Five essential works by Brahms

We choose the best pieces by the face of Romanticism, Brahms

Brahms best works

Symphony No. 3

Brahms’s finest symphony may not have the fireworks of, say, the Violin Concerto, but its subtle drama and dark atmosphere are magical.


Recommended recording:
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan
DG 477 7159

Ein Deutsches Requiem

Brahms employs full symphony orchestra and chorus for this majestic setting of passages from the Lutheran bible written in response to his mother’s death.

Recommended recording:
Dorothea Röschmann (soprano), Thomas Quasthoff (baritone), Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Berlin Radio Choir/Simon Rattle
EMI 365 3932

Piano Concerto No. 2

This deeply humane concerto was written just after the Symphony No. 3. The slow movement’s use of cello as a ‘second’ solo instrument was innovative.

Recommended recording:
Emil Gilels (piano), Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Eugen Jochum
DG 447 4462

Intermezzi Op. 117

Brahms was a supreme pianist and his solo piano music has extraordinary range and variety. His late Intermezzi, however, are stunningly written miniatures.

Recommended recording:
Nicholas Angelich (piano)
Virgin 379 3022

Violin Concerto

Full of gypsy inflections and wild virtuosity, the Violin Concerto, written in 1879 for Joseph Joachim, is one of the most popular in the repertoire.

Recommended recording:
Nikolaj Znaider (violin), Vienna Philharmonic/Valery Gergiev
RCA 88697103362