String Quartet No. 2 (1873)
Like Schubert, Brahms apparently had many string quartets under his belt before making a published debut. Unlike Schubert, Brahms left no traces by mercilessly destroying what he deemed unworthy (alas, he did this with much of his music, so we have very little information on his creative process since very few sketches of anything exist…). Despite being “firsts”, the two quartets published as Op. 51 in 1873 when Brahms was forty must be considered mature works. And evidence suggests he worked on these quartets over an extended period of time: from 1859 to 1873! Both of his op. 51 string quartets are in the minor key--largely dramatic, rich, and profound works. The second of those two string quartets is heard here (1st movement). This is mature Brahms at his best, to be sure.