This is the budget re-release of the greatest set of the complete Bruckner symphonies ever recorded. I paid more than twice this amount when I purchased the set back in the early 1990s, but even at that it has been worth every penny. If you are interested in a complete Bruckner set, do yourself a favor and without hesitation throw this into your shopping cart ASAP.
I have posted an earlier review of the original set, but to summarize, Karajan is the greatest Bruckner conductor of all time, to my ears. I am in total awe of what Karajan achieved with this set, and I can't think of any other recorded legacy that is more important. Every single symphony except for #1 receives a compelling performance, and symphonies 2,4,5,6,7,8, and 9 receive *exceptional* performances (#3 is a fine enough performance, but Karajan uses the highly edited 3rd version, and I prefer the unedited first version in Tintner's exceptional recording). Karajan's interpretations are magnificent and go right to the soul of this deeply moving music (and without disruptive eccentricities). And the playing of the Berlin Philharmonic has to be heard to be believed--the balance, the tone, the beautiful sonorities--it's hard to not think that this represents their finest hour(s), so to speak. The Berlin Philharmonic's playing in this set is the greatest orchestral playing I have ever heard--in any works. What an achievement for Karajan and the orchestra, and what a great gift to all of us, to have this amazing set that goes right to the soul of this deeply moving music.
There are some criticisms of the sound, mostly justified (except for #5 and #9, whose sound I would not touch). The good news is that because the performances are so compelling and the orchestral playing so stunning, not only does your ear quickly adjust, but before long you are never even questioning that the sound is an issue. Would this set have benefited from a remastering? Without doubt. Will the sound as it is prevent you from treasuring these recordings? Absolutely not.
In the end, the final bow must go to the master, Anton Bruckner. It is almost inconceivable to me that any human being could have conceived of, let alone successfully executed, the creative ideas that Bruckner puts forward and then successfully resolves in his symphonies (particularly #2,4,5,7, and 9). Hans-Hubert Schonzeler said it better than anyone ever will: "Bruckner's symphonies are in reality one gigantic arch which starts on Earth amidst suffering humanity, travel up to the Heavens to the very throne of grace, and return with a message of peace."
I hope this music provides you comfort, wisdom, beauty, and joy, as it has me.