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Yes I saw you were listening to Sinopoli in the Current Listening thread and agreed that Mahler was a strength of his. Abbado has a fairly good cycle on Deutsche Grammophon (not a true cycle; the Second was done with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra) and the live recordings have minimal audience noise and are engineered very well. Solti had some strong recordings in his cycle, especially the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh. Boulez is one of my favorites; clear textures, precise rhythms, and never overly sentimental; plus recorded in good sound. Again not a true cycle; it's spread across the Vienna Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Staatskapelle Berlin, but all for Deutsche Grammophon. There are the two Leonard Bernstein cycles ('60s on Sony, and '80s on Deutsche Grammophon). Chailly's cycle was pretty strong if I remember correctly. Kubelík made a cycle for Deutsche Grammophon in the '60s with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra which tends to on the light/fleet end of the spectrum, and can sometimes be a bit harsh sonically, but which I still recommend. Oh and Haitink on Philips is a solid set.

But Mahler is hard to get consistently right, and many of these cycles have a blind spot somewhere in there. I certainly have my own blind spots also...
 

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Mahlerian used to be a very knowledgeable commenter (moderator at one point) on this forum and he despised Karajan's recording of Mahler's Sixth. Accused Karajan of altering balances, tempi and phrasing, distorting it away from Mahler's directions. I don't have such an encyclopedic knowledge of Mahler's Sixth; Karajan definitely sounds different in places, such as the end of the first movement, from what I recall, but I certainly didn't have a visceral reaction to it. It's a recording I'm glad to have but would never recommend as a first choice. At the very least Karajan's Mahler is controversial. See the comment chain here (there's actually a half-decent debate here): Karajan's Mahler 6
 
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