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Brahms: 4 Symphonies Box set


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Audio CD, Box set, January 15, 1991
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 15, 1991)
  • Original Release Date: 1991
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Polygram Classics
  • ASIN: B000001GAV
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #499,481 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Symphony no.1 in c, op.68: 1. Un poco sostenuto-Allegro
2. Symphony no.1 in c, op.68: 2. Andante sostenuto
3. Symphony no.1 in c, op.68: 3. Un poco Allegretto e grazioso
4. Symphony no.1 in c, op.68: 4. Adagio-Piu Andante-Allegro non troppo, ma con brio
5. Tragic Overture, op.81: Allegro non troppo-Molto piu moderato-Tempo primo-un poco...
Disc: 2
1. Symphony no.2 in D, op.73: 1. allegro non troppo
2. Symphony no.2 in D, op.73: 2. Adagio non troppo-L'istesso tempo, ma grazioso
3. Symphony no.2 in D, op.73: 3. Allegretto grazioso (Quasi Andantino)-Presto ma non...
4. Symphony no.2 in D, op.73: 4. Allegro con spirito
5. Symphony no.3 in F, op.90: 1. Allegro con brio
6. Symphony no.3 in F, op.90: 2. Andante
See all 8 tracks on this disc
Disc: 3
1. Symphony no.4 in e, op.98: 1. Allegro non troppo
2. Symphony no.4 in e, op.98: 2. Andante moderato
3. Symphony no.4 in e, op.98: 3. Allegro giocoso-Poco meno presto-Tempo I
4. Symphony no.4 in e, op.98: 4. Allegro energico e passionato-Piu Allegro
5. Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn, op.56a: Chorale St. Antoni: Andante
6. Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn, op.56a: Variation I: Poco piu animato
See all 14 tracks on this disc

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

These last versions of the Brahms symphonies (Herbert von Karajan did three cycles for DG alone) are probably the best of the lot. Karajan's Brahms was never that persuasive, largely because his smoothly blended sonority made the orchestration sound even murkier and thicker than it already was, with nary a woodwind line in sight. These performances, though, are a bit less "compacted" in sonority, and a bit leaner in the strings, which is all to the good. They also sound better--clearer and less manipulated in perspective. If you like Karajan generally, this is the Brahms cycle to get, even if the earlier ones are available for less money. --David Hurwitz

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Arsov on January 30, 2015
The symphonies of Johannes Brahms form a curious quartet. The First may not be "Beethoven's Tenth", as Hans von Bülow dubbed it, but it's a journey of epic proportions all the same. The Second may have been Brahms' most inspired symphony, but I have always found it the least memorable. The Third, by turns wistful and grand, may be the most unjustly underrated symphonic work by a major composer in the standard repertoire. The Fourth is a perfect masterpiece. For once, Johannes let his hair down and surpassed himself.

Karajan conducted the symphonies for more than 50 years, from the 1930s to 1988, though by no means equally often. The First was his greatest favourite (143 performances), followed closely by the Second (134 performances). The Third and the Fourth managed only 50 and 61 performances, respectively. He recorded them as a set on three occasions, always with the Berlin Philharmonic for DG, in 1963-64, in 1977-78, and in 1987-88. The difference in the sound is considerable, and though Karajan was genetically incapable of playing Brahms badly, at least one set fails to reach the greatest artistic heights.

The 60s set is splendid. Unlike Karajan's first take of Beethoven's symphonies, which is overrated for historical reasons, this one really is one of the Brahmsian summits of his recorded legacy. The sound is sumptuous and spacious, remarkable for its age and little dated by modern standards; occasionally there is a slight shrillness in the strings and the brass, but nothing to make fuss about. Add to this the compelling musicianship, as exciting as a live concert or even a dress rehearsal, and you have a no-brainer. Essential set for Karajan and Brahms aficionados alike. The First is the superstar. It may be the finest Karajan ever did.
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18 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 12, 1999
Once again, David Hurwitz (the Amazon reviewer) seems to have missed the mark: this is definitely not Karajan's best Brahms cycle. His best version of the first symphony is in the DG "Originals" series, coupled with Schumann's first symphony (both of which Mr. Hurwitz hates!). These recordings are very harsh on the ear--perhaps if they are digitally remastered, the performances will shine through more convincingly. But these digital recordings, as they are right now, are like a kick in the teeth! I'm a big fan of Karajan, so that's a major disappointment, particularly since the overtures are included in this set. Karajan was very involved in the technical aspects of his recordings, so I'm surprised at the poor quality. It goes to show that digital is not always the best. For instance, there is a crackling noise at the very opening of the first symphony. The loud parts are very murky, and the winds, although they can be heard, do not blend well with the strings. For the best digital versions, I would turn to Claudio Abbado, with the same orchestra. Daniel Barenboim's recordings with the Chicago Symphony are also pretty good. Or you can buy the works separately: Karajan (1964) #1, Solti #2, Abbado #3, and Barenboim #4.
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