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  • J. Brahms - The Symphonies
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J. Brahms - The Symphonies Box set, Original recording remastered

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Product details

  • Audio CD (30 Jan. 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • Format: Box set, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • ASIN: B000023Y19
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 536,927 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Disc 1:

Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Brahms: Symphony No.1 in C minor, Op.68 - 1. Un poco sostenuto - Allegro - Meno allegro13:13Album Only
Listen  2. Brahms: Symphony No.1 in C minor, Op.68 - 2. Andante sostenuto10:01Album Only
Listen  3. Brahms: Symphony No.1 in C minor, Op.68 - 3. Un poco allegretto e grazioso 5:39£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Brahms: Symphony No.1 in C minor, Op.68 - 4. Adagio - Piu andante - Allegro non troppo, ma con brio - Piu allegro18:32Album Only

Disc 2:

Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Brahms: Symphony No.2 in D, Op.73 - 1. Allegro non troppo14:45Album Only
Listen  2. Brahms: Symphony No.2 in D, Op.73 - 2. Adagio non troppo - L'istesso tempo, ma grazioso11:15Album Only
Listen  3. Brahms: Symphony No.2 in D, Op.73 - 3. Allegretto grazioso ( Quasi andantino) - Presto ma non assai 5:15£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Brahms: Symphony No.2 in D, Op.73 - 4. Allegro con spirito 9:42£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Brahms: Symphony No.3 in F, Op.90 - 1. Allegro con brio - Un poco sostenuto - Tempo I 9:13£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Brahms: Symphony No.3 in F, Op.90 - 2. Andante10:14Album Only
Listen  7. Brahms: Symphony No.3 in F, Op.90 - 3. Poco allegretto 6:10£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Brahms: Symphony No.3 in F, Op.90 - 4. Allegro 9:20£0.79  Buy MP3 

Disc 3:

Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Brahms: Symphony No.4 in E minor, Op.98 - 1. Allegro non troppo12:56Album Only
Listen  2. Brahms: Symphony No.4 in E minor, Op.98 - 2. Andante moderato12:59Album Only
Listen  3. Brahms: Symphony No.4 in E minor, Op.98 - 3. Allegro giocoso - Poco meno presto - Tempo I 6:23£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Brahms: Symphony No.4 in E minor, Op.98 - 4. Allegro energico e passionato - Più allegro10:29Album Only

Disc 4:

Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Brahms: Symphony No.4 in E minor, Op.98 - Rehearsal - 1. Allegro non troppo27:44Album Only

Product Description

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Philoctetes TOP 500 REVIEWER on 11 Oct. 2006
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This tends towards being too expensive for what is in fact three discs plus a (bonus!) rehearsal CD, and two poorly-filled discs as well when Symphonies 1 & 4 each have no coupling. But then Celi is a special case, so some may be willing to pay. Like me for instance.

Here are analogue stereo recordings from the 1970s, with Celi and the Stuttgart orchestra at home and on tour, in what prove to be dedicated and exciting performances (more so than the Munich recordings) but not quite worth the outlay, I'd have to say with hindsight. If the price drops, invest by all means. I found Celi's singing along during No.1 irritating, but the other three symphonies had no such problems. Finding great stereo Brahms recordings is not as simple as it sounds, so...what the hell, I'm going to boost my rating to four stars. Grab this box while you can.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 11 reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Not as good as the EMI set 18 Jun. 2000
By "lampros" - Published on
Format: Audio CD
These are of course great performances of these symphonies, but IMO the EMI set with Celi and his Muncherner philarmoniker is absolutly unsurpassed. The Stuggart orchestra is not as good as the bavarian one, and the sound being good is not good enough for what Celibidache demmands. of course these performances being slow are not as radical and metaphysical as the ones from the late 80's and 90's.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Mid-Seventies Celibidache is more 'normal' and perhaps better 2 Sept. 2006
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on
Format: Audio CD
It's not right to typify a great musician with a simple tag, but it happens, and as a result Klemperer is known as 'slow' and Celibidache as 'slowest.' However, here in Stuttgart between 1974 and 1978, a decade ahead of the Brahms cycle released by EMI, the tempos are not eccentrically slow. They're on a par with Bernstein's later Brahms cycle from Vienna (also on DG), but in most movements about 2 min. faster than Celi in Munich. Your reaction will depend on whether you find this idiosyncratic maestro better when he's full tilt into his obsessions or only halfway there.

Personally, I like the DG cycle better in that it remains within hailing distance of Brahms' actual tempo indications. The readings are full of conviction, and Celibidache's rubato and highly musical phrasing stand out better when the ear isn't burdened by ultra-slow speeds. A good touchstone is the finale of Sym. #1, where many conductors miss the sense of mystery and anticipation that Brahms builds in the slow introduction. Celi handles it wonderfully, and when we get to the main Allegro, he conducts with plenty of inner life.

There are times when the tempos are relatively alike in both the EMI and DG cycles. The Fourth Sym., which differs by only a minute per movement, shows up some stylistic differences. There's a surging accelerando in the first movement from Stuttgart that's gone in Munich. The finale of the Fourth has more tension in Stuttgart, too. But those who prefer the Munich orchestra and EMI's sonics are right. The Stuttgart radio orchestra is not as good, especially in the solo winds, and DG's sound is serviceable FM stereo, not the studio-quality sound one hears from Bavaria (although it, too, was taped in concert).

Since I mostly care about interpretation, I had no trouble preferring the earlier DG cycle, but I can see how Celi's afficianados could come to the opposite conclusion.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Completely fulfilling and often surprising Brahms from Celibidache. 30 Mar. 2014
By Recolation - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Sergiu Celibidache was, as most of you already probably know, an exceptionally odd conductor. His refusal to engage in studio recordings is all the more regrettable considering how great of a conductor he was, but, thankfully, there are plenty of live recordings for us to eat up now, and the ones one DG paint a very different picture of this great artist in comparison to the EMI recordings.

As far as I'm concerned, Celibidache was fantastic in every way before he went on to become the principle conductor of the Munich Philharmonic. I find myself completely absorbed in the recordings with his Stuttgart Orchestra (and the Swedish Orchestra!), whereas I find myself very disappointed in nearly every Munich recording I've heard him in. The problem, of course, is tempi. Now, for one reason or another, Celibidache's tempi went to glacial levels when he moved to Munich. There was always a bit of 'heaviness' in some of his interpretations, but nothing compared to what was coming. The Brahms recordings included on this set show a different side of Celibidache than what most are accustomed to. His Brahms is flowing, at times a bit manic, and while Celibidache's interpretive decisions may raise some eyebrows--especially some of his accents (check out 3:07 of the first symphony's first movement!)--they are always extremely satisfying even if they are a bit bizzare. I don't know how anyone could call Celibidache's Brahms here 'normal' (unless they were strictly talking about tempi) as the choices in terms of orchestral balances and accents are enough to completely separate him from the 'norm'. Hell, I might even suggest that these choices he makes are 'fun', a word, had I only restricted myself to Celibidache's EMI recordings, I would've never associated with this artist. Indeed! Celibidache's Brahms is fun! Listen to the First symphony's opening movement and skip to 6:10 and see how Celibidache rides this part of the symphony. It's almost like a roller-coaster! I attribute this to Celibidache's excellent sense of orchestral balance. It's nigh perfect, and I don't think I've ever heard the winds and the strings speak together in such beautiful unison. Celibidache also understands how to build a climax perfectly, as he goes from little more than a whisper, to building and building up volume, more and more and more, until it sounds as if the music were about to burst. And, during these building climaxes you get Celibidache's charming karaoke accompanying the orchestra. He shouts something along the lines of "A DE A DE A DE." It's, as I said, great fun. Though oddly enough Celibidache seems to abandon the karaoke in the 4th symphony and instead just breaths heavily. Some may find Celibidache's interpretive choice to turn Brahm's symphonies into orchestral lieder distracting, but it's rather easy to look past if you don't enjoy it. It isn't THAT loud and in some cases you aren't bound to notice unless you're listening for it.

The recorded sound here is never less than 'good' and I actually find it preferable (in terms of miking anyway) to many over-produced studio recordings also made around this time. Although DG's sound seems to have relied a bit too much on 'denoising' the audio, so the high end is probably not as good as it should be. Nevertheless the quality is nearly consistent throughout, and there isn't really much to complain about in regards to to the sound quality.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Actually, this is better than the EMI set. 8 Jan. 2012
By Stephen Grabow - Published on
Format: Audio CD
The EMI sets of the Munich Philharmonic are generally presumed to be superior to the DGG sets of the Stuttgart Orchestra under Celibidache because of the superiority of the Munich Phil. Certainly David Hurwitz is adament on this point, although the Grammophone Classical Review of the Brahms cycle prefers the Stuttgart version. Having both sets, I can say with certainty that this 3-CD set on DG is Celibidache's finest version of the Brahms cycle for it's lyricism, long line, and orchestral sound. By comparison, the EMI Munich version is sluggish, thick and lacking in those magical moments that only Celi seems to create in abundance in the Stuttgart version. This set joins the great cycles of Walter (NYP, 1951-3), Klemperer (Philharmonia), Sanderling (Berlin), the new one by Bychkov (Cologne) and individual performances of #1 by Furtwangler (Hamburg, 1951) and Giulini (Los Angeles) and #4 Furtwangler (BPO in Wiesbaden, 1949) and Blomstedt (Dresden) as among the greats.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
All but Symphony 4 are superb, and the sound defies its age completely 20 July 2014
By Joseph Kline PhD, MD - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Sergiu Celibidache, the generally accepted master of slow, believed that slower tempi enabled the listener to have a "transcendent experience" in response to the music. Reportedly indeed, his concert-goers sometimes received that very benefit. To be fair, Celibidache would be as likely to take fast tempi faster than the accepted norm as well. Despite the criticism of tempi taken, few can deny that this conductor possessed the almost magical ability to bring a fresh perspective to much that he conducted. In the present DG set of Brahms four symphonies, Celibidache leads the SWR Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra in performances recorded in 1974, 1975, and 1976. These recordings have been remastered using original bit processing which, according to Penguin Guide, "... show[s] a distinct improvement over previous incarnations of these recordings on CD: the remastering more naturally reflects the ambient warmth and fullness of the analogue LP pressings, though the focus is firmer."

Brahms Symphony 1 tempi are only slightly slower than the norm for the 1st movement. Reviewer SFL has noted Celibidache's preference for legato playing, and this preference is most clearly articulated (and missed) in the 1st movement. Even with the legato, however, the conductor gives us one of the most magical performances that I have heard in my 60 years of listening to music. In fact, the same can be said for each movement of this symphony. The 2nd movement Andante sostenuto is as tender as one can imagine. The 3rd movement flows seamlessly but ebbs are there as well, so the music feels as natural as breathing, this in no small part due to Celibidache's perfect phrasing. In the 4th movement, the gravitas of the initial Adagio is not overdone as is not uncommon with other conductors. When finally the pace advances to the sublime and moving theme of the movement, that transcendental experience mentioned earlier becomes a reality. Celibidache had few peers when it came to understanding the overarching idea of a musical work, and he demonstrates that understanding so well in the final movement. The tempi perfectly serve the music and its intensity. The final minutes of the symphony have rarely been played with more conviction and emotion - EXCEPT in his EMI recording that is even more convincing! You MUST here that recording!!!

The remaining symphonies are accorded the same benefits of perfect phrasing, tempo, and tenderness when called for that is heard in the First Symphony. The Second Symphony is the most gentle of Brahms' four symphonies. The 1st movement of Symphony 2 is alive with all three attributes. The 3rd movement has never been more sweetly played. The 4th movement explodes with intense (but not overdone) exuberance. There are times when you wish the tempo could be slightly faster, but Celibidache is never more than slightly slower than other conductors. And don't think that Celibidache is opposed to urgent intensity, for he plays it to the hilt in the final measures.

Symphony 3 has always been a favorite of mine, and it is given the most loving of treatment. Celibidache is also a master of flow, and nowhere is this demonstrated better than in the 1st movement. The 2nd movement's opening is almost a prayer of thanksgiving in the hands of Celibidache. The sweet joy of the movement is indescribably delicious, while the doubts expressed in minor key are equally melancholic. Fortunately, the joy always comes to the rescue. When the low strings carry the melody, the violins produce an overhead sky that is a perfectly sublime accompaniment. This movement demonstrates the superb sense of orchestral balance the Celibidache possessed. The 3rd movement is the testament to the beauty and calm tenderness of all things melancholic. Once again, Celibidache seems proficient in producing an inner experience quite beyond the music itself. The opening of the 4th movement begins the transition from the tender melancholy of the 3rd movement to an ultimate resolution of minor key to joyful major key, but not before the melancholy reveals its depths of intense anguish and despair. Finally and at the last minute, Brahms allows us to see major key prevail, and Celibidache conveys that quiet beauty perfectly.

Celibidache's least convincing interpretation is Symphony 4 which is too tame for my ears. The final measures demonstrate the problem perfect. The emphatic attacks of the 1st movement's final chords under Celibidache's baton lack conviction entirely. The 2nd movement fares no better, plus the tempo doesn't help. The 3rd movement has more energy but the soft attacks make you want to ask if this symphony really matters. The tempo of the 4th movement is slower than usually taken. Add to this the soft attacks and you have a recipe for insignificance. I am certain that the interpretation was well thought out. I just can't decipher it. There is some redemption in the final minutes of the 4th movement, but it doesn't compensate for what preceded it.

This set of Brahms Four Symphonies is distinguished by its interpretations, performances, and sound. Celibidache gives us profound readings of each symphony. He correctly understands the gravitas of the First Symphony, but he does not allow that gravitas to overwhelm the music. (BUT his EMI recording is even greater!) The Second has never received a more tender performance. The Third is an interplay of moods, and Celibidache reads it perfectly. In the Fourth, I am at a loss for words - almost! This is the only symphony in Celibidache's stellar Brahms symphony cycle that clearly misses the mark. The sound of the set is simply superb and completely defies its age. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!
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