The Brahms D minor Concerto is a difficult work to pull off successfully: the piano part is ungrateful, and often drowned out by an overorchestrated accompaniment. Also, many pianists--most notably Glenn Gould--tend to drag the tempos beyond all reason. Rubinstein, who was ten years old when Brahms died, would never have considered such a nonsensical approach. The Concerto was written early in Brahms career, and was the work of a passionate young man. In essence, Brahms without the beard.
This is the first stereo recording, taped in 1954, to be made of this Concerto. (The stereo version, however, was not released until 1977). It says something for the original producer, RCA's legendary Jack Pfeiffer, that with SACD remastering the sound holds up very well. The performance is excellent also, with superb accompaniment from Reiner, the very antithesis of the dragged out, boring approach that has recently tested concert audiences' endurance. Although over a half century old, this is still one of the very few "essential" recordings for any Brahms collection, along with the Fleischer/Szell and Serkin/Szell performances.
It would have been nice if RCA included some of the solo Brahms pieces Rubinstein recorded in 1959 (they were also part of the Living Stereo series), as this disc is not well filled. But for those who prefer quality over quantity, this disc is a must.