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on 29 April 2015
First of all the recording. I had the CDs but was tempted by the low price of the blu ray on Amazon market place - less than I paid for the 3 CDs, which I shall now pass on or sell. The sound is definitely preferable and I had no problems getting it to play through my cheap Sony blu ray player and the DAC of my SACD player. Stereo only, which is fine for me. As for the performances - my favourite conductors of Brahms treat it like Beethoven rather than Mahler or Elgar. So I like Jochum in general and Bruno Walter in the 3rd (awful when taken too slowly). Chailly is generally slightly faster than Jochum (EMI) though the latter was very fast with the BPO on DG. The result is bracing in the louder and faster passages, which is good, and yet they perform the slower or quieter sections with great beauty. Chailly's approach is excellent in the 3rd, as good as Walter's, and if the 2nd is supposed to be too fast it is worth noting that it is only a tiny bit longer overall than Haitink (LSO). So ignore the negative reviews and enjoy!
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on 4 October 2017
After reading all the hype I was really expecting something very different from what I heard here. Admittedly the version that I had before was Von Karajan and the Berlin Symphony Orchestra so probably I was naïve in my expectations - it is almost the same interpretation! But I did expect that at least I would get the symphonies in sequence .Instead disc 1 we have symphonies 1and 3 and disc 2 symphonies 2 and 4 - like the Karajan version, but that had been transposed from records in the 70's!
In short if you have Karajan save your money.
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on 5 November 2016
One of the best
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on 13 July 2014
This set immediately strikes you with the following attributes:

1 There is a very powerful and beautiful distinction between loud and soft passages. In loud we get a nice clear and powerful orchestra on full charge. In soft we nice delineated spacious acoustic orchestra with distinction of the various orchestral forces in play

2 The dynamics of the recording revealed very clearly the working of the beautiful orchestral that Brahms has created. Further enhanced is the clearly engineered Decca recording, and the point of details that Chailly has fully revealed.

3 The pulse and pushing forward of the Brahms symphonies on this recordings i consider to be perfect, there is no lag, its very dynamic with constant ebb and flow.

I own many set of Brahms recordings including Karajan 60, 70 and 80s, Klaus Tennstedt Sym 1, Klemperer 1-4 and Rattle 1-4, Kleiber 4. I would rate the Chailly in front of all the whole batch, three main reasons:

1 the clear modern recordings
2 pulse and beat of the music conducted by Chailly
3 the inner detail[s] that i had not spotted on other recordings

I have not mentioned CD 3 as i have not yet listened to that.

Conclusion based on Symphonies 1-4 only.
I love this set and would be prepared to dispense with all other sets and keep this one only. It has everything going for it. I note the CD's [3] come in a booklet form package type packaging, practical and very nice.
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on 17 October 2014
At some point it became fashionable to sneer at Brahms and see his output as stolid and unimaginative. I remember reading Hermann Hesse take a pop at him in 'Steppenwolf' from 1927. Benjamin Britten famously was less than enthusiastic calling the First Symphony "ugly and pretentious", the Second, "dull, ugly, gauch" [sic] (from Britten's diaries).

These new recordings from Chailly and the Leipzig Gewandhaus surely dispel any lingering doubts about Brahms' achievements. The description of Chailly's approach being akin to an art restorer's wiping away the accretions of time from the surface of an Old Master painting to reveal the light and colour beneath are appropriate. The reputation for Brahms to be a dependable but unimaginative orchestrator are shown to be incorrect, the 'burnished autumnal' scoring more of a cliche than reality. I certainly felt his scoring was closer to Dvorak's masterly palette than I had previously imagined. I also enjoy the way Chailly gets Brahms to DANCE - he's a Romantic old rogue after all!

I may have preferences for other interpretations in individual symphonies - certainly I would not go without Abbado's impassioned performance of the First Symphony with the Berlin Philharmonic - but as a boxset it is superb and deserves the awards it has garnered.
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on 5 November 2014
These are performances that make you sit up and question if you have ever really heard these works before.......
no matter how well you think you know them.
They are bursting with glorious playing and part writing I have not noticed before... and the energy and forward
propulsion are breath taking.
All the praise that has been heaped upon this issue is fully deserved.
Sadly, I had an issue with one of the discs .... by the supplier - david76297 - gave the best customer care I have come across for a very long time.
Do not hesitate to buy this set ....no matter how many Brahms Symphony Cycles you have.
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on 20 September 2014
It may be a matter of personal taste but I find this style of performance too lean and frenetic. Brahms' music should sing. Eugen Jochum and Bruno Walter make the music sing. Their phrasing is affectionate. To me, deromanticizing romantic music makes no sense. It robs the music of its lyricism and grandeur. In my view, both Chailly and Gardiner are guilty of this sin.
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on 20 September 2014
Warm and passionate. I am hearing Brahms like I never heard it before.
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on 31 May 2014
The symphonies of Brahms are no doubt among the most loved and played masterpieces of the symphonic repertoire. These wonderful but challenging symphonies have been tackled by almost all the leading conductors. İn fact, the discography is really impressive. Fine performances abound. But what about great performances? Perhaps not too many! The Chailly set is certainly fine. All the symphonies are beautifully played. The recording quality is generally good, if not at audiophile standards. But somehow this cycle falls short of greatness. For greatness, I would turn to Abbado with the Berlin Philharmonic, Sanderling with the Staatskapelle or Karajan with the Berlin Philharmonic. For a truly monumental performance of the first symphony try Klemperer with the Philharmonia and for a benchmark rendering of the fourth symphony marked by an unsurpassed clarity of texture and profundity of approach try Kleiber with the Vienna Philharmonic.
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on 10 October 2015
I have always had a bit of a problem with 'old-style' Brahms performances - listening to recordings in vain for details I could see plainly in the scores. Granted, some of this could have been due to limitations of earlier recording techniques (and my playback equipment), but even live performances seemed to be infected by the desire to make Brahms' orchestration 'sepia', rather than 'coloured'. Here at last we have a set of performances that show Brahms' orchestration in full colour - and what a glorious revelation it is. But there is much more here than just the 'sound of the sound' - combined with Chailly's imaginative and authoritative interpretations, a top-notch orchestra and excellent recording, at times it almost feels like discovering a new composer! There are other reviewers who point out issues they have with the set, but these seem slight when compared with the many glories on offer from these fresh-sounding performances. I have other recordings of these works, but this set now takes pride of place. Highly recommended.
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