I don't know how this superb CD missed out being featured in various reissues of Reiner's catalog, almost the whole of which now appears in RCA's Living Stereo series. The simple division between the Toscanini and Furtwangler style of conducting doesn't apply to Reine. when the lead reviewer says that this Brahms Third is "tough, tight, and propulsive" in the outer movements, he must be having Toscanini deja vu. In reality Reiner is rather relaxed, but that's just the beginning. He was an objective, even impersonal conductor, but one who almost never sounds efficient the way Szell often does.
Here the texture of Brahms's orchestration isn't employed for grandeur, in the style of Karajan and Rattle. Instead, there's a kind of clarity and directness that I find "American." Szell achieved the same sound, generally speaking, in his Brahms, and I had forgotten how impressively both conductors (who were Hungarian and Jewish, like Solti - what an amazing crop of great conductors one small country produced!) shaped the virtuosity of their orchestras. As an interpretation, Reiner's Brahms Third is deceptively plain, but that's also true of his great Tchaikovsky "Pathetique." He could make the most romantic score "speak" without indulging in off-the-shelf Romantic gestures.
In most Brahms Thirds, the outer movements are the main attraction, thanks to the gentle sameness of the two inner movements and their bittersweet mood. Here they are the highlight of the performance, moving forward at a natural pace and yet feeling so poignant without underlining the mood. Reiner understates the outer movements, which move quickly and deftly. This restraint may put off some listeners - it's most evident in the finale - but as an offsetting grace there is the quiet virtuosity and eprfect balance of the CSO's playing.
Reiner's Schubert fifth also falls into the objective class, but the pacing and playing are so sparkling that one is reminded of his Rossini overtures CD, a classic recording even though it substitutes virtuosity for wit. In his way Reiner was capable of giving us high spirits. This dashing reading isn't driven or tense, so it's not Toscanini redux. For a warmer, more genial Schubert Fifth, I'd pick Bruno Walter on Sony, without accusing Reiner of being cold. The only disappointment on the program (essentially a complete old-fashioned concert) is probably the Mendelssohn "Hebrides" Overture, which sounds a bit clinical once you've heard Furtwangler.
As for the sonics, the Brahms (1957) and Schubert (1960) are natural and detailed, but not in the demonstration-quality mode (who says "You have to come hear this killer Schubert fifth on my system" anyway?), while the Mendelssohn (1956) is a bit coarse.