Recomendations of each symphony

By GuMa.

1. I do care for sound quality.

2. I don’t care for tradition for itself (Walter, Horenstein, Barbirolli, Klemperer, Kubelik et al.)

3. I admit that in most cases I like Mahler taken to extremes.

(The order of the listed recordings does matter.)


Symphony #1:

Bernstein, RCO, DG, 1987 — Just perfect. The reference recording for this symphony. No arguments.

Kubelik, BRSO, DG, 1967 — Legendary recording, nice 3rd mvt. Fast and very fluid 4th.

Chailly, RCO, Decca, 1995 — Excellent sound, good version. Though sometimes a bit slow.

(Worth mentioning: Gielen: Gielen’s Mahler is a lot of fun once you know the symphony in question. He always extract new things from the score, but he generally lacks of a great deal of romanticism, imo. The sound of the SWRSO doesn’t help with this either)


Symphony #2:

Bernstein, NYP, DG, 1987 — This one is THE resurrection IMO. Slow, true, but never ever boring. The slowest and at the same time most powerful ending ever recorded. The whole last movement actually is an unforgettable experience.

Rattle, CBSO, EMI, 1986 — Romantic, good sonics and singing. If Rattle has some reputation as a mahlerian is partly because of this recording

Ozawa, SKO, Sony, 2000 — Excellent playing. Superb sound. A bit rushed from time to time. SP in the very ending.

(Yep, there’s NO Klemperer here! Mehta is also pretty good)


Symphony #3:

Salonen, LAP, Sony, 1997 — A safe choice overall. Amazing sound too.

Gielen, SWRSO, Hänssler, 1997 — Very ‘Gielen’: Modern and interventionist. Works great for the 2nd and 3rd mvts, but not so much for the 6th

Bernstein, NYP, DG, 1987 — Another example of Bernstein using broadest tempi and, after 1hour 46 minutes!!, not only you weren’t bored, but you loved it! (The last mvt may be too slow for some ppl, though)


Symphony #4:

Maazel, VPO, Sony, 1983 — Leisured tempi. Fine sound. NOBODY sings the last movement as Kathleen Battle. <- note the period!

Levi, Atlanta SO, Telarc, 1998 — Second to none in sound and playing in all movements, BUT it doesn’t have Kathleen Battle :-((

Rattle, CBSO, EMI, 1997 — Often overlooked. But i think this is the version that best captures the “fairy tale” mood of the symphony. Trully magical.

(Szell and Kletzki are excellent and safe choices too)


Symphony #5:

Chailly, RCO, Decca, 1997 — Flawless, perfect sound. Nothing’s wrong here.

Barshai, Junge Deutsche Philharmonie, Laurel, 1997 — Excellent first two movements & adagietto, slow scherzo & finale (nice ending, though)

Gatti, RPO, Conifer, 1997 — Very intense. Nice Scherzo, good sound too.



Symphony #6:

Tennstedt, LPO, EMI, 1983 — FRIGHTENING! Best outer movements ever IMO, great scherzo too, but not for everybody (Way too intense). Lame andante, though.

Sanderling, Saint Petersburg PO, RS, 1995 — Excellent throughout. If you think Bernstein, Barbirolli or Tennstedt are too much, go for this one.

Barbirolli, New Philharmonia, EMI, 1967 — Slooow and creepy Allegro & Scherzo. Has the best andante. Good sound too. Either Love or hate it.

(The 6th is perhaps the richest of all Mahler symphonies, IMO. And most versions I have show very interesting points. Worth mentioning: Bernstein (DG), Gielen and Szell here too)


Symphony #7:

Abbado, BPO, DG, 2001 — Very good overall. Fast tempi. Spectacular finale. I usually join the crowd who applaud at the ending 🙂

Gielen, SWRSO, Hänssler, 1993 — Somehow, Gielen has always something to say with Mahler’s most modern symphonies.

Tilson Thomas, LSO, RCA, 1997 — Dark sound from the LSO (that’s good!). Very good playing.


Symphony #8:

Another difficult symphony to recommend ONE version.

Chailly, RCO, Decca, 2000 — Nice work with the 1st movement!!. Good playing, singing; and what an ending!!! (Low volume, but great sound)

Solti, CSO, Decca, 1971 — A bit overblown; sometimes rushed and unnatural sounding. BUT a hell of a cast (the best of all) and playing. Insanely powerful, though lacking in grace sometimes. Boys’ chorus aren’t good. (If i had listen this one first — instead of Abbado’s — I’d probably be a die hard fan of it)

Sinopoli, Philharmonia, DG, 1990 — Tiny and artificially enhanced chorus but plenty of nice details in the singing and dynamics. Lovely harps 🙂

Worth mention: Davis (for some nice details with the chorus). Tennstedt is good too.


Symphony #9:

(Even tougher than the 6th or the 8th to recommend just ONE exceptional and 100% satisfying recording)

Abbado, BPO, DG, 1999 — Has the best inner movements of all (bizarreness at it’s best!). Sober external mvts. Not great sound.

Bertini, Cologne RSO, EMI, 1991 — Probably the best overall. Fine sound. But nothing really REALLY special if you consider each movement separately.

Zander, Philharmonia, Telarc, 1996 — Pretty much the same as Bertini: a safe choice overall, but there are better in each movement (Low volume)

You want “the Best” 9th?
Try this:

I: Boulez;

II: Abbado,

III: Abbado again,

IV: Probably Barbirolli.

I once read that the 9th is a “conductor-proof symphony”: Bullsh***!

Worth mentioning: (hmmmz… so many)

Boulez: JUST for the 1st mvt;

Klemperer JUST for the outer mvts.

Barbirolli JUST for the last mvt.

Haitink, and Ozawa are also fine overall.

No Bernstein here, I’m afraid. NAH, neither with the BSO. (Geeky cult-version that’s AWFULLY played and worst sounding).


Symphony #10:

Rattle, BPO, EMI, 1999 (Cooke) — The reference recording for the 10th. The outer movements are exceptional. The inner are just as good as cooke’s version can be.

Litton, Dallas SO, Delos, 2001 (Carpenter) — You can either love or hate Carpenter’s ‘completition’. I think the three inner movements are simply stunning (MUCH more fun here than with 10 cookes). Not the same success with the 1st and specially the last mvt. Superb playing and sound.

Chailly, RSO Berlin, Decca, 1986 (Cooke) — well played, sounds ok, but If you already have Rattle, you are done with the cooke version. (If you have another performing version/completition (Barshai, Mazzetti, Samale-Mazzucca) tell me!


Klemperer, Philharmonia, EMI, 1964-6 — Time to mention the old man in a work that I think really suites him. This is a great DL. Good sound too.

Oue, Minnesota Orchestra, RR, 1999. — Great singing from the soprano AND no shouting at the ending (good point). Exceptional sound.

King, Fischer-Dieskau: — No other “male” dl comes close to this one. Both King and (sp) Fischer-Dieskau are in amazing form.


MAHLERIA (Blastmodium Postmodernemotionalis)

Doctor Inkpot’s General Health Warning


Doctor Inkpot’s Musical Health Series

“We are Hear to Help You”

Based on the research of Dr. William Beh Phd. (FWMU), Phd. (SFA), MA(TFI), BA (FSSO)


1. Inktroduction

Mahleria is one of the most serious health problems facing humanity. At least 10 million of the world’s music audience is known to be infected. Hundreds of thousands more “Closet Mahlerians” are believed to be infected, the rate growing every year.

The disease is mainly confined to the affluent areas of Europe, America and East Asia. The problems are aggravated by inadequate listening diets. The situation has complexified over the years with the increase in resistance to alternative musics used to combat the disease-carrying parasite.

Mahleria is caused mainly by the vector Compact Discs of the genus Blastmodium Postmodernemotionalis. Three species of Blastmodium can produce the disease in its various forms – Blastmodium Egogigantis, Blastmodium Miserablis and Blastmodium Mahleria. B. Egogigantis is the most dangerous: untreated it can lead to Fatal Cerebral Mahleria, in which the victim becomes zombie-like, hanging around concert halls with bagloads of CDs, staring balefully at potential converts and especially conductors deemed to have made mistakes.

Compact Discs are transmitted by the Blastmodium subspecies of the Concertgoer family. For some reason, mainly males carry the parasite. Like all other concertgoers, they breed primarily in concert halls, CD shops and music newsgroups. Sensitivity to pesticides, including high CD prices, is variable.

Parasites in a victim progressively break down other cells responsible for supporting other composers. This induces bouts of CDlust in the infected individual, as well as that feverish look in their eyes. In Cerebral Mahleria, the infected cells obstruct the blood vessels in the brain. This dangerous syptom can only be alleviated by listening to Mahler symphonies, which liberate the blood flow.

Mahleria can sometimes be cured by anti-mahlerial drugs in the form of Baroque music, Haydn’s early symphonies, Sibelius’ inner logic and Bach’s The Art of Fugue. The symptoms, pained descriptions of the composer’s life, extensive vocabularies for the synonyms of misery, and hovering near letter “M” at record stores quickly disappear once the parasite is killed.

In certain regions, however, the parasites have developed resistance to normal anti-Mahlerial drugs. Patients in these areas require treatment with more powerful drugs, such as Madonna, Stevie Wonder and Elvis Presley. Cases of severe disease including cerebral Mahleria require cold turkey treatment with the most hideous drug ever invented by humanity – Richard Clayderman.

The public is advised to be very quick when shopping for CDs in infected areas, especially those of you looking for “Lully” and “Martinu” CDs. If threatened, it may be helpful to whip out a hammer and say in a calm but firm voice: “Don’t come near me or I’ll strike the last hammer blow.”

A detailed knowledge of the ecology of the local vector is essential for controlling the disease. To begin with, it is useful to understand members of the subspecies.

 2. Engendered Species

The average Mahlerian comes in a variety of species, much like any other type of concert-goer. This is a list of the more colourful ones:

 The Know-It-Alls (Resistansis Futilium)

If the mandolin in the fourth movement of the Seventh Symphony misses a note in the sixteenth bar, these people will notice, let you know they noticed and will attempt to disgrace you for not having noticed. Do not engage them in discussion: it’s what they want, they won’t even listen to you and you cannot win. Pretend (or not) you have a stomachache and run. They’ll let you go as soon as their next victim appears.

 The Seen-It-Alls (Prehistoricum Dinosaurus)

These people will try to convince you that you, the unfortunate newbie to Mahler, cannot possibly understand the meaning of real, great Mahlerian performance, since you have never heard a ‘live’ performance of the Eighth, let alone, for example, Barbirolli do the Ninth with the Berlin Philharmonic in 1964. Don’t let them get to you. They will also say the same thing to anyone else, even the conductor, given the opportunity. Unlike the Know-It-Alls, these people are not deliberately trying to be arrogant; they are just mourning their lost years. Smile indulgently and look upon them with as much pity as you can.

The Wannabes (Obscenis Ignoramus)

Conducting one’s speakers in the home can be quite fun, but certain enjoyable things done by oneself in private are best left private. When these people wave their arms around in the concert hall, they are merely exhibiting an ungarnished act of self-aggrandizement and the acme of pretentiousness, since if they were any good they would be already up there on the podium and not seated among the hoi polloi. These people have to be shamed publicly at the intermission. You can, for example, suggest loudly mistakes in their conducting (“…sehr langsam merely means very slow, not dead!”) or even tell them to “go home and practice some more first”.

 The “We Came For Mahler” Crowd (Artus Fartus)

Now, these are the people for whom Mahler is more of a religion than an art form, and would rather sprain a muscle or two than admit otherwise. Any reference to his works as “classical music” will elicit violence, tooth and claw, from them. The good thing is that since these people use their nostrils to look at other people who are beneath conversation, they will not bother you much at the intermission. They can sometimes be identified by the battered, oversized Dover scores they carry under their arms.

 The “Romantics” (Hypochrondus Maximus)

These people should be avoided at all costs, if only because they are chronically always in a romantic depression (also known as “artistic” depression), despite not really having anything to be depressed about. Readily identified by their black Giordano turtlenecks and constant dramatic wiping of their foreheads with the back of their hands, they are well read, consider themselves poets (“yes, quite, but aren’t we all?”) and will readily imagine themselves to be suffering (and sometimes dying) from a fatal heart condition, curiously not unlike the one which killed Mahler.

 The Evangelists (Zealotum Cultus Mahlerea)

These are people for whom Mahler is absolutely a religion: they are convinced that there is only one composer worth listening to and Mahler is his name. They will feel violated if you even attempt to mention another name in their presence, and have collections of every single Mahler, and only Mahler, recording ever released, plus even more bootleg recordings made on Walkmans and exchanged between themselves. Since the invention of DVD, they will only watch Death in Venice in Soundtrack Only mode. Worse, they will not stop trying to convince you that their religion is the right one, the only one, citing examples ranging from how big Mahler gets (“…and you’ll need a cast of over a thousand people !”) to how popular Mahler is. There is also a factory beer ad which will send them into paroxysms of ecstasy, especially the portion when the conductor jumps in the air. To them, if there is a composer who could part the Red C, Mahler is him.

Pretend that you have been won over to their faith and have accepted Mahler as the one and only prophet, then try to escape at the first opportunity.

The F.A.M. Syndrome (Kaplaneria Psychosis)

These people suffer from extreme psychosis, also known as the “Fanatic About Mahler” Syndrome. (Also informally called “Flying Around the Maypole”, “Foaming At the Mouth”, etc.) They will have wet dreams about quitting their jobs, acquiring Mahler’s original manuscripts and taking conducting lessons for a whole year, just for the pleasure of conducting a Mahler symphony with orchestras around the world. The extraordinarily wealthy ones, as in “I have so much money I don’t even know what to do with what’s left with after I’ve finished spending what I want to spend”, have been known to actually make it happen. But such people are, fortunately, very rare indeed.

 The Sing-Alongs (Podex Perfectus)

There is no legal jurisprudence in the world, or at least in those parts of the world with decent symphony orchestras, who would convict you for the culpable homicide of one of these, provided that you have given them at least one warning – a fierce stare is acceptable while the performance is in progress – before killing them. Some places will even give you a public service medal for your contribution to the arts.





This has been another community service from

Doctor Inkpot’s Musical Health Series

“We are Hear to Help You”

 William Beh does not confirm nor deny that he is a closet Mahlerian, and any inferences drawn from this reply are the reader’s own.

Listening Guide (Works by Gustav Mahler)

The recordings listed below were compiled by Lewis Smoley, vice president and author of a two-volume set of critical commentary on all recordings of Mahler’s symphonies, and Ben Pernick, chief commentator on Mahler recordings for Fanfare magazine. Recommended recordings are limited to those currently listed in the Schwann Opus catalogue, with a few exceptions. Listings within each category are in alphabetical order by conductor.


Symphony No. 1:

Bernstein/Royal Concertgebouw (DG 427303-2)

Eschenbach/Houston SO (Koch 3-7405-2H1)

Horenstein/Vienna SO (2-Vox Box CDX 2 5508)

Judd/Florida PO (Collins Quest COL 3005)

Kubelik/Bavarian RSO (DG 449735-2)


Symphony No. 2:

Armstrong, Baker, Bernstein/LSO (DG Video 072200-3)

Valente, Forrester, Kaplan/LSO (2-Conifer Classics 75605-51277-2)

Harper, Baker, Klemperer/Bavarian RSO (EMI 66867 2)

Mathis, Procter, Kubelik/Bavarian RSO (10-DG 429042-2)

Cundari, Forrester, Walter/NYPO (Odyssey YT 30848)


Symphony No. 3:

Ludwig, Bernstein/NYPO (2-DG 427328-2)

Lipton, Bernstein/NYPO (2-Sony Classics SM2K 47576)

Procter, Horenstein/LSO (2-Unicorn-Kanchana UK CD 2006/07)

Schwarz, Sinopoli/Philharmonia Orch. (2-DG 447 051)

Baker, Thomas/LSO (2-Sony M2K 44553)


Symphony No. 4:

Loose, Kletzki/Philharmonia Orch. (Royal Classics ROY 6468)

Battle, Maazel/VPO (CBS/Sony MDK 44908)

Hendricks, Salonen/LAPO (Sony Classical SK 48380)

Raskin, Szell/Cleveland Orch. (Sony Classical SBK 46535)


Symphony No. 5:

Bernstein/VPO (DG 423608-2)

Boulez/VPO (DG 453416-2)

Chailly/Royal Concertgebouw Orch. (London 289458860)

Solti/CSO (London Jubilee 430443)

Tennstedt/LPO (EMI CDC 49888)


Symphony No. 6:

Bernstein/VPO (2-DG 427697-2)

Zander/BPO (2-IMP DMCD 93)


Symphony No. 7:

Bernstein/NYPO (Sony SMK 60564)

Bernstein/NYPO (2-DG 419211-2)

Horenstein/New Philharmonia Orch. (Music & Arts MUA 727)


Symphony No.8:

Soloists, Choruses, Bernstein/VPO (DG Video 072-216-3)

Soloists, Chorus, Olson/MahlerFest (2-MahlerFest MF8-1)

Soloists, Choruses, Solti/CSO (2-London 414493-2)

Soloists, Choruses,Tennstedt/LPO (2-EMI Classics CDCB 47625)


Das Lied von der Erde:

King, Fischer-Dieskau, Bernstein/VPO (London 417783)

Hodgson, Mitchinson, Horenstein/BBC Northern (Music & Arts MUA 728)

Ludwig, Wunderlich, Klemperer/Philharmonia Orch. (EMI Classics CDC 47231)

Ferrier, Patzak, Walter/NYPO (London 414194-2)

Miller, Haefliger, Walter/CSO (CBS MK 42034)


Symphony No. 9:

Bernstein/Royal Concertgebouw (2-DG 419208-2)

Bernstein/BPO (2-DG 435378-2)

Karajan/BPO (2-DG 439024-2)

Lopez-Cobos/Cincinnati SO (2-Telarc CD 80426)

Walter/VPO (1938) (EMI Classics CDH 63029)

Walter/CSO (2-CBS M2K 42033)


Symphony No. 10 (Cooke version):

Chailly/Berlin RSO (2-London 421 182-2)

Ormandy/Philadelphia Orch. (CBS MPK 45882)

Sanderling/Berlin Symphony (Ars Vivendi 2100225)



Ferrier, Walter/VPO (EMI Classics CDH 61003)

Baker, Barbirolli/Halle Orch. (EMI Classics CDC 47793) (EMI Classics CDZB 62707)

Fischer-Dieskau, Böhm/BPO (DG 415 191-2)


Das klagende Lied:

Lear, Söderström, Hoffman, Burrows, Haefliger, Nienstedt, Boulez/LSO & Chorus (Sony Classical SK 45841)

Shaguch, DeYoung, Moser, Leiferkus, Thomas/SFSO & Chorus (RCA 09026-68599-2)


Des Knaben Wunderhorn:

Ludwig, Berry, Bernstein (CBS MK 42202)

Forrester, Rehfuss, Prohaska/Vienna Festival (Vanguard Classics OVC 4045)

Schwarzkopf, Fischer-Dieskau, Szell/LSO (EMI Classics CDC 47277)


Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen:

Baker, Barbirolli/Halle Orch. (EMI Classics CDC 47793) (EMI Classics CDZB 62707)

Fischer-Dieskau, Böhm/BPO (DG 415 191-2)

Von Stade, Davis/LPO (Sony Classical SBK 46535)



Baker, Barbirolli/Halle Orch. (EMI Classics CDC 47793) (EMI Classics CDZB 62707)

Ferrier, Walter/VPO (London 448150-2)

Hampson, Rieger (piano) (EMI Classics CDC 56443)