It is not difficult to compose. But it is incredibly difficult to cast aside the superfluous notes. (Johannes Brahms) This quotation of Brahms shows his self-critical attitude towards his own compositions. During his whole life Brahms dedicated himself to the central genres of instrumental music - the symphony and the string quartet. As in the case of his First Symphony, he only published his first two string quartets relatively late. When they appeared in 1873 they were soon praised by the critics. The First String Quartet in C minor is deeply serious and marked by restless agitation, tension and energy. The compositional-technical standards of this demanding genre contribute to the work's emotional concentration. The Quartet is not comfortable for the listener, but requires a certain effort on his part to discover the particular fascination of the work as a whole. "Beauty cannot always be easy" (Hermann Deiters). The Brahms contemporary Friedrich Gernsheim corresponded with Brahms their not very extensive exchange of letters bears witness to the mutual appreciation for each other shared by the two musicians. The composer, conductor and teacher Gernsheim, a graduate of the Leipzig Conservatory, left behind an extensive oeuvre in which - as with Brahms - only the genre of opera is missing. His Second String Quartet in A minor appeared just two years after Brahms's string quartets and a comparison between the works in no way shows the younger composer at a disadvantage. One finds the same seriousness, the same sure mastery of form and the same relationship to the great tradition of the genre. In the artistic development of his ideas and the sovereign use of the string quartet's sound possibilities, Gernsheim is in no way inferior to Brahms. The combination of the two works on one recording allows anyone to make a stimulating comparison. The Mandelring Quartet (Sebastian and Nanette Schmidt, violins, Michael Scheitzbach, viola, and Bernhard Schmidt, violoncello), ARD Competition winners, founders and directors of the Hambach Music Festival, dedicate themselves regularly to the works of unknown composers and unusual instrumental combinations alongside the familiar quartet literature.