These performances come from the early seventies, well recorded in analogue, with a good digital transfer in the late nineties. The sound is remarkably warm and full. The Berlin Philharmonic Octet create a wonderful "old world" feel. The playing is fresh and warm, with well integrated detail and superb balance. The fast movements are played with great dynamism and ruggedness. Romantic sloppiness is kept to a minimum, but beauty and warmth shine through when appropriate. The professional critics have let this wonderful set slip from their sights. You have to go back to the 1999 "Penguin Guide" and 2002 "Third Ear Guide" to see it being given glowing reviews. It's a cornerstone of my chamber music collection.
I heard Brahms' Clarinet Quintet on the radio, fell in love with it, and bought this as an MP3 download, which I really like because I can have the music almost instantly. Having listened to the whole disc, I now love the other quintets as well. I'm not a classical music buff, and no doubt there will be those who'll know more about interpretation, etc. who can suggest discs by other players, but I think this one is great value.