I do not know who the self-styled op131 is. I found his/her now-defunct blog long ago, and I’m very glad that s/he hasn’t taken it down.
Brahms, you old Master! You weaver of dreams, you liar! You encourage my “hopeless romanticism” and you know it! Life is not as colourful as you would have us believe! Of course you know that I know, and I can hear you laughing.
You dear Master, you! You—and the worthless dreams you sell me! No, keep them coming. Weave on and on. Go from here to the depths, then further into the depths, then rise up again—portray that impossibly rich, romantic world as you always do. If only life were really as romantic.
The explosion upon the senses that is the first movement of the Piano Concerto in D minor! This is probably the single movement I have listened to most often. With very few compositions can it be said as emphatically as with this one that words can describe nothing. Yet so strong the impulse is, to tell someone, to tell someone to listen to this first movement! To tell someone how rich life can be! To call someone into this obviously-removed-from-life world!
The old Master cons me again and again into entering here. How powerfully it begins, and how soon he begins spinning his web! Before I know it I am caught, and must wend my way through to the end, just like the last time.
There already is the hint that the finale is pre-planned. That apart, the web from the midpoint to the depths before the close surely find a place in all of music. So intriguing, yet so navigable (after twenty or so listenings). And sure enough, here I am again, just like he wanted me to be – just waiting to see what will open the door.
Oh, the subversive natures here! This is evil at its most sensuous. So many alternate routes, and yet the old-Goat Master instructs the bassoons to insist that all is lost, and that the very depths must be sounded. And of course the piano obliges, and the haunting forty-second descent into the abyss comes about. That forty-second descent is among the most unforgettable, most distinctive minutes in all of music. There is nothing quite like it.
And—lulled into the deep, as planned, the break-out begins, also obviously planned right from the start—and the old Master knows that I knew it! I have seen similar breakouts elsewhere, but the extreme sensuousness, the extreme sound! The effect upon the person is quite unlike anything else and cannot even fall into any of my other categories of experience. It is a category by itself.
Was there any doubt that sound is the true sense, the primeval sense, the glorious sense? Now there is none. Oh, sound, Sound! The piano, its role done, goes away—and those horns, those drums, the entire strings – rise like a gargantuan tidal wave, engulfing the sense, and almost the spirit (but not quite!) All Hail! That final ladder – up, up, higher, higher, glory, glory, glory! The thunder, the sound, the sense! That evil connivance of the sensuous and the spiritual that Brahms achieves—all in his unique frame of removed-from-life romanticism! Higher and higher, insaner and insaner, and the blazing, magnificent closing thunderclap!