Completed in 1873, Brahms’s pair of Op. 51 string quartets were the first that he published, but they were underpinned by several earlier attempts which he then destroyed. No. 2‘s opening notes are built on the F-A-E, ‘Frei aber einsam’ (free but lonely) motto of his friend, violin virtuoso Joseph Joachim, whose quartet premiered both works. Classic Brahms elements include the rocking cross-rhythms of the first and especially the final movements. Nods to the quartet tradition of Haydn and Mozart – something Brahms was acutely aware of – include casting the third movement as a minuet. The Op. 26 Piano Quartet premiered in 1862, and its Hungarian-flavoured moments include the mysterious slow movement’s punctuation by a gypsyish outburst set off by the piano, and the energetic finale with its zesty offbeats.