“Abbado’s approach to Brahms is generally direct, but his control of rhythm and phrase makes the performance instantly compelling” – The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs
Superbly crafted and convincingly modern, though imbued with an expressivity most modern composers would have abjured, the Fourth and Fifth symphonies of English composer Richard Arnell arguably deserve to be heard as often as the symphonies of his contemporaries Alwyn and Arnold. In this superlative coupling of his Fourth Symphony from 1948 and his Fifth Symphony from 1957, Arnell emerges as a cogent composer ……..James Leonard @ AllMusic
Fans of Leonard Bernstein will not want to miss the chance to snap up this limited edition 60-CD set, Bernstein Symphony Edition. With a list price of just over two dollars per disc, it's a bargain not to be missed. What's most impressive about these recordings of well over 100 symphonies made between 1953 and 1976, almost all of which feature the New York Philharmonic, is the scope and depth of Bernstein's repertoire. The complete symphonic works of many of the great symphonists are here, including Beethoven, Schumann …
…got this for the Brahms, which is at best a thoroughly decent performance, nothing more - but the highlight is the excellent Beethoven. The ratings reflect the dichotomy of the two performances and their sonics, an average of 4 for sound seems fair - but the Beethoven warrants a 5 for performance.
Admirers of Karajan will probably own most or all of these symphony cycles from what was probably the pinnacle of the conductor's prolific career. However, if you are unfamiliar with Karajan's work, or well enough acquainted with it to desire further exploration, then this amazingly inexpensive anthology can be enthusiastically recommended. I purchased all of these sets when they came out in DG's previous mid-priced "Karajan Symphony Edition," and I can testify to their consistently oustanding quality, both as performances and as interpretations. As recordings, however, it must be admitted that the sound is of variable quality; sometimes admirably vivid and well balanced, but frequently tending toward harshness, even garishness–particularly in those which come from the early digital era (cf. Bruckner's symphonies 1-3). Too bad Universal didn't see fit to give this magnificent legacy a sonic facelift. Still, the performances are sufficiently worthy of your attention to warrant purchase regardless of these sonic limitations.