Here are two of Brahms' sunniest, most immediately attractive chamber works in performances to match. One reviewer I've read places the Second Sextet in an inferior position, thinking Brahms was merely repeating himself, trying to recapture the success of the First and just going through the motions. I humbly disagree. In fact, it doesn't seem at all that Brahms was repeating himself.
In the First Sextet, he appears consciously to imitate 18th-century entertainment music, as he did in his roughly contemporaneous First Serenade. In the Second Sextet, written four years later, Brahms appears to be updating the classicism of Mozart and Beethoven, setting a romantic stamp on the clear structures and transparent scoring of his predecessors. This is evident in the weightiness of the first movement development section, or the odd melancholy of the second movement scherzo. Sheer youthful charm has been replaced by something a bit deeper, a bit mellower, hinting at the Brahms to come. This is true of the boisterous trio as well, which gives a foretaste of future folk-tinged music, such as the Liebeslieder Walzes.
The Stuttgarters play with an obvious affection for both works and a clear appreciation of the differences between them. I'm especially impressed with the rich baseline that the Stuttgart cellos and violas provide. The intimate recording is just right as well. Given the budget price, this disk is a bargain and then some.