Levine/CSO: Brahms Symphony No. 2 - German RCA RL 12864, as new
Jacket NM / LP / NM / German pressing
This outstanding LP, a like-new collector's copy, from RCA (RL 12864, German pressing, Red Seal label, stereo) features James Levine and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's resplendent performance of Brahms's Symphony No. 2 in D Major Op. 73, recorded in the spacious acoustics of Medinah Temple, Chicago on 12 July 1976 (producer: Thomas Z. Shepard / assistant: Jay David Saks). Levine’s is a beautifully burnished and majestic reading, just stunning.
Wrote the American Record Guide in its review of RCA Japan's CD release of the entire Levine/CSO Brahms cycle:
"James Levine is unquestionably a great Brahms conductor. His RCA complete symphony cycle with the Chicago Symphony is one of the best ever recorded, but long out of print and unfortunately is only available at present in Japan. The performances are stunning, taut, rhythmically sharp, and exciting. Indeed, this is unquestionably the finest complete Brahms with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at its pinnacle!
"There are no disappointments anywhere in this set, and there are countless outstanding moments. The very opening of the First Symphony sets the tone: powerful, like Klemperer, but also propulsive. The finale of the Second Symphony shows exactly how to increase excitement toward the end without wild extremes of tempo (not that this can't be fun now and then). The Third and Fourth Symphonies are superb interpretations, particularly the Third, a work that Levine always did particularly well. The opening is wonderfully passionate, the renown Chicago Symphony wind section playing in the slow movement is gorgeous and magnificent in the finale epic. This last quality also pervades the Fourth's concluding passacaglia, but never at the expense of necessary forward momentum. The recorded sonics are big, rich and very flattering to the orchestra with plenty of transparency and textural directness.”
The gradations of condition I use are as follows: MINT, Near-Mint, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor.
The condition of the jacket is near-MINT. Really, the flaws are quite minor – some very slight bumping/wear at corners, a bit of creasing, and that is all. There are no seamsplits, bends, owners’ markings or other defects, and the album remains perfectly solid, bright, glossy, and extremely attractive in apperanace – overall, a lovely collector's copy.
The condition of the LP is near-MINT and the playback is superb. I will not say the surfaces are absolutely flawless or CD silent, but really this is close to MINT. If you must have a 100% flawless, then please do not buy this LP. Overall, this is a truly fine collector's copy.