Following their successful cycle of the ten symphonies of Gustav Mahler on RCA, David Zinman and the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich offer a live set of the four symphonies of Johannes Brahms that is sure to garner critical praise. There's scarcely a misstep in these engaged performances, and Zinman and the orchestra fully grasp both the sound and style of Brahms' symphonic writing, so listeners can be sure this is an exceptional presentation in every aspect of interpretation and performance. However, audiophiles will be disappointed to learn that this set consists of three conventional CDs, and unlike the Mahler symphonies, which were presented with direct stream digital sound on hybrid SACDs, the sound here is merely stereo and rather flat at that. The acoustics of the Tonhalle are fairly spacious and resonant, and the music doesn't feel dry or muffled, though there is a haziness or lack of focus that would have been eliminated in state-of-the-art recording. As it is, the instruments blend homogeneously and have soft edges, and only the prominent or solo parts have clear definition. With much competition coming from other Brahms sets on the market, including some excellent SACDs, Zinman's package depends largely on his reputation for excellence to get the attention it deserves.