I came across this set of recordings whilst completing a performance practice project. Sir Charles Mackerras takes a different approach to the Brahms symphonies than most interpretations. Using an orchestra equal in size to the one Brahms would have had at his disposal at Meiningen, narrower bore brass instruments and tempi more akin to Brahms (as opposed to the standard, rather Wagnerian interpretation that Brahms receives normally), the result is a recording of new clarity and intimacy. When compared to the broad, expansive style of artists like Herbert von Karajan, the first movement of Symphony No.1 may fighten off Brahms purists - don't be put off just because it's different, listen on! Mackerras' use of Brahmsian rubato makes the slow movements of all the symphonies intensely intimate affairs and the use of the smaller orchestra doesn't take away from the emotional impact of any of the works. Neither does it preclude the power of the louder and faster movements. This is particularly in evidence in the second symphony, benefiting especially from the penetrative nature of the narrow-bore brass instruments; the word "bombastic" springs to mind for the last movement! The sound quality is excellent (recorded using just two microphones placed strategically to capture antiphonal string sonorities) and the performance by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra retains an emotional core whilst being technically accomplished. If you are a true lover of Brahms, get these recordings - you're in for a treat.