I am surprised to find no previous reviews for this lovely disc; it was warmly received on its appearance in 1993 and has been a favourite of mine since I first looked for a CD replacement for the excellent "Classics for Pleasure" issue on LP.
Listening to, and reviewing, the 'Cello Sonatas prompted to return to it and I was not disappointed. I should hardly have been surprised by the energy, attack and precision of the playing given that the chamber ensemble is made up of members of the Academy of St Martin-in-the Fields headed by the estimable Kenneth Sillito, but it's always a pleasure to find that a recording is as good as one remembers. The 1992 recording, made at Snape Maltings, is full and rich with something of the hall ambience about it.
This is comparatively early Brahms but already evincing his trademark characteristics: a warm, virile lyricism alternating with bitter-sweet melancholy and heroic determination. The scrupulous craftsmanship is there, too: Brahms makes much of the variations of the noble theme in the slow movement of No. 1 and in the first movement of No. 2, the recurring ascending figure which spells out "AGADHE" (in German notation), i.e "Agathe" - the name of the woman whose engagement he broke off - is exploited in masterly fashion. Tempi, phrasing and intonation seem ideal to me - one to buy.