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 Recording of the Week  Rattle and Gergiev on Mahler

Two of the world's greatest living conductors release recordings of Mahler symphonies this month. Simon Rattle, having already recorded the entire cycle once, now goes back to the Ninth Symphony, this time with his current orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic (his earlier version being with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra). And at the end of the month Valery Gergiev releases his debut recording on the LSO's own label with his first ever commercial recording of a Mahler symphony. No. 6 marks the start of a complete cycle of the composer's symphonies under Gergiev on the label.

Sir Simon Rattle
Sir Simon Rattle

Simon Rattle has already built a distinguished reputation as a Mahler interpreter, and here he further enhances that. It can't be often that the playing of the Vienna Philharmonic is shown up by another orchestra, but comparing Rattle's earlier 1993 recording with this one suggests exactly that, particularly in the last movement where the strings play with such passion and the wind solos are so beautifully characterized and phrased. It may be more due to the fact that Rattle has matured in this time but either way this is surely one of the greatest recordings of that work to have ever been made.

Valery Gergiev
Valery Gergiev

It is surprising that Gergiev has not recorded any Mahler before, as he seems so naturally suited to this style of Romantic music. He brings his inevitable intensity and drama to it (possibly all the more so because it is a live recording) and it looks likely to be the start of what will become one of the outstanding Mahler Symphony cycles on record. It is also included in our new LSO Live special offer so comes at an astonishingly low price. Following No. 6, three further releases will appear during 2008 with the remainder to follow in 2009.

With these two releases we're also launching a new feature on the site in the form of short videos about the recordings. I know people enjoy the sound samples when we put them in and hopefully the videos will prove equally popular (you'll be pleased to hear we're currently negotiating with many labels the rights in order include both sound samples and videos much more frequently). The videos are of course slightly one sided as they are commissioned and paid for by the record labels, but they do provide valuable insights into how the conductors are approaching these works, and the Gergiev one also has good amusement value provided by his gruntings at the beginning!

On a rather boring (but necessary) technical note I should mention that the videos are in the form of a 'flash' file. Most people have flash installed so we expect this to work seamlessly for the majority. If you don't currently have flash installed it should prompt you to download and install it (which is free). Also, finding the appropriate compromise between a good sound and picture quality, while maintaining a small enough file size to download it quickly is not easy, and we'd be interested to hear any positive and negative experiences in this respect.

Mahler: Symphony No. 9 in D major

Berliner Philharmoniker, Sir Simon Rattle

Out today - March 3rd

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Mahler: Symphony No. 6 in A minor 'Tragic'

London Symphony Orchestra, Valery Gergiev

Released March 31st - but you can pre-order your copy now

Available Formats: MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC