It took me a long time to fall in love with the music of Brahms. Looking back, I really have no clue why this was the case. I have since discovered that his music is absolutely incredible. For beginners to classical music, the difficulty with discovering great composers is always where to start. In this case, I think Brahms Symphony no.1 is an amazing work and therefore a great place to start, that is if you don't already know the music of Brahms. If you do, then at least you can enjoy this great recording.
I really like many version of Brahms Symphony no.1, but one of my favourites, is the excellent recording by the Cleveland Orchestra conducted by George Szell recorded in 1966. The timpani strikes at the opening of the first movement are thrilling heartbeats. I've also always been very partial to the dialogue between the violas and violins which first appears at 5:04'. The outer movements are driven and purposeful. The final climax of the last movement is especially exciting. The 2nd movement is lyrical and warmly expressive. Very impressive playing indeed.