Wednesday 28 December 2011

At the End of (another) Mahler Year...

... I find myself on a reasonably lengthy railway journey. Having foolishly packed books and my iPod in an inaccesible suitcase, more or less the only amusement - relatively speaking - available is my laptop. Or, of course, whatever I still can muster in my head. Any regular readers may recall a distinct lack of enthusiasm for this year's - and last year's - Mahler anniversaries. I shall not rehearse the arguments now, other than to say that a greater tribute would have been a period of silence; Mahler is a composer I love dearly, perhaps too dearly, but the last thing he needed was a further run of unnecessary performances. (Lorin Maazel... No, I shall stop myself there.) I decided a little earlier en route to set myself a logical puzzle. Not to recommend a favourite recorded version of each symphony, but something a little different: to select a favoured set, with no more than one performance per conductor. Trying to do the same with respect to orchestras proved too much. Doubtless I should change my mind tomorrow, but here are the results, with Amazon links for any who might be interested.

1: Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Rafael Kubelík

2: Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Otto Klemperer

3: London Symphony Orchestra/Jascha Horenstein

4: London Philharmonic Orchestra/Klaus Tennstedt

5: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Leonard Bernstein

6: WDR Symphony Orchestra, Cologne/Dmitri Mitropoulos

7: Staatskapelle Berlin/Daniel Barenboim

8: Staatskapelle Berlin/Pierre Boulez

Das Lied von der Erde: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Bruno Walter

9: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir John Barbirolli

10: Berlin Symphony Orchestra/Kurt Sanderling

Please feel free to comment/to tear apart, and/or to suggest alternative lists.

May next year bring fewer and superior Mahler performances...