Album: Brahms, Piano Quintet etc/ William Howard, Champs Hill

Brahms's Piano Quintet in F minor had a traumatic birth. Its first incarnation was as a string quartet, its second as a sonata for two pianos.

Only in 1866 did it graduate as a quintet, dark of timbre and strikingly varied in texture. It is a signature work for the Schubert Ensemble, whose direct sound sings vividly here. Pianist William Howard's thoughtful, sepia-tinted reading of the Opus 117 Intermezzi and the second Opus 118 Intermezzo complete the disc, the last as gentle as a kiss.