After ups and downs with Pierre Boulez and Zubin Mehta as music direcotrs, the demoralized New Yrok Philharmonic decided to rebuild by hiring the respected German conductor Kurt Masur. He improved the orchestra's discipline, but at a cost of a decade of incredibly dull performances.
This Brahms First is one of the slowest and least involving ever recorded. It's painfully sodden, and one can only extend sympathy to the musicians who remember the golden days under Bernstein. Recorded sound is fine, as in the orchestra's playing, but does that matter? Masur is the anti-Bernstein, bending over backward to make sure that there's not an ounce of personality and excitement. How fortunate that he has departed.