theme itself, and the recapitulation has “snuck in!”
4:59 [m. 86]--By beginning the theme on the upbeat, but not holding it over the bar line, and by straightening out the falling figure, Brahms has achieved the same effect as beginning the theme on the downbeat with the faster falling figure.  From this point, the theme continues as expected from its second measure, but with a different orchestral presentation.  The winds play the alternating chords and the “motto”-like dotted rhythm, still with horn and trombone harmonies.  The strings continue the figuration based on the undulating sixteenth notes as heard in the preceding development and re-transition.  The echo from the low strings is transformed into an arching answer led by clarinets.  The trombones drop out.
5:10 [m. 89]--Second phrase, corresponding to 0:14 [m. 5].  Horns and trombones have now both dropped out, but the full woodwind section continues to present the theme against the oscillating sixteenth notes passed back and forth between the strings.  The harmonic detour to E minor and G major is preserved, but the low string echo is again changed to an answer led by clarinets with bassoons and re-entering horns.
5:23 [m. 93]--Third phrase, closely corresponding to 0:28 [m. 9].  The woodwind presentation over the string figuration continues, including the first extension.  The “echo” is this time unaltered, now given by bassoons and horns instead of low strings.  The oboe plays its “heartfelt” descending line, as it did before.
5:44 [m. 99]--Fourth phrase, analogous to 0:49 [m. 15].  While the wind presentation of the theme continues, the accompanying string figuration, which had already thinned out under the oboe line, continues to do so.  First, the figures are reduced to isolated statements on the second and fourth beats in first violins and violas, then they slow from sixteenth notes to triplets before again being passed back and forth.  Again, the “echo” is in horns and bassoons, and the string figures, still triplets, thin out again.
6:03 [m. 105]--Extension, analogous to 1:08 [m. 21].  The string triplets are isolated on the second and fourth beats, and the cellos and basses start plucking in a descending line.  The woodwinds present the extension and cadence, still closely matching the exposition.  Again, the “echo” is in horns and bassoons.  The strings thin even more, with the second violins and violas slowing to straight eighth notes on the weak beats in the last measure.  The cadence of the “echo” merges into the next passage, but that passage is now entirely new.  The transition and most of the original second theme are replaced by this new material.
6:15 [m. 108]--The new material, or new second theme, is extremely passionate.  It is presented by the violins, picking up from the motion of the preceding cadence.  A long note is followed by a descending fifth in eighth notes.  This pattern is stated twice in sequence.  Meanwhile, the low strings steadily rise, and the violas play a background pattern in triplet arpeggios.  The winds now provide harmonic support.  The volume steadily builds, working toward a major climax.  After the two descending patterns, the third long note emerges into an upward motion, with two successive rising lines on upbeats against wind descents.
6:33 [m. 112]--The full-hearted climax arrives as the violins reach their highest pitch.  They play a series of downward-arching figures.  The low strings rise again, supported by harmonies in the winds.  The climax dissipates quickly.  As the low bass reaches the keynote C, the clarinets and bassoons join the violas in rising triplets, then take over for them.  The introduction of the notes B-flat and D-flat hint again at the key of F, with C as its “dominant” harmony.  The clarinet and bassoon arpeggios are the last thing to dissipate.
6:51 [m. 116]--Transitional passage isolating the upbeat-downbeat rhythms, corresponding to 3:18 [m. 57].  This is all that remains of the original chorale-like Theme 2.  The passage is transposed up a fourth from the exposition (or from G major to C major).  The first pattern of alternations is: 1) violins and violas, C; 2) clarinet and bassoon, G-sharp; 3) low strings, “dominant seventh” chord on F; 4) oboe and horn, C; 5) flute, oboe, and horn, G-sharp; 6) low strings, “dominant seventh” chord on D.
7:04 [m. 119]--Second alternation, corresponding to 3:28 [m. 60].  The pattern is: 1) violins and violas, A; 2) clarinet and bassoon, C-sharp; 3) low strings, “dominant seventh” chord on G; 4) oboe and horn, D; 5) flute, oboe, and horn, A-flat (re-notated from G-sharp); 6) trombones (replacing low strings), “dominant seventh” chord on G.  As in the exposition, this merges directly into the next element, now the coda.  Like the previous closing material, it begins halfway through the measure in the violins, with a similar triplet-rhythm gesture.  It arches down, then moves to a strong cadence on C.
7:18 [m. 122]--The opening gesture of the main theme is presented in its original instrument, the clarinet, accompanied by bassoons as in its first presentation.  A solid, stubborn bass on the keynote C is established in the low strings, combining a held note with plucked reiterations.  The clarinet states the opening gesture, holding a note over the bar line, then repeats it, then moves it down a fourth, repeating it there.  Under this, the bassoons introduce colorful chromatic harmonies, including the A-flat that is suggestive of F minor.  The clarinet settles on a low C, repeating it in mild syncopation.  Finally, it moves from this low C to another statement of the gesture, using syncopation to stretch it out.
7:40 [m. 128]--The familiar alternating chords on C and F are heard in horns, trombones, and low strings, now without the metrical ambiguity.  The clarinet then plays an arpeggio that briefly dips down, then moves up an octave.  It is on F major, as is the held chord underneath it.  The alternating chords are then heard again, adding clarinets and bassoons but removing low strings.  They are now on C and A-flat, and indeed, the following arpeggio, now played by the oboe, has the same shape as the preceding clarinet one, but it is on A-flat major over that held chord.  Violins and flute enter on a high C as it ascends.
7:57 [m. 132]--Without intervening chords, the arpeggio is played by both oboe and flute, reaching high.  It is again on F, but now F minor, influenced by the previous A-flat.  The chord underneath it also moves to F minor.  Brahms indicates a slowing here.  The F-minor arpeggio resolves into the final, otherworldly C-major chord.  This is a “plagal” cadence, with the “subdominant” harmony moving to the home chord.  These cadences are not unusual in Brahms (and the frequent alternation of C and F chords has set the stage for it), but the use of the minor “subdominant” is notable.  The presence of F and A-flat reflects the opening “motto” of the first movement!  The chord is gently reiterated by the lower instruments, then held.
8:23--END OF MOVEMENT [134 mm.]

3rd Movement: Poco Allegretto (Ternary form [ABA’] resembling a Scherzo [Intermezzo] and Trio).  C MINOR, 3/8 time.
FIRST SECTION or “Intermezzo” (A)
0:00 [m. 1]--First part (a).  The inspired, wistful
mezza voce minor-key theme is played by cellos in their upper-middle register.  It begins with a dotted (long-short) figure on the upbeat leading to a long note.  The dotted figure is shifted to the downbeat in the second and fourth measures, moving higher.  The accompaniment is harmonic, but active.  Violins pass an undulating triplet figure between firsts and seconds.  Violas play a downward arch in straight rhythm.  Basses provide a plucked foundation.  Flutes and bassoons are the only wind instruments.  As in the second movement, the bass moves between C and F.
0:11 [m. 5]--In the next three measures, the dotted figure moves back to the upbeat (including the lead-in to m. 5) and the melody gradually moves down.  The accompanying figures become more halting, adding breaks.  In the seventh measure, the upbeat is a cadence-like turn figure that arrives on the “dominant” harmony of G.  Unexpectedly, the melody does not pause, but rises chromatically, leading to an extension.
0:21 [m. 9]--A four-measure extension stretches the theme to a total of 12 measures.  The dotted figure is manipulated yet again.  It now begins not on the downbeat nor the upbeat, but on the middle beat, and its note values are lengthened so that it lasts two beats.  The first two downbeats reach up toward the lengthened dotted-rhythm figure, which works down.  The penultimate measure, the 11th overall, includes a more decisive turn figure with a five-note “quintuplet” on the downbeat.  This leads to a strong half-cadence on the “dominant.”  The accompaniment is more active, as in the first four-measure phrase.
0:30 [m. 13]--The previous half-cadence leads into a repetition of the entire theme in the first violins.  The opening four-measure phrase proceeds as expected, but the accompaniment is rearranged.  Clarinets are added, playing syncopated harmonies.  The straight rhythm, now a descending line, moves to the cellos, supported and continued by upward arches in the bassoon.  The undulating triplets are now passed between second violins and violas.  The flutes drop out.
0:39 [m. 17]--The second phrase follows with the dotted figures on the upbeats and the more halting accompaniment.  Again, an arrival on the “dominant” harmony does not pause but rises into the extension.
0:48 [m. 21]--The extension proceeds as before.  In the accompaniment, the actual triplet figures are broken up between the second violins and violas.  The only major change is the significant one at the end, where both the melody and the harmony move to full closure in C minor rather than to a half-cadence, but even this leads directly into the second part (b).
0:55 [m. 24]--Second part (b).  Even before the cadence, the cellos begin the new major-key melody, starting on the last beat and holding it over the bar.  The melody arrives like a soothing balm, arching gently down and reaching up to a descent.  This descent does include one poignant minor-key inflection.  This first figure is stated twice, with the first violins joining in harmony a sixth above on the second statement.  It is marked dolce.  The second violins and violas continue with the undulating triplet accompaniment.  The string basses remain anchored on C.  Clarinets and bassoons continue as the supporting wind instruments.
1:03 [m. 28]--The continuation begins like the first two statements of the melodic figure, but it reaches up at the end of the first measure and then loses the minor-key inflection in the next one.  The cello line is now no longer in parallel with the first violins, who take the lead.  The bass moves away from its solid C.  A series of three descents after notes held over bar lines seems to strongly confirm C major in the melody, but the harmonies in the bass, as well as the clarinets and bassoons, seem to suggest F, then E, A, and D in a circle of fifths motion, perhaps hinting at A minor.
1:12 [m. 32]--The dolce melody begins to hover around the note B.  A trill-like motion alternates with a downward turn, with B held over three straight bar lines.  After a second trill-like motion reaches higher and C is held over the line, the downward arch returns for a fourth held B.  The cello line harmonizes everything a tenth below.  The bass and the woodwind harmony are firmly centered on E, with strong “dominant” and “subdominant” motion toward that note in the bass.  It is unclear whether the E is a temporary home key or an extended unresolved “dominant” in A minor.  The constant presence of both G-sharp and C-natural seems to rule out both E minor and E major.
1:20 [m. 36]--The first violin and cello lines are now left alone as everything else breaks off.  They stay in harmony, working up with trill-like motion, then the violins move down by half-step as the cellos break their strict harmonization.  The violas enter, playing arching figures below the violins.  The violins seem to move back to C minor while the violas again suggest A minor.  A “diminished seventh” arpeggio in triplets from the cellos does not resolve the harmonic ambiguity.  The violins and violas drop and rise an octave, respectively, so that the violas are above the violins, but they suggest the same harmonies as before in two more reiterations.  The “diminished seventh” arpeggio moves to the clarinets, which take it up two octaves.
1:30 [m. 41]--Third part (a’).  The main theme returns, its upbeat overlapping with the clarinet arpeggio.  Its return confirms the C-minor key suggested by the violins in the previous transition.  It is now presented by flute, oboe, and horn in unison.  The cellos and violas alternate with the violins on the undulating figures.  The downward motion in “straight” rhythm is taken by bassoon, then clarinet.
1:40 [m. 45]--In the second phrase, the primary variation is in the clarinets and bassoons, who echo and invert the theme’s upbeats and introduce syncopation.  The same instruments (flute, oboe, and horn) play the melody, continuing with a rise into the extension, as expected.  Under that rise, the cellos join the basses on plucked notes.
1:49 [m. 49]--The extension proceeds as expected, with the melody leading to a full closure in C minor as in the second statement at 0:48 [m. 21].  Immediately following the cadence, the orchestra plays an unexpected chord of A-flat minor on the second and third beats of the cadence measure, with the winds holding over the first two beats of the next measure.  The middle section, or “Trio,” will follow directly, beginning on the upbeat that starts its extended metric displacement.
SECOND SECTION or “Trio” (B), A-flat minor/major
2:00 [m. 54]--Part 1 (c).  Everything is metrically displaced, with the upbeats acting like downbeats.  The woodwinds alternate chords on A-flat minor and A-flat major, with the major chords on the nominal downbeats.  Against these woodwind chords, the cellos play a descending fourth, A-flat to E-flat, in syncopation, with E-flat serving as the “dominant” note.  In the next two measures, there is a highly chromatic progression toward the “dominant” chord on E-flat, with harmonies involving notes such as F-flat (E-natural) and D-natural.  This is underscored by the syncopated cello line, which includes a large drop of a tenth and then a chromatic motion up to E-flat.
2:08 [m. 58]--The next four measures continue the rhythmic pattern with an expansion of the “dominant” harmony in A-flat minor.  In the first two measures, the syncopated cello line leaps up two octaves on D-flat against the rather static harmonies of the woodwind chords.  The next two measures lead to another half-close on the “dominant” E-flat harmony.
2:16 [m. 62]--Part 1 (c), varied repetition.  The passage from 2:00 [m. 54] is stated with slightly varied scoring.  The flutes reach higher in their harmonies, and the bassoons play a role in presenting the “melody,” such as it is.  The syncopated supporting line is also varied, now expanded to full arpeggios incorporating the rest of the string section.  A first violin descent is followed by a cello ascent.  Then that ascent-descent pattern is repeated, with violas joining both the first violins and the cellos.
2:24 [m. 66]--The passage from 2:08 [m. 58] is similarly varied with higher-reaching flutes.  The syncopated line is still expanded to arpeggios, but now they are all ascending and played by cellos alone.
2:32 [m. 70]--Part 2 (d).  All wind instruments drop out, and the strings alone play a new expressive idea that immediately restores the downbeat and sense of meter.  It is in B major, which (if spelled as C-flat major) is the “relative” key to A-flat minor.  A richly harmonized, gently swaying melody reaches higher, then higher again, swelling in volume as it does.  At the high point, the basses, who have been absent for the whole B section thus far, join in, playing with bows for the first time in the movement.  The following descent becomes chromatic and recedes, moving back to A-flat minor.  The expected cadence is extended over the bar line, obscuring the downbeat, then avoids an arrival.
2:53 [m. 79]--Part 3 (c’).  The scoring combines elements from both previous statements.  The flutes are lower, as at 2:00 [m. 54], while the bassoons are melodic, as at 2:16 [m. 62].  The supporting line is in arpeggios, as in the second statement, now with the violas participating throughout in both descents and ascents.  The syncopation across bar lines is eliminated, necessitating additional notes in the arpeggios.
3:01 [m. 83]--This second half of the statement is subtly changed in several ways.  The “melody” in the winds now alternates between clarinets and flutes/bassoons.  The first and third arpeggios are ascents in violas alone.  The second and fourth arpeggios have a violin descent and a cello ascent at the same time.  All are still without the syncopation.  The chords outlined by the arpeggios are almost imperceptibly changed, and then the top note of the melody slides up a half-step in the last two measures.  The final harmony is not on E-flat, but a “dominant seventh” on B-flat, leaving the arrival on E-flat unfulfilled.
3:09 [m. 87]--Re-transition based on Part 2 (d).  The first four measures of the expressive string idea from 2:32 [m. 70] are played again, restoring the downbeat, but they are in the “home” major key on A-flat, a minor third lower than before.  This artful change from the “relative” to the “parallel” major was made smooth by the previous harmonic alterations.  The cello line is slightly different than before, using a downward chromatic motion instead of an upward one.  The volume also recedes rather than builds.
3:19 [m. 91]--At this point, the upward reach to the chromatic descent, the volume has reached a level of pianissimo where before it had been a climax.  Brahms even asks for it to get quieter than that.  The first three notes of the descent are doubled in length, creating an implied 3/4 measure superimposed on two measures of the prevailing 3/8 meter.
3:25 [m. 93]--The strings come to rest on a chord that sounds like an “augmented sixth” in A-flat major.  Against this chord, the clarinet and bassoon enter almost sneakily.  What they play is none other than the first three notes of the main theme of the Intermezzo (A) in A-flat minor (the dotted upbeat and the long note on the downbeat).  The string chord does not behave as expected, moving to the “subdominant” D-flat instead of the “dominant” E-flat.  This in turn moves to another “augmented sixth” chord suggesting B-flat.  Indeed, the clarinet and bassoon now play the rising three-note figure on B-flat minor.  The string chords follow the same pattern, moving to a chord on E-flat (which had been expected before, but thwarted).
3:36 [m. 97]--The strings move to another “augmented sixth” chord, and following the upward pattern, it suggests C minor, the home key of the movement.  The three-note figure is heard on its original notes, but to increase the significance of the moment, it begins a beat earlier and the “upbeat” notes are doubled in length.  The more piercing flute and oboe replace the clarinet.  When the “downbeat” note arrives, the string chord is held and the horns enter on C, creating great anticipation for the reprise.
THIRD SECTION, or “Intermezzo Reprise” (A’)
3:47 [m. 99, upbeat on the last beat of m. 98]--First part (a).  The statement of the theme is now given to a solo horn instead of the cellos, which is a striking change.  The horn had taken part in the statement at 1:30 [m. 41], the “rounding” return, but now it is the leading voice in the initial statement.  The string accompaniment is mostly as it was at the beginning, except that the cellos, now freed from the melody, add a wide upward arpeggio.  The flutes, the only woodwinds, play a syncopated pulse.
3:57 [m. 103]--Continuation of theme in horn with arrival on the “dominant” and rise into the extension, analogous to 0:11 [m. 5].
4:07 [m. 107]--Extension leading to half-cadence on the “dominant,” analogous to 0:21 [m. 9].  The “quintuplet” turn figure in the horn is particularly striking.
4:16 [m. 111]--Repetition of the theme, corresponding to 0:30 [m. 13].  The oboe, which was absent in this statement before, is now given the presentation of the melody instead of the first violins.  The descending line previously played by cellos is now taken by the bassoon.  The arching lines previously played by the bassoon are given to the violas, now that all violins are participating in the triplet rhythm.  The cellos continue playing their wide arpeggios, which dovetail and combine with the viola arches.
4:25 [m. 115]--Second phrase of the continuing oboe statement of the melody, analogous to 0:39 [m. 17].
4:35 [m. 119]--Extension, corresponding to 0:48 [m. 21].  The oboe continues and concludes its presentation of the theme to the full closure in C minor.  It leads again directly into the second part (b).
4:41 [m. 122]--Second part (b), analogous to 0:55 [m. 24].  The bassoon, having played the previous cello line under the oboe statement, now continues in that role as the primary presenting instrument for this contrasting passage.  The harmony above on the second statement of the dolce motive (previously played by first violins) is now taken by the clarinet.
4:50 [m. 126]--Continuation as at 1:03 [m. 28].  The clarinet now takes the lead in the descents following notes held over bar lines.  Downward leaps in the first violins from upbeats to downbeats are added.
4:58 [m. 130]--Passage hovering around the note B, as at 1:12 [m. 32].  The trill-like motion and the downward turns are played by clarinets and bassoons in parallel thirds.
5:06 [m. 134]--Transitional passage corresponding to 1:20 [m. 36].  The clarinets and bassoons are left alone, still playing mostly in parallel thirds through the first arching figure.  After they break off, the horn enters, taking the previous role of the first violins on the second and third arching figures, which are played against the clarinet, then the bassoon in succession (these taking the previous role of the violas).  The “diminished seventh” arpeggio in triplets is first heard from the cellos, as expected.  The two-octave continuation is not given to the clarinets, however, who are otherwise occupied.  It is instead split, with the violas followed by the entering principal flute.
5:17 [m. 139]--Third part (a’), analogous to 1:30 [m. 41].  The scoring is much richer than before, with the melody played by first violins and cellos spread over three octaves.  The rescoring of the winds is clever.  The bassoons are largely as they were before, with the descending lines in straight rhythm.  The clarinets now assist the second violins and violas with the triplet accompaniment.  The instruments that played the melody before (flute, oboe, and horns) play the previous clarinet material, including the alternation with the bassoon on the descending straight rhythm.
5:27 [m. 143]--Second phrase, analogous to 1:40 [m. 45].  The same redistribution of the wind instruments continues, along with the presentation of the melody by first violins and cellos.  The horns take the inverted echo of the theme’s upbeat, which was previously played by clarinet and bassoon.
5:38 [m. 147]--Extension, analogous to 1:49 [m. 49].    The closure on C minor leads directly into the coda.
5:46 [m. 150]--Immediately after the cadence, on the second and third beats of the measure, the winds play a chord held over the bar line, reminiscent of the lead-in to the “Trio” (B).  But the chord is only held for the first beat of the next measure.  A second chord is then heard with the same metric displacement (on the second and third beats, held over into the first beat.  These chords are similar in harmony to the beginning of the “Trio” (even suggesting A-flat minor), but they quickly move to another cadence in C minor using material from the main theme, not the “Trio.”
5:57 [m. 154]--The two chords held over bar lines are heard again, now with the strings participating.  The second of these chords is now a “diminished seventh.”  After the chords, on the second and third beats of the measure held into by the second one, the orchestra swells on a rising line, richly harmonized in thirds, that uses the “longer” version of the theme’s dotted rhythm.  After the two-beat pickup, this arching line superimposes a 3/4 meter upon the prevailing 3/8, implying one 3/4 measure instead of two 3/8 bars.  This includes even the two-beat pickup, which is heard as a single-beat upbeat in an implied 3/4.  The obscured downbeat caused by the preceding chords (like the “Trio”) makes the metric ambiguity even more complex.
6:10 [m. 159]--The harmonized rising line has turned back down and receded on the last beat of the implied 3/4 measure.  There follows a gentle three-chord descent to a cadence in quarter notes.  The second and third of these are eighth notes followed by an eighth rest.  The first note-rest combination reaches across the bar line.  Thus, we have another 3/4 measure superimposed on two 3/8 measures.  After these three chords, the final C-minor chord does arrive on the downbeat.  It is held for two measures and the downbeat of a third measure.  The sense of 3/8 is restored by plucked strings on the second and third of these measures.
6:27--END OF MOVEMENT [163 mm.]

4th Movement: Allegro (Varied Sonata-Allegro form with development and recapitulation combined).  F MINOR (ending in F MAJOR), Cut time (2/2).

0:00 [m. 1]--Theme 1.  All strings and bassoons in unison, sotto voce, state the ominous main theme, characterized by its long-short-short rhythms and downward turns.  The first four measures are a square, regular phrase, clearly in F minor, but the main emphasis is on the “dominant” harmony based on C.  In the following three measures, mild syncopation is introduced with off-beat accents.  The cellos and basses break away from the other instruments here in pitch, but not in rhythm.  Their line is more linear and slightly less syncopated.  With the eighth measure, the bassoons and violins arrive on C-major harmony, holding the chord while violas and cellos exchange light, rustling upward arpeggios on that chord.
0:14 [m. 9]--The theme is now stated by flutes, clarinets, and continuing bassoons, and it is harmonized in thirds and sixths, mezza voce.  The violas and cellos continue with their rapid and light upward arpeggios.  The theme is lengthened in a most skillful way.  The fourth note is tripled in length and held over the bar line, causing everything after it to be shifted forward half a measure.  The same thing happens with the corresponding note in the second half of the phrase (which is now on a downbeat).  The phrase is thus lengthened to five measures.  Colorful harmonies are introduced in the string arpeggios, including G-flat major (the so-called “Neapolitan” chord a half-step above the home key) in the second half.
0:22 [m. 14]-- The rustling viola/cello arpeggios break.  The second phrase with the off-beat accents and syncopation is much like its first presentation, only in strings, clarinets, and bassoons.  The violins and low strings exchange their lines so that the more linear one is now above the more syncopated one.  The violas add a new harmony.  There is a divergence before the last measure, so that when the violas and cellos again start their upward arpeggios, the arrival on C is delayed a measure by its own “dominant,” G.  That arrival is left to plucked low strings.
0:31 [m. 19]--Interpolation (not part of Theme 1 or the transition).  After the low string arrival, the trombones unexpectedly enter halfway through the same measure on an E-flat, which they repeat on the downbeat.  The strings, lower winds, and horns then follow with a very familiar idea--it is none other than Theme 2 of the second movement, the one that was omitted from its recapitulation.  It was first heard in that movement at 2:19 [m. 41].  The austere character remains, and it is very quiet.  The trombone intonation and its harmonized response are followed by the triplets, now notated in quarter notes and fully harmonized.  The first four measures appear to be in the key of D-flat minor.
0:39 [m. 23]--The trombones again intone their E-flat, and the second movement theme proceeds with its longer continuation.  There is a brief suggestion of C minor, but the “dominant” in D-flat (based on A-flat) is re-asserted, and there is a turn now to D-flat major as the thematic interpolation is completed.  Once again, the trombones intone a downbeat-upbeat E-flat, but now they swell powerfully.  This ends the strange interruption from a previous movement, and the music continues as if it had never happened.
0:55 [m. 30]--Transition.  It begins powerfully, with a strong upbeat and downbeat on C.  This could have easily followed the arrival before 0:31 [m. 19] without the “interpolation” of the second movement idea.  The full orchestra plays two measures of these powerful upbeat-downbeat figures, reaching up and back down.  Then the low strings and bassoons, suddenly quiet, play the second half of the main phrase from Theme 1, still in F minor.  It is immediately followed by a continuation, with the upper woodwinds and violins entering on a descent.  A roll on the timpani and a horn entry underpin a held string C.  This again swells greatly in volume as the woodwinds continue the descent for another measure and a half.
1:05 [m. 36]--The powerful upbeat-downbeat figures begin again.  After one up and down motion as before (beginning on the harmony of F major), the rising figures become successively smaller and compressed, down to a simple repeated pattern in the fifth and sixth bars.  Meanwhile, the low strings begin playing a syncopated “pedal point” on the “dominant” note C.  The full orchestra participates except the trombones.
1:14 [m. 42]--The bass instruments move up to F, remaining there for two measures as the repeated pattern in the upper instruments moves up a fifth.  The bass then rises chromatically, still with the strong syncopation, as the hammered up-down pattern settles on C and E-flat.  When the bass reaches the note G, the strings hammer it out in leaping octaves, and it serves as the preparatory “dominant” to an actual full arrival on C.  At the same time, the woodwinds and horns play a wailing descent in C minor, harmonized in thirds.  The instruments then reverse roles, with the strings playing the wailing descent and the winds the hammered G’s.  One last shortened echo of the descent, passed from winds to strings, leads to Theme 2.
1:29 [m. 52]--Theme 2 (C major).  While the transition has arrived on C minor, the theme itself is in C major.  The “dominant” key is not particularly common for a second theme in a minor-key movement, but Brahms may be compensating for not using it in the first movement.  The theme is a heroic and grandly arching melody, played in broad triplet rhythm by the cellos and horn.  First violins and viola accompany with shorter off-beat triplet figures on repeated notes.  Bassoons and plucked string basses provide the marching foundation.  As in Theme 1, there is a strong tendency toward the “dominant” note and harmony, now G, and indeed the first phrase of the theme arrives there.
1:35 [m. 56]--The theme is now played, just as heroically, by the first violins and woodwinds (flutes, oboes, and bassoons).  The second violins and violas play the short off-beat triplet figures, with plucked cellos and basses continuing to march.  After the expected arrival on G, this statement is extended downward by two measures to arrive on E minor.
1:43 [m. 62]--The opening arch-like figures of the theme are played twice by flutes and oboes on E (suggesting A minor) against triplet pulsations in the strings and swelling figures in clarinets, horns, and bassoons.  Immediately thereafter, the violins take over and wrench the harmony back to G, which, despite its ubiquity, is still heard as the “dominant” in C major.  This motion is supported by powerful chords in the winds, with trombones joining in.
1:49 [m. 66]--The previous pattern is repeated on G, moving toward B-flat (suggesting a key center on E-flat).  Since E-flat is “relative” to C minor, this effectively sets up that key for the Closing Theme.
1:56 [m. 70]--Following the arrival on B-flat, the full orchestra, including trombones and timpani, blasts out the harmony of A-flat major, which is “relative” to the home key of F minor.  This begins the transition into the Closing Theme.  The low strings play an arpeggio on A-flat, to which the violins and woodwinds respond with a surging line that plunges down, then leaps up higher and plunges down again.  The inner strings play triplet pulsations while the horns and trumpets blast out syncopated chords.  This plunging line leads directly to C minor.  A reiteration of the last anticipatory figure greatly increases the tension.
2:02 [m. 75]--Closing Theme (C minor).  Following the heroic second theme, this minor-key sequel is intense and dramatic.  It begins with a hammered syncopation in flutes and violins.  A descending line is reiterated against powerful descending arpeggios in the lower strings and strong wind chords.  There finally seems to be a strongly rooted key center rather than an emphasis on “dominant” harmony.  The theme makes a quick upward turn, then again surges forward and upward in the woodwinds and middle strings against a repeated G in first violins and cellos.  The horns also play this G in a contrasting syncopated rhythm that seems to “alternate” with the dotted rhythm in the rest of the orchestra.
2:11 [m. 81]--Strongly but briefly moving to F minor, the orchestra, with punctuating trombones and timpani, blasts out a dissonant chord followed by a powerful descent with upward thrusting bass motion.  This descent turns around and moves back to C minor, then again surges forward as before, this time with the repeated G in the bass, again “alternating” with the syncopated horns.  The strings play dotted rhythm, the winds straight chords.  There then follows a highly chromatic sequence of four chords with upward motion by half-step in the top voices.  The winds and strings reverse rhythm, with the former playing the dotted rhythm.  The inner strings pulsate in triplet rhythm.  As chromatic and dissonant as these four chords are, there is no large-scale harmonic motion, and they land again on C minor.
2:20 [m. 87]--The closing theme begins again, but in its third measure, it reaches higher.  It now leads to a series of three upward thrusting figures that place a strong accent on the last eighth note of each four-note group--the very weakest part of the beat.  They are also again highly chromatic, vacillating between F minor and C minor.  After a zigzagging interruption, the three upward thrusting figures are repeated.  The “zigzagging interruption” is now doubled in length and moves to the distant key of B minor.
2:32 [m. 96]--In B minor, the winds play a hint of the main theme that breaks into three upward scale fragments in triplet rhythm.  The strings support the B-minor harmony.  It does not last long.  Immediately after the wind flourish, the orchestra moves strongly back to C minor with a series of powerfully hammered two-note groups in upper strings, horns, and trumpets, supported by a marching bass and woodwind chords.  These continue for four measures, with the bass turning around and marching back down halfway through.
2:41 [m. 102]--Transition to development/recapitulation.  The opening fragment of the main theme is heard in first violins and violas, strongly moving back to F minor.  This is repeated at a higher level.  The hammered two-note groups continue against it in the lower strings, bassoons, horns, and trumpets.  These cease as the bassoons and horns play the thematic fragment against plucked strings.  Here, the music rapidly quiets down.  The opening fragment is reduced to its first three notes, which are passed up and back down by the woodwinds.  Plucked strings then lead smoothly back to the full reprise of the main theme.
Recapitulation of Theme 1
2:51 [m. 108]--Theme 1.  Before the development, the main theme is given a reprise in the home key.  The unison statement is in the woodwinds, played over plucked string notes, also in unison.  Initially, this is without oboe.  The main four-measure phrase is extended by two measures with continuing downward scale figures in the winds, including oboe and briefly the low strings.  Halfway through the second measure, the strings begin to play the original second phrase with off-beat accents.  The notes are doubled in length, and the syncopation is smoother.  The notes are passed to winds and then back to strings.  This haunting transformation stretches four measures to six.  The total of eight measures is expanded to twelve.
3:11 [m. 120]--Oboe and bassoon now present a straightforward statement of the opening phrase.  It is accompanied by hushed but agitated rising half-step figures in the strings, also punctuated by flutes and clarinets.  In the following four measures, the downward scale figures from the end of the main phrase are again continued, but this time the second phrase with off-beat accents is not heard.  The descending scale fragments are passed from oboe and bassoon (who just stated the thematic phrase), to clarinet, to first violins with bassoon support, to oboe, then to clarinet and bassoon.  The rising half-steps continue in the lower strings, breaking briefly when the first violins take up the descending scale.
3:24 [m. 128]--In a transition to the development section, the strings now take up the descending scale derived from the end of the thematic phrase, adding harmony.  Violins are joined after a measure by violas and cellos.  Clarinets and bassoons sneak in with a fragment of the second phrase, lengthened out as before.  The scales break off, and the fragment of the second phrase is reduced to a harmonized descending half-step.  Throughout this transition, F minor has held on rather tenaciously, but here, the note F-flat in the cellos and basses signals a change.  When the flutes and oboe enter with a descending line, they herald the development proper.
3:35 [m. 134]--Playing in a measured tremolo over a low held E-flat in cellos and basses, the violins play a version of the main thematic phrase in the key of A-flat minor.  This version of the theme is broken up with rests after every two beats of the melody.  Thus, the four-bar phrase is stretched out to eight measures by these halting rests.  The flutes and oboe, who led into this statement, continue to play a slow descending harmonized scale.  Halfway through the phrase, after four measures, the violas, cellos, and basses take over for the violins, and the slow descending wind scale moves to clarinet and bassoons.  In the eighth measure, the point of arrival unexpectedly and quietly turns down as if to start the theme again.
3:47 [m. 142]--In a sudden, powerful outburst, the opening downward turn of the theme is used in a rapid upward sequence of changing harmonies.  The strings take over the slow descending scales from the winds, passing them in a sequential manner down from violins to violas to cellos in a continuous motion with emphasis on two-note groups.  The thematic opening itself is first stated by the upper winds.  After a brief pause, the low strings (while the other strings are playing the scales) take the thematic figure and quickly pass it to the horns.  This pattern is repeated a second time.  The harmony moves from A-flat to B-flat to C.
3:53 [m. 146]--The sequence continues, but the pattern is shortened.  The upper wind statement is still followed by a brief pause, but now it is directly followed by the horns without the low strings, shortening the pattern by half a measure.  Then the pattern starts again, but this time the pause is eliminated (and the violas play with the upper winds).  The string figures are now even more focused on two-note descents, and the first violins reach high.  Finally, the winds and violas play a last punctuation to close out the pattern and the sequence.  The harmony has moved up to D and E.  The latter is transformed to the “dominant” of A minor in the breathtaking, surprising climax that follows.
3:58 [m. 149]--Everything breaks off in an extremely dramatic general pause. On the upbeat, with powerful force, we hear the chorale theme--originally the second theme of the second movement and then unexpectedly heard as an interruption in this movement’s exposition.  Its potential for a grand apotheosis could not have been predicted back when it was heard in the second movement.  While the violins take part in the initial upbeat, the main argument is given to woodwinds, brass, and basses.  The familiar alternation is between the higher wind instruments and the lower ones (bassoons and trombones) with horns split between them.  Meanwhile, the strings begin a forceful accompaniment with swirling, arching motion in fast triplets.  The slower triplets of the chorale theme are also played in alternation.  The key is A minor.
4:07 [m. 155]--The chorale theme, with the swirling triplets in the strings, continues.  After the A-minor statement, it is heard in C minor, then in C-sharp/D-flat minor, then in E minor.  The alternation in the winds between the upbeat-downbeat groups and the slow triplets becomes less predictable, but the identity of the second movement theme is never in doubt.  With the passage in E minor, the slow triplets completely take over.  The tension and power do not abate.  The string triplets have widened, including arpeggios.
4:26 [m. 167]--The last upward shift in the key sequence is to the home key of F, but it is now triumphantly F in its major version.  The tension between A-flat and A-natural from the very beginning of the whole symphony, between F minor and F major, seems to have been definitively won by F major and A-natural.  The climax is intense, with the chorale blasted out by all the winds and brass, and with the timpani making a grand entrance.  The fast string triplets are jubilant, including descending arpeggios.  Everything culminates in a massive chord with thundering timpani roll as the strings plunge downward--and then the anticipated glorious arrival is mercilessly aborted with the intrusion of the seemingly vanquished A-flat.
Recapitulation Continued
4:33 [m. 172]--Transition, analogous to 0:55 [m. 30].  Because the second movement theme has just reached its grand fulfillment, there is no need to return to it again.  The first two measures of the transition, with the powerful upbeat-downbeat figures, are essentially as they were in the exposition, but with the winds playing chords instead of the figures themselves.  But then, instead of the last two measures of the main Theme 1 phrase at a quiet level, the whole thing is played in a feverish, forceful transformation.  The melodic notes in high strings are fragmented into downward turning figures off the beat, but still very recognizable as the theme.  The winds support with off-beat chords, and the bass instruments play leaping upward octaves on the downbeats.  There is a one-measure extension with a plunging string descent.
4:43 [m. 179]--Here the expected adjustment is made to remain on the home key center for Theme 2.  The passage analogous to 1:05 [m. 36] is compressed by one bar, perhaps to make up for the previous one-measure extension (three measures with the full statement of the theme).  The high strings and winds alternate on the upbeat-downbeat figures, arching up and back down.  The bass instruments, meanwhile, march in a zigzag pattern.  In the third measure, there is a powerful chromatic motion, with the bass landing on F.  The next two measures correspond to the last two of 1:05 [m. 36], with the repeated up-down pattern, a fourth higher than before.
4:51 [m. 184]--From this point, there is close correspondence, here with 1:14 [m. 42], everything a fourth higher.  The bass moves up to B-flat for two measures as the repeated pattern moves up a fifth.  There is the rising chromatic motion in the bass, with the hammered up-down pattern now settling on A-flat and F.  The leaping bass octaves are now on C instead of G.  The “wailing descent,” now in F minor, is changed so that the wind and string alternations are reversed, with the strings playing it first, supported by a powerful inner tremolo in triplet rhythm.  The winds follow, and the shortened echo leading to Theme 2 is also so reversed.
5:06 [m. 194]--Theme 2 (F major).  Now in the home major key, it closely corresponds to 1:29 [m. 52], even with the same instrumentation, cellos and horns again presenting the heroic triplet-rhythm melody.
5:12 [m. 198]--Extended statement, corresponding to 1:35 [m. 56].  The wind scoring is lighter, without flutes, but the string scoring is the same.  The motion is now to C, with the extension going toward A minor.
5:20 [m. 204]--Analogous to 1:43 [m. 62].  Arch-like figures in the winds against triplet pulsations, followed by strong violin motion, now toward C as the “dominant” of F major.  The orchestration is nearly the same, the biggest difference being the clarinets playing the arching figures with the oboes instead of the flutes (who now play the “swelling figures”).
5:26 [m. 208]--Previous pattern on C, moving toward E-flat (suggesting A-flat major) in preparation for Closing Theme in F minor, analogous to 1:49 [m. 66].
5:32 [m. 212]--Transition into Closing Theme, analogous to 1:56 [m. 70].  The “blasted” harmony and low string arpeggio are on D-flat.  Surging, plunging line leading back to F minor.  The full orchestration is largely as before.
5:39 [m. 217]--Closing Theme (F minor), analogous to 2:02 [m. 75].  There are some subtle shifts in orchestration, such as the horns supporting the melody for the first two measures and the flutes continuing to double the violins two measures beyond what they did before.  The inner strings are also somewhat rearranged.  The upward turn, forward surge, and syncopated horns are all present as before.
5:48 [m. 223]--Analogous to 2:11 [m. 81].  Strong but brief motion to B-flat minor.  Dissonant chord, powerful descent, and thrusting bass motion.  Motion back to F minor, forward surge with repeated C in the bass alternating with syncopated horns, then chromatic sequence of four chords.  The strings and winds alternate their rhythms as before.
5:56 [m. 229]--Closing Theme reaching higher, then upward thrusting figures with strong accents on last eighth note of four-note group, corresponding to 2:20 [m. 87].  Again, the horns support the melody for two measures where they did not do so before.  Vacillation between B-flat minor and F minor.  The second “zigzagging interruption” now moves to E minor.
6:09 [m. 238]--Wind hint of main theme in E minor breaking into upward scale fragments in triplet rhythm, analogous to 2:32 [m. 96].  Then strong motion back to F minor with hammered two-note chords.  Significantly, the marching bass line in the low strings and bassoons is now replaced by the first three measures of the main theme itself in its original key.  The fourth measure of the theme is supplanted by a continuation of the pattern in the third measure.  In a way, this unexpected return of the main theme in the bass is a reference back to 2:51 [m. 108], which shortly followed the analogous passage to this one, at a point which will now yield to the coda.  The placement makes it an extremely artful variant.
6:17 [m. 244]--Transition to Coda.  The passage closely follows the pattern from 2:41 [m. 102], even down to the instrumentation.  The second statement of the opening fragment is not an octave higher, and that is the only major change.  There is even an analogous motion toward B-flat minor.  Brahms thwarts this by extending the passage by two measures and diverting the key a half-step higher, to B minor.  He accomplishes this with slowed down statements of the opening turn in horn, then bassoon.
6:31 [m. 252]--As the horn and bassoon trail off, the violas enter.  After holding the first note for a full measure, they begin an entirely new version of the main theme in a slow triplet rhythm.  They play it in the distant key of B minor, an unusual place to begin the coda.  The low strings and later the violins accompany this strange transformation, along with isolated interjections from bassoon and horns.
6:40 [m. 257]--Overlapping with the completion of the violas’ statement of the main phrase, the clarinet and bassoon apparently begin a repetition of this new version.  In the second measure, however, they divert the key up a minor third, to D.  The oboe and horn then enter in overlap and do the same thing, diverting the key up a minor third.  This neatly and quickly gets the music back home to F, still minor for now.  The plucked strings continue to accompany these two harmonic shifts underneath the triplet rhythm.
6:46 [m. 260]--In the second half of the measure after the return to F minor, there is a timpani roll and a quiet wind/brass chord.  Underneath this, the cellos and violas start the light, rustling upward arpeggios previously associated with the “lengthened” version of the theme from 0:14 [m. 9], which has not been heard since then.  There follows a measure (m. 261) corresponding to m. 8, with the string arpeggios on C underneath the slowly moving wind chord.  Then the lengthened five-measure theme itself is played, largely as it was at the beginning, with flutes an octave higher and violins joining with the violas on the arpeggios.  At the end, the brass enters on the last chord and the strings introduce a distinctive trill figure.
6:58 [m. 267]--This is the key moment of the movement and the symphony, only surpassed by the arrival of the “big tune” in the finale of the First as the most magical such moment in all four Brahms symphonies.  The key signature changes to F major.  Brahms marks a slowing to “Un poco sostenuto.”  The oboes have entered on the last chord of the “lengthened” theme and quickly swell.  With the sudden and striking change to major, they mark its emergence with a statement of the theme in double note values.  The violins and violas, meanwhile, establish a rustling pattern that combines the arpeggios with the trill figure and wide alternations.  Flutes join the oboes halfway through the phrase.  The horns play warm and noble harmonies.
7:06 [m. 271]--As the phrase concludes, the low strings and the woodwinds exchange statements of the opening turn figure from the theme.  Then the oboe does something truly unexpected: it intones the familiar and important four-note version of the “motto” from the first movement, originally heard in that movement at 0:13 [m. 7].  It is played on B-flat in the form heard in the first movement at 0:22 [m. 11].  Underneath it, the horn and violas play rising statements of the opening turn from this movement’s (the finale’s) theme.  The string figures become broken by rests.  Under the oboe intonation, the violins oscillate.
7:16 [m. 275]--The exchange of low strings and woodwinds on the opening turn figure is repeated, with the order of wind instruments reversed (bassoon and flute before clarinet; in the previous statement, the clarinet was first).  The intonation of the four-note “motto” is repeated, now by the horn.  Under it, the trombones make a solemn entry.  The rising statements of the opening turn heard under the oboe are absent.  The string figuration changes.  Under the turn figure, they play arpeggios broken by rests.  Under the intonation, the cellos oscillate, then the trill figure appears as the strings again play continuously.  The figuration with the trill figure is continued, steadily rising in an extension a measure and a half beyond the “motto.”
7:29 [m. 280]--In the major-key statement of the main theme, its rhythmic kinship to the main theme of the second movement has become clear.  The theme from that earlier movement that has played a large role in this finale now has a final turn on the floor.  Beginning halfway though the measure, the oboes, bassoons, horns, trumpets, and trombones begin a statement of the chorale theme in F major.  Its upbeat-downbeat repeated chords alternate with the low strings.  The upper strings continue to play the trill-like figure, against the low strings, breaking when the winds play.
7:38 [m. 284]--In pure F major, the second movement theme swells forward in the solemn color of the wind instruments, moving through the slow triplet rhythm and repeating it as the strings continuously play their now mostly consistent figuration.  They continue to play in a bridge to the next statement.
7:48 [m. 288]--The alternating chords are heard again.  This time they reach higher, strongly emphasizing the “subdominant” harmony of B-flat.  The continuation through the slow triplets shifts again upward toward E-flat, but the repeated slow triplets descend and easily move back toward F.  This second statement of the material is particularly heartfelt and warm, despite the mild harmonic deviations.  What sounds like the beginning of another statement turns out to be a cadence on F, and we bid farewell to this surprisingly fruitful theme, which has made three major appearances in a movement where it did not originate.
8:09 [m. 297]--The arpeggios and trill figures in the strings create a shimmering background.  The cellos and bassoons return to the opening turn figure of the finale’s main theme, rising in two statements.  Against it, the flutes, oboes, and horn play the original full-measure “motto” on F and A-flat, with its original harmonies (now in burnished trombones) on the F major chord and the “diminished seventh” chord, thus going all the way back to the very beginning of the symphony.  It is notable how the opening figure from this movement’s main theme fits so smoothly together with the motto.  This is emphasized by harmony on D-flat, associated with both ideas, placed between the major chord and the “diminished seventh” chord. 
8:15 [m. 299]--The pattern is repeated, with the strings an octave higher, the clarinet joining flutes and horn on the “motto” notes, oboes joining the harmony and trombones dropping out.  This time, the motto reaches up to its conclusion on the high F, setting the stage for what inevitably must follow.
8:21 [m. 301]--The way Brahms has prepared for this moment is a display of unparalleled skill.  With the motto reaching up, the main theme of the first movement must follow, and indeed it does, in a transformation that can only be described as a transfiguration.  The harmony in the winds (now without the trombones) has conclusively settled on an F-major chord and will not leave it.  The upper strings play the theme on the top notes of a radiant tremolo.  The second note of the theme is held over a bar line, reflecting the rest in the middle of the measure and the implied 3/2 of the original presentation in the first movement.  The extended descent, with cellos joining, reflects exactly the presentation at the end of the first movement.
8:32 [m. 305]--Again reflecting the end of the first movement, the violas and cellos continue the tremolo and play the last notes in a “straight” descent.  Upon their arrival, the timpanist plays a roll on a low F, sustained for two measures against the F-major harmony in the winds.  Plucked strings articulate the second of these measures and then the held chord in the final measure.  The mirroring of the first movement means that this finale ends quietly, as in fact do all four movements of the symphony.  This may create a headache for concert programmers, but it is inconceivable that this masterpiece could end in any other way.
9:01--END OF MOVEMENT [309 mm.]