Pierre Boulez's Mahler series reaches another high point with this outstanding recording of orchestral songs, including the Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer), the five Rückert-Lieder, and the Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the Death of Children). Paradoxically, perhaps, Mahler's dazzlingly imaginative orchestration in this repertoire often holds as much interest for the listener as the vocal line, and true to form, Boulez draws finely detailed playing from the Vienna Philharmonic, with especially distinguished contributions from the orchestra's winds. But Boulez has also marshaled an excellent group of singers: Thomas Quasthoff tackles the "Wayfarer" songs, bringing his rich baritone to a dramatically charged account, while the soprano Violeta Urmana shines in the "Rückert" songs, and the mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter offers a deeply affecting Kindertotenlieder (her spellbinding "In diesem Wetter," which begins with expressionistic unease and concludes with consoling calm, is arguably the disc's finest track). Other versions of these widely recorded scores -- particularly such classics as Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau's and Janet Baker's, both in EMI's Great Recordings of the Century series -- still deserve a place in a well-stocked classical collection. But this disc, with lucid, well-balanced sound, instantly joins the select group of the best there is.