Both orchestra and conductor have Brahms music woven into their DNA and this set yields the alchemical gold born of Abbado's scholarship and love of the music, fused with the radiance of the BPO's effulgent brass and radiant lustre of the Berlin strings. Many may prefer Karajan's 70's recordings for their dramatic bravura performances, but Abbado's are deeply considered readings, intended to evoke a somewhat different emphasis, to which the BPO have responded with their usual mix of virtuosity and nuance allied to a near unparalled experience of this material.
It has been argued that this is a very expensive set - and so it is - but I would contest that this is Brahms presented in a new light. Not only that, but the overtures, rhapsodies and variations not only represent added value, but present the materials in context in a way that is in itself fairly novel. The quality of the recorded sound is superlative in every particular, you just have to open your ears.