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Thread: Ideal Brahms symphony cycle

  1. #46
    Senior Member D Smith's Avatar
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    I too have a problem ranking recordings in general. I prefer to group them in a top tier, which can be decidedly elastic in size. My top tier of Brahms' 4th, for example, would include at least 10 recordings I'm sure, probably more, but I don't attempt to rank them within that group as I love them all for different reasons. These types of discussions are very useful however for pointing out recordings I am unfamiliar with or haven't listened to in a long time, and it's always fascinating to see how differently people can hear the same performance.

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  3. #47
    Senior Member Enthusiast's Avatar
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    ^ Yes, that's how I am too. And I do value recommendations of slightly off the beat candidates (and don't care at all if the recommender call them the best).

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    Senior Member jegreenwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MatthewWeflen View Post
    You won't be disappointed. I've been listening all day since this thread started. The sound quality is exceptional and the interpretations are exciting.
    Found it at Presto for much less than HDTracks - even on sale.

    That was comparing Hi-Rez to Hi-Rez. If you're happy with CD quality or MP3, the price is even less.

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    Senior Member Brahmsianhorn's Avatar
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    Obviously with all the recordings I own I find value in many more than just one. To date, the only Brahms symphony recordings I recall selling off have been the Sanderling/Dresden set, which I found to be well played but rather dull comparatively.

    I do rankings just for fun. Just like ranking your favorite cities does not mean you think all the rest should be destroyed.
    Last edited by Brahmsianhorn; May-10-2019 at 15:59.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brahmsianhorn View Post
    Reiner/RPO is a uniquely beautiful account, though not quite as intense in the finale.
    I love how Reiner's performance "grows" as it progresses...each movement seems to take it higher, then he really cuts loose in the finale, after the middle, chorale section....tremendous power, and clarity....Toscanini's is much the same....

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  9. #51
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    I agree that it's difficult or foreign to some people to rank performances but others find it useful to do as an organisational tool and some readers can find recordings they are unfamiliar with and I do take account of those with similar tastes to mine. Personally I've no problems with those who rank performances. It's a personal preference ans some people really like doing it. Who are we to say that's wrong?
    Last edited by Merl; May-10-2019 at 17:42.

  10. #52
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    Default Brahms symphonies ranked

    I recently went through and compared all of my Brahms recordings (I have over 40 cycles)...these were the results ranked for each symphony.

    1st
    Sieghart (Exton)
    Krivine (Denon)
    Jochum (EMI Japan with London)
    Nelsons (BSO Live)
    Solti (Decca)
    Kobayashi (Exton)
    Rattle (EMI)
    Albrecht (Exton)
    Venzago (Sony)

    2nd
    Ticciati (Linn)
    Albrecht (Exton)
    Mackerras (Telarc)
    Kubelik (Orfeo)
    Jurowski (LSO)
    Jochum (EMI Japan with London)

    3rd
    Janowski (Pentatone)
    Albrecht (Exton)
    Kubelik (Orfeo)
    Chailly (Decca)
    Sawallisch (Philips)
    Jochum (EMI Japan with London)
    Solti (Decca)

    4th
    Thielemann (DG)
    Gardiner (Soli Deo Gloria)
    Albrecht (Exton)
    Orozco-Estrada (Oehms)
    Ticciati (Linn)
    Sieghart (Exton)
    Kleiber (DG)

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  12. #53
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    Kleiber 4 with VPO is choppy.
    1: Chailly, Leipzig Gewandhaus
    2: Masur, Gewandhaus/Bohm VPO
    3: Reiner, CSO
    4: Chailly, Gewandhaus

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  14. #54
    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by happyclassicalfeet View Post
    Kleiber 4 with VPO is choppy.
    1: Chailly, Leipzig Gewandhaus
    2: Masur, Gewandhaus/Bohm VPO
    3: Reiner, CSO
    4: Chailly, Gewandhaus
    Agree about Kleiber's 4th. I find it indecent. Klemperer is much more to my taste. I'll try out the Chailly.
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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    Senior Member AClockworkOrange's Avatar
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    My default response would be the Otto Klemperer cycle with the Philharmonia on EMI/Warner’s. It has been my favourite overall set from first listen. The sound and performance of the Orchestra, the recording and Klemperer’s interpretations are superb for my tastes.

    Skrowaczewski, Bernstein (Vienna), Wand, Celibidache (both Munich and Italian cycles), Boult and Abbado (Berlin) cycles also come to mind but not before Klemperer.

    Piecing together an ideal cycle from individual performances is difficult because my choices will likely change often. There are so many superb performances to choose from.

    At this moment, I would choose the following trying to avoid duplication:
    Symphony No.1: Otto Klemperer & the Philharmonia
    Symphony No.2: Pierre Monteux & the London Symphony Orchestra
    Symphony No.3: Adrian Boult & the BBC Symphony Orchestra (ICA Classics Live Recording)
    Symphony No.4: Leopold Stokowski & the New Philharmonia (BBC Legends Live Recording)
    Last edited by AClockworkOrange; Apr-20-2021 at 00:15.
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  18. #56
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    1: Horenstein/LSO - A no-nonsense reading but with incredible reserves of power and dedication. Just a performance that feels so darned satisfying. I could just as well go with Böhm/VPO, Furtwängler/NDRS, or either Jochum.

    2: Klemperer/Philharmonia - I find Otto a bit too stolid in the 1st and lethargic in the 4th (though I still like them a lot); IMO the 2nd and 3rd are where he really scores. I love how he lets rip in the finale and just lets his orchestra do its thing. Kleiber/VPO on video is also really superb, without the hyper-steroid overload that I feel he often injects: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFeYcZEKpZk

    3: Kempe/BPO - One of the most gripping performances of anything I’ve ever heard; the outer movements have white heat and the middle movements are gorgeous without being sappy. Walter would probably be my runner-up, most likely one of the earlier versions before he mellowed out in the stereo recording.

    4: Abbado/BPO: Yes, I like the famous Kleiber for its searing excitement, but too often I think he sounds a bit superficial. Abbado sounds more natural. Lots of lushness but IMO more unforced pacing and phrasing. But the most astounding to my preference is Furtwängler.
    Last edited by Allegro Con Brio; Apr-20-2021 at 00:31.
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  19. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merl View Post
    I agree that it's difficult or foreign to some people to rank performances but others find it useful to do as an organisational tool and some readers can find recordings they are unfamiliar with and I do take account of those with similar tastes to mine. Personally I've no problems with those who rank performances. It's a personal preference ans some people really like doing it. Who are we to say that's wrong?
    It's also human nature.

  20. #58
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    Brahms 1: Abbado/Berlin Philharmonic; Karajan/Berlin Philharmonic (60's)


    Brahms 2: Walter/Columbia Symphony; Karajan/Berlin Philharmonic (80's); Abbado/Berlin Philharmonic


    Brahms 3: Abbado/Berlin Philharmonic; Walter/Columbia Symphony; Mehta/New York Philharmonic


    Brahms 4: C. Kleiber/Vienna Philharmonic; Szell/Cleveland Orchestra
    Last edited by SearsPoncho; Apr-20-2021 at 04:00.
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  21. #59
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    Considering both sound and performance, my favorite Brahms symphony cycles are:
    1. Karajan 1980s DG
    2. Kertesz VPO
    3. Karl Bohm DG
    4. Abbado DG
    Many may prefer Karajan's earlier sets, but I like his last cycle more, because it has a bit more details and breathing and better balance between instruments in certain sections. His 1960s cycle is a bit too straight forward and in his 1970s the brass sounds a bit dominant (such as in the last movement of the 4th).
    The famous Kleiber's 4th is a bit overrated for me. His approach is generally fast-paced and a bit light-weighted which does not fit into this symphony very well. For example, at the end of the first movement, Kleiber does not use an obvious Ritardando as most conductors do. Also, the last movement sounds a bit rush.
    Sanderling with Dresden is excellent in terms of performance, but the sound is overdone for both high and low frequency (sounds exaggerated).
    Szell's interpretation is generally good, but a bit too straight forward for me. Also, the recordings sound a bit dry and edgy.

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  23. #60
    Senior Member Brahmsian Colors's Avatar
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    Updated favorites (in stereo only):

    Symphony 1

    Van Beinum/Amsterdam (Royal) Concertgebouw
    Klemperer/Philharmonia Orchestra
    Ormandy/Philadelphia Orchestra (1959 version)

    Symphony 2

    Monteux/London Symphony
    Walter/Columbia Symphony
    Steinberg/Pittsburgh Symphony

    Symphony 3

    Kempe/Berlin Philharmonic
    Barbirolli/Vienna Philharmonic
    Solti/Chicago Symphony

    Symphony 4

    Walter/Columbia Symphony
    Van Beinum/Amsterdam (Royal) Concertgebouw
    Reiner/Royal Philharmonic

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