Listening to my recording of Klemperer conducting Brahms #2, recorded in 1958 on EMI, I can't help noticing the brass is virtually inaudible except as a bland, vague loud sound that blends with the drums. You can tell when the brass enter because everything gets louder, but there is no brass timbre--no bite or edge, no distinction between trumpets and trombones, etc.
Meanwhile the oboes are clear as a bell. So are the flutes and clarinets.
The strings are audible but lack some presence.
It makes me think they achieved some form of compression by miking and mixing instrumental sections differently. Close-mike the quiet instruments, use an intermediate distance on the strings, and put a muffler on the brass. The overall dynamic range will be compressed but not by the use of a so-called compressor.
Anyone know if things were deliberately done this way for this reason?