Thomas Adès’s Brahms for baritone and orchestra (2001) is a setting of Alfred Brendel’s poem ‘Brahms II’ in which the malodorous ghost of Brahms stalks a house and plays the piano late at night. Adès described this playful, but serious, piece as an ‘anti-homage’ and in it he seeks to take Brahms’s melodic and harmonic tics – such as sequences based on descending thirds, and densely contrapuntal textures – to ‘logical’ extremes. The tone of the work is never narrowly sarcastic, however. Instead, the limitations of the logic of Brahms’ material are used to great expressive effect. In revealing what he sees as the ‘disability’ of Brahms’ musical language, Adès creates a compelling dramatic miniature in its own right, at once irreverent and profound.