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I know I know, there’s already a thread on Brahms 2nd symphony. But I think this is different. I’m asking for a recording for exploring the work for the first time and i’m going to reference back to said recording. Lately I have been listening to Brahms symphonies and so far I have listened to 1,3 and 4 (4 was what got me into Brahms, then I decided to listen to 3 and I liked it a lot and I am busy with listening to 1 but want to start with 2 in a week or so. I have listened to many 4th’s but like kleiber the most, for 3 I think it’s Walter/Col but I’m not sure because I don’t know the Walter recording well enough to really sample with other ones. For 1 I chose Klemperer as my reference recording and that is still the only one I listened to. I hope you will share your recommandation for a reference recording. If you do I’m looking forward to it
 

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I know I know, there's already a thread on Brahms 2nd symphony. But I think this is different. I'm asking for a recording for exploring the work for the first time and i'm going to reference back to said recording. Lately I have been listening to Brahms symphonies and so far I have listened to 1,3 and 4 (4 was what got me into Brahms, then I decided to listen to 3 and I liked it a lot and I am busy with listening to 1 but want to start with 2 in a week or so. I have listened to many 4th's but like kleiber the most, for 3 I think it's Walter/Col but I'm not sure because I don't know the Walter recording well enough to really sample with other ones. For 1 I chose Klemperer as my reference recording and that is still the only one I listened to. I hope you will share your recommandation for a reference recording. If you do I'm looking forward to it
Karajan BPO 1986 (Deutsche Grammophon) and Monteux LSO 1962 (Eloquence)
 

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Done well, and it's less common than you'd think, this is one of the most exciting works in the literature. The coda of the finale should lift you out of your seat. It should be electrifying. There are too many conductors who just don't know the subtlety involved of when to step on the gas and how much to put on. The recording that I turn back to when I need that extra adrenaline is the 70 year old Bruno Walter with the New York Philharmonic on Sony. Yes, the sound is mono; doesn't matter. What a thrilling performance. Not to be missed. Beats the socks off of Solti, Bernstein, Karajan, Davis, and other newer recordings.
 

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Karajan with the Berlin Philharmonic, Abbado also with the Berlin Philharmonic, Jochum with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Klemperer with the Philharmonia Orchestra are well regarded classic recordings.

The recent Brahms cycle with the Boston Symphony Orchestra with Andris Nelsons also belongs with the great Brahms cycles.
 

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I know I know, there's already a thread on Brahms 2nd symphony. But I think this is different. I'm asking for a recording for exploring the work for the first time and i'm going to reference back to said recording. Lately I have been listening to Brahms symphonies and so far I have listened to 1,3 and 4 (4 was what got me into Brahms, then I decided to listen to 3 and I liked it a lot and I am busy with listening to 1 but want to start with 2 in a week or so. I have listened to many 4th's but like kleiber the most, for 3 I think it's Walter/Col but I'm not sure because I don't know the Walter recording well enough to really sample with other ones. For 1 I chose Klemperer as my reference recording and that is still the only one I listened to. I hope you will share your recommandation for a reference recording. If you do I'm looking forward to it
While I did provide you with a good list of well regarded Brahms recordings in my post above. It seems to me you are overthinking this. Just listen to the recording(s) and enjoy.
 

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Walter/Columbia Symphony, Monteux/London Symphony, Jochum/London Philharmonic are all very fine in the Brahms Second....and so is the mono Walter/New York Philharmonic, whose finale is absolutely remarkable!

I agree with you on the Klemperer/Philharmonia Brahms First, but would also add the outstanding Van Beinum/Royal Concertgebouw performance.
 

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I'd strongly recommend three recordings, but if I were pressed to pick just one, Eugen Jochum's LPO EMI recording would be my 1st choice. When I first started collecting classical music recordings, I asked a composer friend (& notable teacher of composition) about which he considered to be the best recordings of Brahms 4 Symphonies, & he replied that I couldn't do better than Jochum in these works,

--Eugen Jochum, London Philharmonic Orchestra, EMI--you'll have to click on the 2nd symphony below in the link:
. This performance is available in the Jochum Icon box set, which is a terrific deal for its contents, or on an EMI double fforte '2 for 1' release; that is, unless you're looking to download. By the way, my composer friend knew Jochum at Tanglewood in the early 1970s, and told me that he was nicest man he'd ever met who was a conductor.

--István Kertész, Vienna Philharmonic, Decca: Sorry, but there isn't a good sounding copy of this performance on You Tube, however, Kertesz conducted the Brahms 2nd exceptionally well: https://www.prestomusic.com/classic...es-nos-1-4-serenades-nos-1-2-haydn-variations

--Bernard Haitink, Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, Philips/Decca--this is an underrated Brahms 2nd, in my view:
 

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Karajan on DG , first cycle ,Bernstein on DG and the wild card: Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Robin Ticciati, have fun exploring.
 
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Among Brahms 4 symphonies, his 2nd (for me at least) is the most special. This is because it is the most romantic. you are consistently driven by melodies, and unlike the other 3 symphonies. most of the time, Brahms 3rd is always gentle lacks that vicious badass passages that you get in the other symphonies. (the 2nd movement is an exception)

this romantic nature gives conductors a lot of flexibility on the way how they conduct the piece, this is why I highly encourage to listen to as much recordings as possible.

And I highly recommend you to listen to the recording of Celibidache and Simon Rattle
 

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I know I know, there's already a thread on Brahms 2nd symphony. But I think this is different. I'm asking for a recording for exploring the work for the first time and i'm going to reference back to said recording. Lately I have been listening to Brahms symphonies and so far I have listened to 1,3 and 4 (4 was what got me into Brahms, then I decided to listen to 3 and I liked it a lot and I am busy with listening to 1 but want to start with 2 in a week or so. I have listened to many 4th's but like kleiber the most, for 3 I think it's Walter/Col but I'm not sure because I don't know the Walter recording well enough to really sample with other ones. For 1 I chose Klemperer as my reference recording and that is still the only one I listened to. I hope you will share your recommandation for a reference recording. If you do I'm looking forward to it
Furtwangler VPO 1945
 

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I have never listened to Brahms 2nd symphony, which recording should I pick?

Brahms's Second?

When you're done exploring the recommendations given thus far in this thread and you're ready to hear the Brahms Second Symphony the way it was meant to be heard, find a copy of William Steinberg's reading with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

I have it on LP in the Brahms Symphonies box set

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and on CD in the Memories Reverence - MR2249/2250 - box set.

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I prefer the vinyl, but the Memories CD mastering is very good.

You won't find a better Brahms Second than the Steinberg/PSO recording. Unless you have a recording of Brahms conducting the Vienna Philharmonic in modern, updated sound. (The recording doesn't exist.)

There is, however, a "live" recording of Leonard Bernstein conducting the Brahms Second with the Vienna Phil. It's on the Deutsche Grammophon label and is well worth hearing. It's the one Bernstein preferred listening to when he didn't have access to the Steinberg recording. (Okay, maybe I made up that last sentence, but both these recordings -- the Steinberg and the Bernstein -- are gems.)

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I know I know, there's already a thread on Brahms 2nd symphony. But I think this is different. I'm asking for a recording for exploring the work for the first time and i'm going to reference back to said recording. Lately I have been listening to Brahms symphonies and so far I have listened to 1,3 and 4 (4 was what got me into Brahms, then I decided to listen to 3 and I liked it a lot and I am busy with listening to 1 but want to start with 2 in a week or so. I have listened to many 4th's but like kleiber the most, for 3 I think it's Walter/Col but I'm not sure because I don't know the Walter recording well enough to really sample with other ones. For 1 I chose Klemperer as my reference recording and that is still the only one I listened to. I hope you will share your recommandation for a reference recording. If you do I'm looking forward to it
Nor have I...well, not in full, only the opening movement of course.

You could do worse than listen to/watch a live performance on YTB. I found this one sufficiently interesting for me to want to listen again and to get to know it better.

It's Myung-Whun Chung and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France.


(Besides, as you can see from others' recommendations, there's little unanimity.)
 
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