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This is one of DG's "Originals--Legendary Recordings from the DG Catalogue," and it more than deserves its label. Kubelik was the conductor who broke through almost half a century of silence when it came to Mahler in Germany; when he recorded this in 1968, most Germans had not heard a performance of Mahler since the Nazis effectively banned him as a "degenerate" (i.e. Jewish at birth, though he later converted to Catholicism) composer. Having been fortunate to hear Barenboim conduct this symphony with his Staatskapelle in Berlin in 2006, it is obvious that Germans today have no lack of familiarity or appreciation of him. Most would agree that Mahler is one of the three greatest symphonists in history (with Beethoven and Brahms), and his First, while not of the same stature as his later works, is a wonderful indicator of things to come. Kubelik's interpretation is not quite as exciting as Solti's on Decca or Abbado's (live on DG), but it is well worth having for any Mahler fan, especially given its historical significance. The bonus is Fischer-Dieskau singing the Lieder Eines Fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer), a wonderful set of four songs with orchestra which are similar in setting and mood to Schubert's Winterreise. This is the best recording available of the Lieder, sung by arguably the greatest of all baritones at the height of his vocal prowess, so it alone makes the disc worthwhile. The notes include two essays and a complete translation of the songs' lyrics, which were written by Mahler himself early in his career and are fascinating to read now in light of the triumph and tragedy of his life to come. I would recommend this disc to anyone who loves (or would like to experience) Mahler.
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