Kleiber brings the same insights of his classic recording of Beethoven's 5th to bear on Brahms's 4th symphony. This is an all-time great recording, probably the most furious and passionate performance since Furtwangler's transcendental account during World War II.
The entire first movement is played wonderfully and the coda is astonishing in it's drama. In the second movement Kleiber is perhaps not as warm as other conductors but overall he's a success. The glitter and gold of the scherzo is brought out in full and the finale, the passacaglia is truly masterful, rising to a magnificent close. Kleiber surpasses all of Karajan's performances here as well as any other competitor except the great Furtwangler.
The Schubert 8th is a very dignified and strikingly dramatic traversal of this perennial favorite. Some people won't take to the forceful accents but it's great to hear Schubert played this way from time to time. The excerpts from Kleiber's recording of Wagner's Tristan and Isolde are a nice compliment to Brahms and Schubert. Kleiber's soprano in the Liebestod is the fresh voiced Margaret Price and she sounds great but hardly approaches the depth and power of Birgit Nilsson or Jessye Norman in this spectacular end to Tristan and Isolde.
Not everything is perfect, the sound on this CD is still somewhat edgy in climaxes, lacking lushness and warmth as to be expected in the early digital recording of the Brahms symphony and the Wagner excerpts. These date from 1980 or thereabouts. The analogue Schubert is also similiar sound wise, typical Deutsche Grammophon stuff from the 1970s. All of these performances were previously part of several CDs in the DG Originals series and they are all remastered using Original-Image Bit-Processing, DG's signature remastering technique. This CD is a great purchase even though the sound is not the greatest by modern day standards, the performances are exceptional and must be a part of any serious collection.