“Abbado’s approach to Brahms is generally direct, but his control of rhythm and phrase makes the performance instantly compelling” – The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs
Loaded with German Romanticism & including variations on a Bach cantata, Brahms’ final symphony is a remarkable example of his mastery of symphonic composition. A rich, warm work that builds on a sense of movement & intensity right up to the final bars. This release also represents the completion of Bernard Haitink’s celebrated LSO Live Brahms cycle that has included the symphonies, Double Concerto, Tragic Overture & Serenade No 2.
…got this for the Brahms, which is at best a thoroughly decent performance, nothing more - but the highlight is the excellent Beethoven. The ratings reflect the dichotomy of the two performances and their sonics, an average of 4 for sound seems fair - but the Beethoven warrants a 5 for performance.
Admirers of Karajan will probably own most or all of these symphony cycles from what was probably the pinnacle of the conductor's prolific career. However, if you are unfamiliar with Karajan's work, or well enough acquainted with it to desire further exploration, then this amazingly inexpensive anthology can be enthusiastically recommended. I purchased all of these sets when they came out in DG's previous mid-priced "Karajan Symphony Edition," and I can testify to their consistently oustanding quality, both as performances and as interpretations. As recordings, however, it must be admitted that the sound is of variable quality; sometimes admirably vivid and well balanced, but frequently tending toward harshness, even garishness–particularly in those which come from the early digital era (cf. Bruckner's symphonies 1-3). Too bad Universal didn't see fit to give this magnificent legacy a sonic facelift. Still, the performances are sufficiently worthy of your attention to warrant purchase regardless of these sonic limitations.
Ossy Renardy's real name was Oskar Reiss, but when touring Italy as a young teenager, he changed his name - on the instigation of his first manager - into Ossy Renardy. This artist's name should give him more fame than the serious and stiff Viennese 'Oskar Reiss'