Consumer Reports

Looking out for your wallet, once again, so you don’t have to …

You may have seen [this handsome box set of the Mahler symphonies]( on Amazon. Think long and hard about it, Mahlerians: Ozawa is underrated in this music and the sound of the Boston Symphony playing Mahler alone makes it worth repeated listening. But don’t be daunted by the price, the same set is already available for less than half the Amazon price at [](

(If you do shop at Amazon, remember to use the links you find here on this blog. You help support this site by tossing a tiny amount of the purchase price into my pocket, rather than Jeff Bezos’, at no extra cost to you.)

Also coming out and absolutely essential is the final recording made by Claudio Abbado, leading the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in Bruckner’s Symphony No. 9. Live in concert, this is one of those rare and extraordinary documents of an event. It’s not just that this is arguably the finest recording of this music, but that the combination of tension, expression, the incredibly focussed playing and the live audience makes this an experience that goes far beyond just listening to music. One of the great things you will have in your culture collection.


Consumer Reports

Looking out for your dollars, so you don’t have to …

Must Haves and New Releases


* DG is releasing a new Claudio Abbado Mahler cycle. This one collects his live recordings with the Berlin Philharmonic and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, and completely supersedes his previous cycle in terms of music making and recording quality. Everything is strong, and Symphonies 1, 3, 5 and 9 are among the finest on record. You can pre-order through Amazon or, for half the price, the Presto Classical site. You’ll also get is sooner through Presto, though once the domestic release date nears, the Amazon price is likely to drop below $50.

* Not available in the US domestic market, there’s another great DG box coming out, 23 CDs of recordings from the great conductor Rafael Kubelik. This one collects the complete symphonies of Mahler, Beethoven, Dvorak, and Schumann. These are fine recordings and this box is a great value.

* Beethoven Symphonies 1 – 9, George Szell conducting the Cleveland Orchestra. The best first choice for a Beethoven set, and arguably the finest cycle ever recorded, this has gone in and out of print for the last thirty years, but is available again for less than $20. If you don’t have this, order it today.

Dream Mahler

There’s never enough Mahler, or, when you may think there’s enough, there’s something more about Mahler that you hadn’t imagined . . .

Deutsche Grammaphon has already released their fine Complete Mahler Edition, and now they are preparing, with some help, an additional Mahler Sympony box-set for November release. They call this one “The People’s Edition” because they are eliciting public opinion on the contents, so weigh in with your own Dream Mahler. I’m looking forward to what comes out of this process, which is something new in classical music marketing.

An added benefit is that DG/Decca/Phillips are bringing out of print titles from the back catalogue into circulation, at least temporarily. This is big news, because there are some great recordings in the vaults; the Mengleberg Fourth Symphony, the weirdly good Scherchen Seventh, a Václav Neumann Fifth and what looks to be an intriguing set from Christoph von Dohnányi and the Cleveland Orchestra. The site also allows you to stream the audio from these recordings while you’re making your own list.

Go vote, Mahler and the world need you! The cycle shaping up so far is decent but unsurprising, and unfortunately has the lifeless Abbado and Berlin Philharmonic Mahler Third, when there are many better ones to choose from.