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It looks like the last top 10 symphonies thread petered out last year, but I have the urge to share a list of my own and see yours. I will encourage everyone to provide a brief justification of each piece and their favorite recording.

10. Haydn 93
Szell/Cleveland
Hilarity, hijinks, tuneful fodder for whistling

9. Mozart 35
Bohm/BPO
Unrestrained exuberance

8. Mahler 7
Abbado/Lucerne Festival (concert)
Nirvana, hallucination

7. Elgar 2
Davis/BRSO (concert)
Striving, yearning, wistfulness

6. Bruckner 6
Jochum/BRSO (1967)
Solving a difficult enigma

5. Tchaikovsky 6
Jansons/Oslo
Turbulence, bipolarity

4. Brahms 4
Kleiber/Vienna
Coherence, logic, depth

3. Beethoven 6
Vanska/Minnesota
An ecosystem in perfect harmony

2. Mahler 6
Jansons/BRSO (concert)
The existence of hope despite crushing bleakness

1. Schubert 9
Dohnanyi/Cleveland
Nobility, clarity, vitality, a trancelike 45 min of bliss
 

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1. Franz Schmidt 4: Mehta/VPO. Beauty, depth, sounds from a world long gone.
2. Elgar 2: Tate/LSO. Powerful, dark, heartbreaking.
3. Mahler 7: Bernstein/NYPO (Sony). Phantasmagoric wizardry. Still my favorite recordings 50 years on.
4. Tchaikovsky 6: Monteux/BSO. Flawlessly paced - doesn't wallow in excess.
5. Ernest Bloch Symphony in C sharp minor: Markiz/BIS. Stunning power and virtuosity and deeply felt.
6. Brahms 1: Munch/BSO. Magnificent, understanding, and thoroughly entertaining.
7. Sibelius 2: Barbirolli/RPO. Thrilling beyond measure - never equalled, let alone surpassed.
8. Rachmaninoff 2: Temirkinov/RPO. Magnificent potent reading - and uncut!
9. Mahler 2: Scherchen/VSO. Crappy playing, sloppy at times. Lousy recording. But no one understood the work as well.
10. Kalinnikov 1: Jarvi/SNO. Joyous, exciting, treats it like the great work it is.
 

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10. Langgaard 6 'Det Himmelrivende' (Járvi, Royal Danish Radio S.O.): Absolutely stunning, dramatic, intense, powerful, condensed in around 20 minutes.

9. Tubin 2 (Järvi, Swedish Radio S.O.): I like works with fire and this one contents much of it, a really exciting symphony.

8. Atterberg 8 (Rasilainen, cpo): Well crafted, incredible melodies, even Sibelius admired this beautiful creation.

7. Shotakovich 8 (Haitink, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra): Utterly bleak, desolate, one of his most pessimistic works, which is not a disadvantage. A very visceral work,

6. Nielsen 5 (Rozhdestvensky, Royal Stockholm P.O.): A benchmark in the 20th century with echoes of war, a wit construction of 2 big movements.

5. Brahms 4 (Karajan, BPO, DG, 1978): Well, it's a masterpiece, an authentic pinnacle of art.

4. Dvorák 8 (Kertesz, LSO): It's one of the happiest works I know, it really exudes bliss, yet there is a little of drama as well, and because its amazing tunes.

3. Tchaikovsky 5 (Karajan, BPO, EMI): Since the first time I heard this work, I fell in love with it. It might not be his best symphony, but I find it utterly appealing and life-affirming.

2. Beethoven 7 (Karajan, BPO, DG, 1962): I don't have to give many explanations about it. You know the answer :)

1. Glière 3 (Downes, BBC Philharmonic): I am simply a fan of epic scores, monumental pieces that contain a sort of legend or story behind it, and this work represents masterfully all that.
 

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interesting thread. I thought it’s a good idea with the blurb. Interesting choices above.

1. Berlioz Symphony Fantastique (Mackerras). Great swagger. A psychedelic trip (as Berstein described)
2. Henze Symphony 7 (Rattle). Proof of great music and orchestration traditionally structured within last 40 years.
3. Mahler Symphony 7 (Klemperer). Mankind and music.
4. Martinu Symphony 4 (Jarvi). Plain and pleasant.
5. Prokofiev Symphony 5 (Karajan). Dissonant, humourous as his music is always.
6. Schubert Symphony 8 (Bohm). Moody. Thankfully he left it that way.
7. Shostakovich Symphony 10 (Karajan). Hell on earth.
8. Haydn Lamentatione Symphony 26 (Kuijken). Unerringly Beautiful Music from Classical Period not Mozart’s or Beethoven’s.
9. Dvorak Symphony 9 (Talich). Big and bold sound.
10. Harty Irish Symphony (Thomson). A pack of good tunes.
 

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1. Beethoven 9: Karajan. Buoyant and alive.
2. Brahms 4: Kleiber. Inscrutably moving.
3. Bruckner 9: Karajan. Somber and hymnic.
4. Sibelius 2: Berglund. Icy.
5. Schumann 3: Gardiner. Naturalistic.
6. Haydn 102: Bernstein. Stately.
7. Mahler 9: Boulez. Swirling.
8. Shostakovich 8: Mravinsky. Haunting.
9. Tchaikovsky 5: Karajan. Addicting.
10. Beethoven 3: Savall. Triumphant.
 

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No.1 - All time favorite symphony is Beethoven 6th. Current favorite recording is Barenboim and the 1999 Statskapelle. Why? Best overall sound quality plus all the right things in all the right places.

Now, in no particular order:

Bizet- Symphony in C. Suitner conducting Staatskapelle Dresden. Blrw me out of the water first time I heard it.

Mahler Symphony 4. Anton Nanut conducting an orchestra I wont attempt to spell. Orchestra is quite good but the boy soloist makes the recording special. It's a childs view of heaven/paradise sung masterfully by a child.

Beethoven 9th. Hard to choose a favorite Szell or Fricsay? Today I choose Fricsay and the Berliner Philharmoniker for a faultless performance and because 1958 is my year.

Saint Saens Symphony 3. Hans Fagius, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and James DePreist. Gripping performance start to finish, never lags, perfect balance of organ and orchestra.

Borodin Symphony no. 2. Ansermet and L' Orchestre etc. A thoroughly enjoyable and lively symphony that is the least Russian sounding symphony by a Russian composer I know of.

Mahler Symphony no. 5. Shipway and the RPO. They flat out nail it.

Mendelssohn Symphony no.1. Abbado and LSO. Not considered one of the composers best efforts and I don't know why. Showcases his early genius. Abbado and LSO don't treat it as a throw away piece.

Schubert symphony no.2. Blomstedt and that Staatskapelle Dresden once again. Each movement different in style and all joined in a magnificently convincing manner. Stunning original genius on the level of Beethoven.


Mahler Symphony no. 2 . Kaplan and the LSO. I don't even like all Mahler symphonies but 3 make my top 10. Kaplan's love and respect for the music makes this recording exceptional.

I love my symphonies. Start a honorable mention thread and I have more!
 

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In alphabetical order, no ranking, one per composer. The recordings mentioned are one of many I enjoy, I went for variety.

Beethoven 6 - Bohm/Vienna. Always brings a smile.
Brahms 3 - Bernstein/NYP. I love all Brahms and like that this symphony ends peacefully. Bernstein and Brahms go together.
Bruckner 7 - Karajan/Berlin. I came to Bruckner late but have grown to appreciate hinm. The seventh speaks to me the most.
Franck - Monteux/Chicago. This recording was the earliest classical record that became a desert island disc for me. Perfect.
Mahler 6 - Bernstein/Vienna. The Mahler I listen to most, but any would be favourites except 8.
Saint Saens 3 - De Waart/Rotterdam or SF. This work never fails to thrill me. De Waart nails it.
Schubert 8 - Wand/Cologne. I’ve always found it haunting.
Shostakovich 10 - Karajan/Berlin. I’m a big Shosty fan and could gave picked 4,5,8,11 or 15 as well. This one is thought provoking and brutal.
Sibelius 2 - Karajan/Berlin. I love all his symphonies for 7 different reasons. This one is stirring.
Tchaikovsky 6 - Mravinsky/Leningrad. Elegiac.
 

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1. Bruckner 8th - Furtwangler 1944
2. Beethoven 9th - Furtwangler 1942
3. Brahms 3rd - Furtwangler 1954
4. Mahler 9th - Barbirolli live 1960
5. Mahler 7th - Klemperer
6. Beethoven 5th - Furtwangler 5/25/47
7. Mahler 5th - Barbirolli
8. Brahms 4th - Furtwangler 1949
9. Beethoven 3rd - Furtwangler 1944
10. Tchaikovsky 6th - Furtwangler 1951
10. (tie) Mahler 4th - Mengelberg
 

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1. Mahler's 10th
it has a very interesting depiction of death and the last hours of one's life.

2. Brahms' 1st
the first movement really pulled me back into classical music.

3. Mahler's 1st "Titan" (tied)
3. Mahler's 2nd "Resurrection" (tied)
both these pieces remind me of various works i have done in the past. (so the imagery is more personal that the portray Mahler normally gives off.)

5. Kosaku Yamada Symphony in F Minor "triumph and peace"
you can tell the birth of J-rock (specifically visual kai) happened from this work.

6. Beethoven's 5th
two reasons, it is one of the few symphonic pieces i can listen to as i am walking to another location... it is energetic enough but not too energetic to make me want to run. and the second, it is Opus 67 (which 67 is my favourite number.)

7. Dvorak's 9th (or which ever number you want to give it.) "From the New World"
personally, it is the most enjoyable structure theory-wise for a symphony. Plus the imaging is fairly beautiful.

8. Ive's (unfinished) Universe Symphony
even though he quit it early. I can see the potential of how it would turned out. Which leaves a bunch of room for creative thought...

9. Beethoven's 9th
This is the first symphony i ever heard in my life. And probably was the reason i initially loved classical music.

10. Sorabji's Organ Symphony No. 1
the opening sounds like something i would do. plus it is long, and has it's own beauty. although i have to be in a decent environment for a few hours... preferably seven since i end up listening to Opus Clavicembalisticum soon after...
 

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Not in any particular order.

Mahler - Symphony No 7 - Michael Tilson Thomas / London Symphony Orchestra (1999)

Bruckner - Symphony No 9 - Wilhelm Furtwangler / Berliner Philharmoniker (1944)

Beethoven - Symphony No 7 - Wilhelm Furtwangler / Berliner Philharmoniker (1943)

Brahms - Symphony No 3 - Eugen Jochum / Berliner Philharmoniker (1953)

Nielsen - Symphony No 1 - Ole Schmidt / London Symphony Orchestra (1974)

Walton - Symphony No 1 - Sir Hamilton Harty / London Symphony Orchestra (1935)

Shostakovich - Symphony No 5 - Kurt Sanderling / Berliner Sinfonie Orchester (1982)

Sibelius - Symphony No 2 - Sir John Barbirolli / New York Philharmonic Orchestra (1940)

Rachmaninov - Symphony No 2 - Leopold Stokowski / Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra (1946)

Schubert - Symphony No 8 ("Unfinished") - Eugen Jochum / Concertgebouw Orkest (1952)
 

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In no particular order a few of the many.

A Mahler 2 Philharmonia O Klemperer

B Bruckner Symph 6 New Philharmonia Klemperer

C Borodin Symph 2 Royal Philharmonic Ashkenazy

D Sibelius Symph 1 Vienna Philharmonic Bernstein

E Mahler Symph 3 LSO Tilson Thomas

F Shostakovich Symph 4 London Philharmonic Haitink

G Beethoven Symph 7 (& 8) Cleveland O Von Dohnanyi

H Tchaikovsky Symph 5 San Francisco Tilson Thomas

I Bruckner Symph 5 Vienna P O Haitink

J Simpson Symph 9 Bournemouth Symphony Handley

Like so many of you I could go on !!! but 10 it is.
 

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Mendelssohn 5 - Haitink, London Philharmonic / Toscanini, NBC Orchestra

Bruckner 5 - Horenstin, BBC Philharmonic

Haydn 86 - Dorati

Beethoven 6 - Ansermet, L'orchestre de la Suisse Romande

Brahms 4 - Furtwangler, BPO (Wiesbaden 1949) / Schmidt-Isserstedt, NW German Radio Orchestra

Bruckner 1 & 2 - Jochum, BPO & Bayreuth Radio Orchestra

Bruckner 3 - Schuricht, Vienna Philharmonic (1965)

Haydn 60 - Blum, Esterhazy Orchestra

Shostakovich 8 - Haitink, Concertgebouw

Stravinsky Symphony in Three Movements - Stravinsky, New York Philharmonic (1947)
 

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Mendelssohn 5 - Haitink, London Philharmonic / Toscanini, NBC Orchestra

Bruckner 5 - Horenstin, BBC Philharmonic

Haydn 86 - Dorati

Beethoven 6 - Ansermet, L'orchestre de la Suisse Romande

Brahms 4 - Furtwangler, BPO (Wiesbaden 1949) / Schmidt-Isserstedt, NW German Radio Orchestra

Bruckner 1 & 2 - Jochum, BPO & Bayreuth Radio Orchestra

Bruckner 3 - Schuricht, Vienna Philharmonic (1965)

Haydn 60 - Blum, Esterhazy Orchestra

Shostakovich 8 - Haitink, Concertgebouw

Stravinsky Symphony in Three Movements - Stravinsky, New York Philharmonic (1947)
 

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Mendelssohn 5 - Haitink, London Philharmonic / Toscanini, NBC Orchestra

Bruckner 5 - Horenstin, BBC Philharmonic

Haydn 86 - Dorati

Beethoven 6 - Ansermet, L'orchestre de la Suisse Romande

Brahms 4 - Furtwangler, BPO (Wiesbaden 1949) / Schmidt-Isserstedt, NW German Radio Orchestra

Bruckner 1 & 2 - Jochum, BPO & Bayreuth Radio Orchestra

Bruckner 3 - Schuricht, Vienna Philharmonic (1965)

Haydn 60 - Blum, Esterhazy Orchestra

Shostakovich 8 - Haitink, Concertgebouw

Stravinsky Symphony in Three Movements - Stravinsky, New York Philharmonic (1947)
 

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1. Bruckner 9 (mvt 1)
2. Bruckner 8 (mvt 1)
3. Mahler 9 (mvt 1)
4. Bruckner 3 (mvt 2)
5. Mozart 41 (mvt 4)
6. Mahler 6 (Andante)
7. Beethoven 9 (mvt 4)
8. Bruckner 5 (mvt 4)
9. Brahms 4 (mvt 4)
10. Bruckner 6 (mvt 2)

(BEST movement)

Can you guess my favorite composer?
 
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Glazunov, Tchaikovsky, Myaskovsky, Rachmaninoff, Bruckner, Massenet, Schumann, Wagner, Strauss, Bax.
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My top ten symphonies (in no particular order)
  • Bruckner: Symphony no. VIII (Gunther Wand and the Berlin Philharmonic)
  • Glazunov: Symphony no. VI (Jose Serebrier and the Royal National Symphony Orchestra)
  • Charles Ives: Symphony no. II (Leonard Bernstein and the NY Philharmonic)*
  • Mahler: Symphony no. IX (Leonard Bernstein and the Royal Concertgebouw or James Levine and the Philadelphia Orchestra)
  • Schmidt: Symphony no. IV (Mehta and the Vienna Philharmonic)
  • Tchaikovsky: Symphony no. V (Leonard Bernstein and the NY Philharmonic)*
  • Atterberg: Symphony no. II (Ari Rasilainen and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra)
  • Braga Santos: Symphony no. IV (Cassuto and the National Symphony Orch. of Ireland)
  • Sibelius: Symphony no. II (Leonard Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic)
  • Myaskovsky: Symphony no. XVI or XXVII, I love them both (Svetlanov & the Federation Symphony of Russia).
Honorable mentions
  • Suk: Asrael Symphony (a tough call, but it is Belohlavek and the Czech Philharmonic)
  • Dvorak: Symphony no. VII (Kertesz and the London Symphony)
  • Dvorak: Symphony no. III (Myung-Whun Chung and the Vienna Philharmonic)
  • Stanford: Symphony no. V (Handley and the Ulster Orchestra)
  • Bruckner: Symphony no. IX (Giulini and the Vienna Philharmonic)
  • Tchaikovsky: Manfred (Simonov and the London Symphony)
  • Elgar: Symphony no. II (Davis and the London Symphony)
  • Balakirev: Symphony no. I (Svetlanov and the USSR Symphony)
  • Rachmaninoff: Symphony no. I (Ashkenazy and the Royal Concertgebouw)
  • Scriabin: Symphony no. I (Muti and the Philadelphia Symphony)
  • Dohnanyi: Symphony no. I (Botstein and the London Philharmonic)
  • Walton: Symphony no. I (Thomson and the London Philharmonic)
  • Vaughan Williams: Symphony no. II-original (Hickox and the London Symphony)
  • Parry: Symphony no. IV or V (Bamert and the London Philharmonic)
  • Bainton: Symphony no. II (Handley and the BBC Philharmonic)
  • Bax: Symphony no. II or III (Thomson and the London Philharmonic)
  • Barisons, Peteris: Symphony no. II (Edgar Tons and the Latvian Radio Symphony)
  • Skulte: Symphony no. I (Leonids Vigners and the Latvian State Symphony)
  • Creston: Symphony no. II (Jarvi and the Detroit Symphony)
  • Shostakovich: Symphony no. VIII (Solti and the Chicago Symphony)
  • Weinberg: Symphony no. VI (Kondrashin and the Moscow Philharmonic)
  • Tubin: Symphony no. IV (Volmer and the Estonian National Symphony)
  • Kapp, Artur: Symphony no. I (Estonian Radio Symphony, cond. by Vallo Jarvi(?))
  • Nielsen: Symphony no. III (Thomson and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra)
  • Liszt: Faust Symphony (Solti and the Chicago Symphony or Bernstein and the Boston Symphony)
  • Lloyd, George: Symphony no. XI (Lloyd and the Albany Symphony)
  • Gliere: Symphony no. III (Edward Downes and the BBC Philharmonic)
  • Lyatoshynsky: Symphony no. III (Kuchar and the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine)
  • Roussel: Symphony no. I (Dutoit and the French National Orchestra)
  • Diamond: Symphony no. I or IV (Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony)
  • Hanson: Symphony no. I (Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony)
  • Still: Symphony no. II (Jarvi and the Detroit Symphony)
  • Franck: Symphony in D (Bernstein and the French National Orchestra)
  • Chausson: Symphony in B-flat (Tortelier and the BBC Philharmonic)
  • Goldmark: Rustic Wedding Symphony (Butt and the Royal Philharmonic)
  • Melartin: Symphony no. IV (Grin and the Tampere Philharmonic)
*DG recording.
 

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Mendelssohn 5 - Haitink, London Philharmonic / Toscanini, NBC Orchestra

Bruckner 5 - Horenstein, BBC Philharmonic

Haydn 86 - Dorati

Beethoven 6 - Ansermet, L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande

Stravinsky - Symphony in Three Movements - Stravinsky, New York Philharmonic (1947)

Bruckner 1 & 2 - Jochum, Berlin Philharmonc & Bayreuth Radio Orchestra

Bruckner 3 - Schuricht, Vienna Philharmonic (1965)

Brahms 4 - Furtwangler, Berlin Philharmonic (Wiesbaden 1949)/Schmidt-Isserstedt, Hamburg Radio Orchestra

Shostakovich 8 - Haitink, Concertgebouw Orchestra

Hanson 2 "Romantic" - Hanson, Eastman-Rochester Orchestra
 

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Brahms 4 - Furtwangler, Berlin Philharmonic (Wiesbaden 1949)/Schmidt-Isserstedt, Hamburg Radio Orchestra
Glad you mentioned this particular performance (as did I). People tend to be more familiar with either the wartime Furtwangler 4th or the 1948 one on EMI, but I think this is the greatest of his Brahms 4ths. The Mozart 40 from the same concert is pretty darned good too!
 
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