Five essential works by Mahler
We name the very best pieces of music written by the symphony's great synthesist Mahler
Symphony No. 2, ‘Resurrection’
One of the most dramatic openings of any symphony – baleful scurryings from cellos and basses launching a work of extraordinary contrasts.
Bamberg Chorus & Symphony Orchestra/Jonathan Nott
Tudor 7158 (2 discs)
Symphony No. 6, ‘Tragic’
Lean and purposeful, ‘Tragic’ launches with an implacable march and ends with a finale punctuated with three hammer blows of ‘fate’.
San Francisco Symphony/Michael Tilson Thomas
San Francisco Symphony 821936-0001-2
Some of Mahler’s most sublime songs are included here, most particularly the twilight atmosphere of ‘Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen’.
Janet Baker; New Philharmonia Orchestra/Sir John Barbirolli
EMI 566 9812
Symphony No. 9
Mahler’s last completed symphony seems to express the complex feelings of someone facing the end of their life, shot through with fear.
Signum SGCD 188
Das Lied von der Erde
A despairing yet blissful hymn to earthly life, these settings of ancient Chinese poems is one of Mahler’s most powerful song cycles for solo voices and orchestra.
Kathleen Ferrier, Julius Patzak; Vienna PO/Bruno Walter
Alto ALC 1120
Freya Parr is BBC Music Magazine's Digital Editor and Staff Writer. She has also written for titles including the Guardian, Circus Journal, Frankie and Suitcase Magazine, and runs The Noiseletter, a fortnightly arts and culture publication. Freya's main areas of interest and research lie in 20th-century and contemporary music.