Johannes Brahms’s two serenades cast a wistful glance onto the musical past. Still barely twenty-five years old, he had stumbled into a severe artistic crisis after his fairytale rise to European celebrity. Following the public failure of the D minor Piano Concerto, on which he had worked for five agonising years, he immersed himself in the stylistic world of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven with the serenades, as if to throw off the high emotional pressure of the concerto and seek a new beginning in the symphonic genre.