Album: Brahms, The String Quartets/Nash Ensemble, (ONYX)

Uninspired by his sketches for a Fifth and Sixth Symphony, Brahms intended the G-major Quintet to be his last work. A vibrant synthesis of Magyar snap, Baroque figures and Bohemian lyricism, it is played like a miniature string symphony in this recording from the Nash Ensemble. There's a wonderful physicality to their sound: the violins intensely sweet, the violas pungent, the single cello limber and long-legged. The Schubertian F-major Quintet is a technical tour de force, again beautifully played.