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Brahms: The Complete Symphonies CD

4.8 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Brahms: The Complete Symphonies
  • +
  • Beethoven : Complete Symphonies
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  • Mendelssohn: 5 Symphonies, 7 Overtures (DG Collectors Edition)
Total price: £34.60
Buy the selected items together

Product details

  • Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Herbert von Karajan
  • Composer: Johannes Brahms
  • Audio CD (10 Nov. 1997)
  • SPARS Code: ADD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B000007ODY
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,266 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
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Product Description

KARAJAN HERBERT VON / BERLIN P

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Schumann once described Beethoven's Fourth Symphony as a slender Greek Maiden between two Norse Giants - that's crap if you ask me but even so: the adage lives on. Similarly, Karajan's 1978 Brahms cycle could be likened to a middle child; it has always suffered by comparison with the superlative '63 cycle - not least sonically - whereas the '86-88 cycle has attracted attention because of the performances of the last two symphonies where fatigue beset both the conductor and his orchestra. Elsewhere, Osborne fails to mention this cycle in his biography on Karajan: the silence is telling.

Nor does the Original Image Bit Processing overly revamp the performances. I had the original CDs and there is no marked improvement. In certain instances, the sound is still pancake flat. More on that later.

But what of the interpretations themselves? Karajan was well known for ossifying an interpretation once it had been settled in his mind - even so, the wind blows where it wills - or not.

First, an overarching point: the Berlin Philharmonic play magnificently. At this point in time, they had as much thrust as a Saturn V Rocket. They are almoners of ecstasy. If anyone could have kept up with Furtwangler in the Brahms Third, it was the line-up of the Berlin Phil that Herbie used for this performance of the Second.

Everyone knows that Three is hard to pull off. There is an exquisite ambiguity in the first movement: is it an exposition of power or valediction? The Gramophon is normally caustic towards Karajan in the Third but they hail this performance "as satisfyingly virile and forthright reading. There is no exposition repeat, but the first movement is in every other respect conveyed in masterly fashion . . . .
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Living with, and loving, the Brahms 1st and 2nd recorded by von Karajan in the 1960s I thought I would see what he did in the 70s. The later ones are good, but I feel that in the 1960s version (all with Berlin PO and DGG} he has a greater control on the ensemble playing and just that bit more searching interpretation throughout. Please yourself - at these prices one can afford to have different versions.
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Format: Audio CD
Herbert von Karajan made recordings of the Brahm's Symphonies many times through his long career and this Deutsche Grammophon 2-CD set contains what, by common consensus, is regarded as the most successful set. I'm not so sure about that, as I often find with this particular conductor that the earlier the recording, the better. This late analogue set does sound superb in it's CD incarnation, but I suspect that the original LPs sounded even better.

What I can be clear about is that this 1970s set is more impressive than the late digital set Karajan made Brahms: The 4 Symphonies, although the version of the fourth symphony in that particular set is the same as the one here as, for some reason (probably the congested sound quality), the DDD Brahms 4 was not included in the later compilation Brahms;Symphony No.4.

In 1943, Karajan recorded Brahms 1 with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, a magnificent, tension-filled, recording in subfusc sound Symphony No. 1/Leonore Overture No. 3/Salome (Von Karajan). Then, in 1949, at the instigation of EMI's Walter Legge, Karajan recorded Brahms 2 with the Vienna Philharmoniker on 78s, a performance I really rate highly Brahms: Symphony No. 2 / Strauss: Metamorphosen / Mozart: Masonic Funeral Music.
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Format: Audio CD
Having read superlative reviews of this set over many years, I was glad to buy a copy, looking forward to the best Brahms - despite having almost no other Karajan in my collection. After listening to nos.2 and 3 I realised that HvK and I just don't see eye to eye. His frantic rush to reach the end of finales just doesn't sound right to me, and I wasn't too impressed with the recording of a splendid orchestra either. I swopped them for a copy of Wand, much more to my taste.
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Format: Audio CD
The most impressive thing for me listening to the 3rd Symphony, was the superb sound quality of this recording. The discs have been specially processed to enhance the depth of the orchestra and this works a treat. An excellent value purchase.
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When I started collecting classical records in the late 1960`s artists like Karajan were outside of my price range and I relied on budget price releases and bargain bin deletions . Now some of the weird and wonderful recordings I aquired are highly collectable and can be quite pricey on cd . On the other hand , former full price recordings from the major record companies are often going for a song . Here are terrific recordings of the Brahms symphonies with Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic . What`s not to like .
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