As with its companion work op. 88 from 1882, Brahms’s second string quintet was supposed to be completed in the relaxed atmosphere of a summer in Bad Ischl, but eight years later. The work’s first technical try-out in Vienna in October 1890, which Brahms described to his friend Clara Schumann as “not displeasing”, was followed by a fine-tuning of the work in close dialogue with musical friends such as Joseph Joachim before Brahms sent score and parts to his publisher Simrock at the year’s end. With its at times orchestral texture and stirring, typically Brahmsian rhythms, this cheerful work early on won the hearts of listeners and players alike, despite presenting the latter with some challenges.
This new Henle Urtext edition is based on the New Brahms Complete Edition, for which editor Kathrin Kirsch has consulted all the autograph sources and first editions. With an informative preface it offers the best foundation for approaching this jewel of Brahms’s chamber music.