In my experience, only Toscanini led the Brahms First with more tension and drive, but the closest approximation is this classic Szell performance, which has been widely admired for over four decades. There has been a budget issue since 1991, in indifferent sound. As of August, 2006, there's this new DSD version in Sony's best remastering technique. Szell's conducting, as always, is disciplined and devoid of rubato or sentimental softness. The secret when the reins are held this tight is to propel the music forward as if in one breath, never letting the stainless steel thread snap.
It's an unconventional way to approach Brahms but a bracing one. Fortunately, Szell doesn't lapse into rigid time-beating: this reading is alive inside, full of dramatic events in every movement. The Cleveland Orch. plays with great power and transparency, and the refurbished sonics are twice as good as they ever were on Epic lPs when this recording first appeared. Of a piece is Szell's highly controlled reading of the Haydn Vairations. Curiously, in both this version and the new reissue, Sony has tacked on five Hungarian Dances by Ormandy, which don't sound like they even come from the same planet as Szell's Brahms but make nice listening.
P.S. 2013 - A commenter on another review points out that Szell made an earlier stereo recording of the Brahms First in 1957, which can be found at amazon, with a blue-and-gray cover, as Vol. 3 of he George Szell Edition. I've also reviewed an excellent live reading under Szell at the Lucerne Festival, released by ICA.