This is a reissue of Mahler performances delivered in Cologne in 1992 and 1993, and Thomas Quasthoff, just on the verge of international fame, was in phenomenal voice. The upper extension of his beautiful, expressive bass-baritone is thrilling, in perfect control. Artistically, he only grew stronger, as evidenced by his searing reading of 'Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen' under Boulez (DG), but this earlier interpretation comes close, and there's no comparison so far as vocalism is concerned. The WDR orchestra plays well under the rather prosaic leadership of the late Gary Bertini (a native Russian who emigrated to Palestine as a child in the 1930s)– both are good enough, and the recorded sound is excellent. In all, this is a shattering reading by Quasthoff that should be heard by every lover of Mahler.
With his symphonies the Danish composer Rued Langgaard offered 16 vastly different versions of what a symphony can be. His captivating, complex genius made room for all conceivable idioms and a wealth of styles ranging from the grandiosely Late Romantic to the purest Absurdism. This box is the first collected recording of Langgaard's 16 symphonies based on the critical edition of the scores; recordings which demonstrate, with spectacular sound quality, Langgaards masterly grasp of the orchestra and his ecstatic view of art: "Mr. Dausgaard's keen advocacy elicits polished, persuasive accounts that live up to Langgaard's motto: 'Long Live Beauty'", wrote The New York Times.
Beethoven reputedly wasn't Beecham's favorite composer, but you wouldn't know it from this performance; it's exceedingly well conceived, highly energetic, and has that unique Beecham sparkle to it. The fillers also are delightful. All recorded in Ascona, Switzerland in 1957.