Johannes Brahms often consolidated his mastery of freshly explored domains by writing two examples in a specific genre in quick succession. His output consequently features such complementary couplings as the Piano Quartets nos. 1 and 2, (Op. 25 and 26), the String Quartets Op. 51 Nos. 1 and 2, the Clarinet Trio, Op. 114 and Clarinet Quintet, Op. 115, Six Piano Pieces, Op. 118 and Four Piano Pieces, Op. 119 and, in the field of orchestral music, the Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80 and Tragic Overture, Op. 81. A notable exception to this trend is provided by the two sonatas for cello, which are separated by some 21 years and reflect the composer's changing circumstances: the first is the product of a young man serving notice of his scholarship and maturity, while the second is the work of an older man writing at the peak of his powers with remarkable vigour and intensity.
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