You would never guess that these amiable, good-natured pieces were the product of Max Bruch’s declining years, or indeed that they were written at the end of the first world war, when his fellow Germans were facing severe privations at home and defeat at the front. As he sailed serenely past his 80th birthday, he chose to return to chamber music in a late flowering of creative endeavour. The always rewarding Nash Ensemble add warmth and grace to the sprightly String Quintet in E flat major and bring verve and attack to its edgier A minor companion, but it is in the magnificent String Octet that the players finally allow the sun to truly shine. Recommended.
Stephen Pritchard has written on classical music for most of his 45 years in journalism. He was the Observer's first readers' editor, and prior to that was a managing editor and production editor