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One from left field - Fricsay/VPO. It's coupled with an absolutely ravishing Alto Rhapsody. I thought I had all four by Walter and I do but its a strange mix. 1&4 with Col SO and 2&3 with the NYPO. I was sure I had all four with the Col SO so I'll have to rummage through my CDs. They certainly aren't on my external SSD.

Listening to the Monteux via Qobuz as I'm typing this, what a beautiful sound he creates with the LSO.
 

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If it's still available, the Halle Orch.conducted by James Loughran. I'm very fond of both their Brahms and their Beethoven and would have thought they'd make ideal first versions from which maybe to branch out later.
 

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There are so many first rate recordings of this and the other three Brahms symphonies it's hard to choose just one . But I've always loved the set of all four with Karl Bohm and the Vienna Philharmonic on DG . They have a romantic glow that is irresistible , and the V.P.O sounds truly radiant .
 

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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.
I agree that the NYPO/Walter record is superb. And in my humble opinion so is Walter's later stereo recording with the Columbia SO. That one is my favourite.
 

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A historical one I loved recently - Edward van Beinum/Concertgebouw, one of those historicals on a bunch of different labels, but it's great sound for the time.
 

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I came to Brahms' symphonies through Klemperer and later also got Walter (CSO) and van Beinum. However the second symphony always eluded me until I heard Boults understated, classical reading, so for this symphony in particular I would recommend Boult.
 

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Bernd Alois Zimmermann
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Big fan of HvK’s 86 recording with the BPO. One of his most subtle, supple recordings. Don’t rate the Monteaux LSO recording at all. Terrible audio quality… throw it in the skip…
 

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Discussion Starter · #48 ·
Big fan of HvK’s 86 recording with the BPO. One of his most subtle, supple recordings. Don’t rate the Monteaux LSO recording at all. Terrible audio quality… throw it in the skip…
I have heard that that recording is very good. One of Karajan’s most admired Brahms recordings right alongside his 63 recording of the 1st
 

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Historical: Furtwängler VPO 1945 (F.'s last performance before going into exile, superb performance in pretty good sound)
Studio: Walter CSO or Barbirolli VPO (I don't care what anyone says, I love Barbirolli's Vienna cycle)
Live (video): Kleiber VPO 1988 (the one performance that beats them all, i.m.o., I value it even higher than his famous Brahms 4 - too bad it's impossible to get as audio only...)
 

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Discussion Starter · #52 ·
Historical: Furtwängler VPO 1945 (F.'s last performance before going into exile, superb performance in pretty good sound)
Studio: Walter CSO or Barbirolli VPO (I don't care what anyone says, I love Barbirolli's Vienna cycle)
Live (video): Kleiber VPO 1988 (the one performance that beats them all, i.m.o., I value it even higher than his famous Brahms 4 - too bad it's impossible to get as audio only...)
Is the Kleiber from 1988 not a radio broadcast? I have the Carlos Kleiber DVD Legend box including a performance of Brahms’ 2nd that I believe stems from 1991
 

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Is the Kleiber from 1988 not a radio broadcast? I have the Carlos Kleiber DVD Legend box including a performance of Brahms’ 2nd that I believe stems from 1991
It's rather confusing, I've got the Philips DVD with Mozart 36 and Brahms 2, can't find a recording date on it, could be 1991 - but Wikipedia says the 1991 performances of the same repertoire were with the Bavarian State Orchestra? It's clearly the VPO though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #54 ·
It's rather confusing, I've got the Philips DVD with Mozart 36 and Brahms 2, can't find a recording date on it, could be 1991 - but Wikipedia says the 1991 performances of the same repertoire were with the Bavarian State Orchestra? It's clearly the VPO though.
It’s definitely the VPO, and I have heard that the 1988 radio broadcast is better than the 1991 performance
 

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Discussion Starter · #56 ·
That would make it something like the holy grail of Brahms 2nd's then!
Too bad it seems out of print (a Memories Excellence twofer).
I feel like Kleiber is the holy grail of conductors. A shame he didn’t record more. I watched a documentary about him and the people that knew him said that it was because he didn’t actually like conducting. I agree that his Brahms 2nd is even more valuable than his Brahms 4th. I also like his Schubert 8 more than his famous Beethoven 5
 

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Hi Eva, Try Abbado with BPO or Nelsons with Boston SO. Of course Karajan's version is still one of the best as well but as a young person you will probably like more recent versions. Enjoy
 

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Discussion Starter · #59 ·
Hi Eva, Try Abbado with BPO or Nelsons with Boston SO. Of course Karajan's version is still one of the best as well but as a young person you will probably like more recent versions. Enjoy
I actually often prefer recordings from the 60’s. Feel like that was the golden age of conducting. I’m not really fond of Abaddo. I’m looking more towards Walter
 
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