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74 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Interpretations of Brahms 1-4, 24 Jun. 2005
This review is from: Brahms: The 4 Symphonies (Audio CD)
What we get here are four powerfull readings that are assured, controlled deep and meaningfull. Syphonies 1-3 are taken from the Digtial Era [i.e. 1980's] and the 4th Symphony dates from 1978. Placing the 4th Symphony taken from the 1970's placed alongside the Digital recordings does not make sense - my guess is that the Digital 4th Symphony version could not be accomated to fit this 2CD-set.
Brahms Symphony No. 1 [rec 1987]
- this particular version beats all the previous recordings that Karajan commited to record - and beats every other possible recording of this Symphony by any other conductor. The only competitor for the No. 1 spot is Klaus Tennstedt.
Brahms Symphony No. 2 [rec 1987]
- a sure footed well played and a well engineered recording of this symphony.
Brahms Symphony No. 3 [rec 1989]
- a well executed performance and descent recording of a symphony that appears to elude that 100% definitve recording anywhere. In the abscence of the definitive recording - this 1989 recording is more than recomendable.
Brahms Symphony No. 4 [rec 1978]
A passionate and fire driven performance of Symphony No. 4 that has few faults and all that one could wish to hear in this work.
In conclusion - If your looking for a Brahms - Syms 1-4 you can't go wrong with this set. The Brahms - Sym No. 1 here is the definitive recording and none so far have been able to exceed its excellence. An unmissable opportunity!
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 27 Jun 2009, 17:20:35 BST
Indeed, this is my ONLY Brahms SET. I have individual accounts from Bohm and Judd, but the First is probably the best symphony of the four Brahms wrote (IMHO). This set of recordings has been with me for about seven years and it is gorgeous. The sound perhaps isn't always as clean as it could be, but when you get to around the middle of that mercurial first movement of the First, you feel like your in musical heaven. The sounds the BPO make are sumptuous, clean in attack and full of drama. This set is really a gem. The No. 4 is also very commanding and well recommended.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jun 2010, 00:50:18 BST
Last edited by the author on 26 Jun 2010, 00:53:57 BST
There's a superlative 'live' recording by Karajan/BPO of Brahms Symphony No. 1 on Japanese DG; it was recorded in Tokyo in May 1988 and I urge all admirers of the conductor to hear it (you can find it at www.hmv.co.jp). I have all eight CD versions by Karajan, and I'm tempted to rate the Tokyo version the highest of them all, though each of the eight recordings has its own individual merits.

The May 1988 Brahms 1 recording is part of a set of three Japanese DG discs (available separately) which documents three 'live' BPO/Karajan concerts, also including Mozart 29 & 39, Beethoven 4, Mussorgsky/Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition & Tchaikovsky 6. The Tchaikovsky (NOT to be confused with a 1950s Japanese DG recording of this symphony by Karajan with a Japanese orchestra) is the ninth version of this symphony by Karajan which was released on CD and is extraordinarily intense, blowing sky-high the myth that his later recordings showed any routine.
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