I well remember the sheer joy I experienced in performing the Brahms symphonies as an orchestral violinist almost sixty years ago. Since then, I've listened to many live and recorded performances of the Brahms symphonies, yet here, for the first time, I find myself saying 'Yes, these performances are something we've been waiting for and thought would never come'. Forget earlier contenders, whose performances generally only serve to show how little they understand of the music in spite of their reputation. In order not to invite vindictive responses from certain quarters, I shall not name names.
Sir Simon Rattle and the BPO are to be congratulate3d in throwing away the cosy, comfortable interpretations of the past. Recording quality is very good and here surely, we hear the music as Brahms intended it to be heard. Romantic, alternating between strongly accented dynamics and cross rhythms and beguilingly sensuous, memorable melodies. True, the orchestral sound spectrum cannot compete with Berlioz, but Brahms never intended to set himself up as a competitor.
Sorry for the diatribe. Let's keep it simple: your purchase of this box may well be the best thing you've done all year.
A. Howard Thomas.