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.
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan
DG 477 7159
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.
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.
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.
Nicholas Angelich (piano)
Virgin 379 3022
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.
Nikolaj Znaider (violin), Vienna Philharmonic/Valery Gergiev