The Mandelring Quartet has recorded the string quartets of Brahms on a series of CDs in which one Brahms quartet is paired with a quartet by a lesser-known contemporary. This is Volume 1; Volumes 2 and 3 paired the other Brahms quartets with works by Heinrich von Herzogenberg and Otto Dessoff. While the Mandelring performances of the Brahms quartets are excellent, the real reason to acquire this disc is for the premiere recording of the quartet by Friedrich Gernsheim (1839-1916). Well respected during his lifetime, Gernsheim quickly faded into oblivion after his death, partly by being written off as a sterile imitator of Brahms, partly by a concerted effort in Nazi Germany to ban all performances of his music and to withdraw and destroy all copies of his works held in libraries due to his being a Jew. Only very recently has there been an effort to rediscover his music. While it does indeed sound extremely Brahmsian, unlike with von Herzogenberg it is not merely the work of a mediocre epigone. It has its own hallmarks of individually, and (what is more) is uniformly composed with great technical exactitude and no small degree of thematic and harmonic imagination. His four symphonies are all well-crafted, and a recent recording of his two piano quartets discloses music that is nothing short of phenomenal. If you are minded to try Gernsheim, get the CD of piano quintets (on Toccata Classics) first; once you do, you won't hesitate to add this lovely work to your chamber music collection as well.