The South Birmingham Sinfonia performed this work as part of the Summer 2013 series of concerts.
Brahms' music of course sits diametrically opposite Wagner's. Both can be described as Germanic, and in their own separate ways strongly nationalistic, though Brahms' nationalism pertains just to music. but Brahms' music is firmly based on classical traditions. The influence of Beethoven and Bach are evident throughout Brahms' symphonic works, and certainly in this symphony.
The second symphony, in D major, is pastoral in style. Prior to the first performance Brahms mischievously described it as "melancholy" and said there would not be a dry eye in the house, knowing of course that the opposite would be the case. Many many years later this cheery symphony is still enjoyed by all.
See also Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahms_Symphony_2.