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Thread: Brahms 4 Symphonies on CD - Karajan? Klemperer? Or is the Abbado set worth the money?

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    Senior Member SAKO's Avatar
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    Default Brahms 4 Symphonies on CD - Karajan? Klemperer? Or is the Abbado set worth the money?

    All my Brahms' symphonies are on vinyl and not fantastic performances. I quite fancied buying a set of the 4 on CD, and checking Amazon I've narrowed it down to the sets by Karajan, Klemperer or Abbado.

    The Karajan with the Berlin Phil on DG is the cheapest at less than a tenner, and I surmise is going to be a very good on all levels.

    The Klemperer also gets fab reviews, is more costly at 17, but I'm skeptical of the recording quality of a 1950's performance.

    Lastly is the Abbado set, which gets rave reviews, but how can it possibly be worth the 46 asking price? (I'm sure it must be cheaper somewhere).

    I'm fairly new to Brahms, so haven't heard many variants. I'm sure a lot of you out there have at least one if not all of the above. Where would you put your money?

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    Inactive Carpenoctem's Avatar
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    In this thread you can find some cool suggestions:

    Favorite Brahms Symphony

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    Senior Member NightHawk's Avatar
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    From your list I would choose Klemperer or Abbado - though, you might want to consider the Bernstein/Vienna set - Bernstein and Vienna had great chemistry in performances of Sibelius, Mahler and other great symphonists. I have the Solti Brahms cycle with Chicago and a number of Brahms singles like C.Kleiber's 4th w Vienna, and Berstein's 1st and 2nd w Vienna. I prefer the Kleiber and Bernstein's that I have to anyone else I have heard. Sorry to muddy the water - lots of fine interpretations out there, though. Happy hunting!

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    Senior Member StlukesguildOhio's Avatar
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    My first choice is John Eliot Gardiner:



    These are HIP (Historically Informed Performances) and have a great sense of "transparency" or a clarity in which one hears the interplay between instruments which offers a greater clarity to what often strikes me as the dense or overly lumpen aspects of Brahms' orchestral works. They are also very muscular... and as an added advantage you gain a good number of Brahms' marvelous shorter choral works.

    My other choices include:



    Or if you wish to go with the complete works by a single conductor I would go with Bohm:



    or Karajan:

    Last edited by StlukesguildOhio; Aug-19-2012 at 21:20.
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    Senior Member itywltmt's Avatar
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    Go for Giulini:


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    Senior Member DarkAngel's Avatar
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    The Bruno Walter early 1950s set with NYPO is thrilling with good mono sound, it is nothing like the relaxed 1960s CSO set.....




    Dorati is another set that blows the cobwebs off these warhorses.....





    Also quite like the stereo Jochum set, but requires another purchase to obtain 4th, not sold as complete set


    If you like slow relaxed Brahms these are not for you, all three have brisk lifted tempos and powerful dramatic performances
    Last edited by DarkAngel; Aug-19-2012 at 22:55.
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    Senior Member SAKO's Avatar
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    Well, that gives me a few more to consider.

    I've taken a look at some of the suggestions. The Solti set looks good value for money through Marketplace. The Bernstein I see is live and I'm not a great lover of live recordings. The Gardiner HIP is certainly one to go on the list, and I fancied the Bohm yet the reviews don't seem to brilliant. Giulini is noted as using a slower temp, and I prefer a quicker.

    Still lots of work to do.

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    Senior Member DarkAngel's Avatar
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    SLGO......
    I want those Gardiner performances, but will patiently wait for the boxset to eventually appear
    Last edited by DarkAngel; Aug-19-2012 at 22:53.

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    Senior Member Vaneyes's Avatar
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    HvK Brahms Symphonies, rec. 1964--his most powerful versions.

    51ayHlJYkmL._SL500_AA300_.jpg51yNlJbiavL._SL500_AA300_.jpg51lzaoEMCKL._SL500_AA300_.jpg
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    Senior Member StlukesguildOhio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkAngel View Post
    SLGO......
    I want those Gardiner performances, but will patiently wait for the boxset to eventually appear
    Ah but then you'll miss out on the great packaging of these... not unlike Gardiner's series of Bach's cantatas.
    Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.

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    those not sufficiently prepared. Yes, art is dangerous. Where it is chaste, it is not art.

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    I recommend the Jochum in mono, the live Kleiber 2nd and studio Kleiber 4th, and the 1st on the Karajan Legendary Recordings with the VPO.
    Last edited by brianwalker; Aug-20-2012 at 01:18.

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    Senior Member DarkAngel's Avatar
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    SLGO and others mentioned the Kleiber 4th, a must have I agree




    Also somewhere down the line the mono Furtwangler set for Music & Arts label offers some rare insight
    along with the mono Toscanini for RCA

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    Senior Member powerbooks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkAngel View Post
    SLGO and others mentioned the Kleiber 4th, a must have I agree




    Also somewhere down the line the mono Furtwangler set for Music & Arts label offers some rare insight
    along with the mono Toscanini for RCA

    Good choice. Speaking of mono, I would also like to add Jochum Berlin DG version, just before Karajan taking over the orchestra. Very very good mono sound from the 50s. The 2nd is one of the best version I personally like, especially the wild finale!

    bbb.jpg

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    Senior Member powerbooks's Avatar
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    And RCA/BMG finally release the Levine Chicago version in NA. I got mine from Japan, but here is the bargain box from Amazon:

    bbb.jpg

    http://www.amazon.com/Brahms-Symphon.../dp/B004H6P2LU

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    Senior Member powerbooks's Avatar
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    For newer version, I also like Wand, or even Celibidache:

    bbb.jpg

    bbb.jpg

    And the 1 is on another set.

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