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I was, and actually still am, impressed that major artists like the Berlin Philharmonic and Simon Rattle would do a set of the Brahms symphonies on direct to disc. Would love to hear them, but not being an admirer, in general, of Rattle's conducting ( or maybe I should just say I don't have many of his recordings, which might say something), I don't think this is a good use of my funds. In fact, I just sprung for the stereo van Beinum recording of Brahms 1st, which I believe is an extremely vital recording, and the sets of Brahms I have already seem to do the trick - Walter and Abbado, foremost. I also own Karajan, Klemperer, Sanderling, Kertesz, and probably a bunch others. But again, I would love to hear there.
Quick update to this somewhat old thread...
I bought this boxed set the day they announced it. Because I'm a subscriber to their digital streaming video service (my Oppo player cam with 10 free days, I fell in love with the service, so then I bought their 1-year package) I received the email announcing the vinyl set the moment they announced it. Figured it would sell out fairly quickly so I didnt want to think on the very expensive price too long
The price was steep, but my deliberation was quick. Here was my rationalization to pay such a steep price:
1. Direct to disc in 2017? Wow. Ok. You have my interest
2. The Berliner Philharmoniker? Cool. I've been getting to know them via the streaming service for the last few months. I like what I hear out of this group
3. All analog signal path as well as just two microphones used to do the recording? So simple that it will be a great to demo on various systems in the years to come, even if the performance is so-so
4. Brahms? Yes. I enjoy him
5. A nice book, certificate, photos, and fabric box? Ok. That all sounds pretty good
6. If push comes to shove, I could probably recoup my losses. There are bound to be a few audiophiles out there that did not get a chance to snap up the set so I can probably resell it if need be
It helps that, financially-speaking, I'm also doing well these days. So my main concern was whether the pressings would be flat and quiet and if they would arrive undamaged. Yes, the set is expensive but I was not fixated on whether I could afford the set or not. Fortunately, everything fell into place...although I did not have an opportunity until only recently to open the package and listen to the set.
Because I tend to run a fairly dangerous mega-minimalist 'purist' systems (no pre-amp at all, no traditional volume control(s), no source selection, no mute switch, no crossover in my speakers, etc), I consider my current system to be a pretty good 'purist' match for the recording technique / style.
The midrange is ALL there. Spectacular. However, the frequency extremes are not really covered in my current setup, so I cant comment on those particular traits. All the low-level information is intact beautifully though. Soundstage and hall ambiance is very clear too.
My current system is not updated on my Asylum page so I'll put it here:
Lyra Helikon SL (low output version)
Well Tempered Amadeus tonearm and turntable
EAR 834p Phono preamp (using the MM setting)
McIntosh MC-225 (not sure of the exact vintage but I'm pretty sure early 60s)
All cabling is BEL (Brown Engineering Lab) 'The Wire' (RCA connections on the interconnects and bare wire on the speaker cables)
Personally, I hope they do more of these types of sets. Shoot, I'd set aside budget every year for each one they release. I did not find the sound to be flat at all. Unprocessed, yes. The detail is all there. Think of those Water Lily Acoustics types of recordings by Kavi, and you get close to the sound quality of these records.
I bought the Rattle D2D Brahms Cycle back in November just after I received their promotion email.
I got the Pressing No 100.
I must say that the sound sound stage is massive and bigger than my SXL Kubelik & Kertez and of course DG. I recently bought the live set with Jurowski/LPO and it is mostly musically unsatisfying. LPO is great though and the engineering ok but no where as good as the Rattle/BPO.
In the Ratlle/BPO there are a couple of places were you hear the audience - a few coughs. Its transparent and can hear many more musical/instrumental threads than the SXL's. It certainly sounds live and you can hear/feel the presence.
I was a little hesitant as I have a few reservations about Rattle - but in the end I'm glad that I'm the owner of this set that gives me great joy and satisfaction.
"You have to leave something to your imagination"
Just to watch everyone scream.
"Decaf is for cowards."
...wait until it sells out. Then put your second copy on eBay for $1200.
Bohm/VPO on DG. The 1st is especially good. Fancy booklet, too. And I also have to agree with the fine choices mentioned by the other posters in this thread.
I'm a Simon Rattle fan, unlike many here, but $600 is laughable, imho.
I'm with you.
When I have heard Berliner is doing this direct-to-disc vinyl, the first thought popped in my mind was 'what a waste of records!'.
I've heard a bit of promo video and for me, it's DOA from the first few bars already.
There are far better readings including a few you've already mentioned.(Love Klemperer's No.1! )
I'd add Kubelik/CSO and Kempe/Berliner's 1st to the list. I even love Toscanini & Bohm's 4th and Giulini also recorded beautiful but poignant No.4 with CSO. ( Carson Taylor engineered @ Medinah Temple )
And here's one more. I picked up a 1958 Audio Fidelity stereo recording with Wallenstein of the Brahms 4th for $.99 at a thrift store. It may be the best sounding record in my entire collection, and a wonderful interpretation (of the 6 versions I own).
With so many great Brahms recordings with great sound, unless you're a Rattle fan, it seems like a lot to spend. For $20 or less you can buy the full set of his symphonies on eBay with better sound (at least according to many reviews). It was a nice idea but the price here is a bit crazy for four symphonies and a book. Much better ways to spend $600, in my opinion. Fremer's review below.
Where did that hour go? I started (6:30 AM) with the OP's question about the $600 set of Brahms' symphonies. That led me to Michael Fremer's review of the same. But in Fremer's review, there was a link to Leonard Bernstein's absolutely brilliant You-Tube bar-by-bar discussion of the first movement of Brahms' 4th Symphony. That segued immediately into Bernstein's impromptu discussion of Mahler's Das Lied Von Der Erde. I could have kept this up all day. The music and the discussion have given me an incredible emotional lift that will carry me through the rest of the day.
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