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Mahler's First Symphony in Building a Library with Gillian Moore and Andrew McGregor

Gillian Moore chooses her favourite recording of Mahler's First Symphony. Plus, in an end-of-year round-up, the Record Review production team share their top picks of 2020.

with Andrew McGregor

9.30 Building a Library
Gillian Moore chooses her favourite recording of Mahler's Symphony No. 1.

Of all his symphonies, it was the First which gave Mahler the most trouble. Was it a two-part symphonic poem, did it have a programme, or was it just a symphony...? Should it have four or five movements? By the time Mahler published it as Symphony No. 1 in 1899, he'd been working on it for more than ten years, constantly revising it since its 1888 premiere in front of an indifferent Budapest audience. For a long time the symphony's lukewarm reception continued to perplex and disappoint Mahler. But at under an hour, full of good tunes and orchestral drama, it's one of the shortest and most often performed and recorded of all his symphonies.

End-of-Year Round-Up: the Record Review production team share their top picks of 2020.

Record of the Week
Andrew recommends an outstanding new release.

2 hours, 47 minutes

Music Played

  • Giuseppe Torelli

    Concerto grosso in G Minor, Op. 8 No. 6 "Pastorale per il Santissimo Natale"

    Orchestra: Concerto Copenhagen. Director: Lars Ulrik Mortensen.
    • Per la notte di Natale: Italian Christmas Concertos.
    • Naxos.
    • 201.
  • Errollyn Wallen

    Peace on Earth

    Performer: Donal McCann. Singer: George Hill. Choir: Choir of King’s College, Cambridge. Conductor: Stephen Cleobury.
    • Errollyn Wallen: Peace on Earth.
    • Kings College Cambridge.
    • 101.
  • Bohuslav Martinů

    3 Christmas Pieces: Sledge, Lullaby, Christmas Carol

    Performer: Ksenia Kouzmenko.
    • Cobra.
  • Juan García de Zéspedes

    Convidando está la noche

    Ensemble: Siglo de Oro. Director: Patrick Allies.
    • Delphian.
  • Trad.

    Thula Baba

    Performer: Yo‐Yo Ma. Performer: Kathryn Stott.
    • Sony.
  • George Malcolm

    Gloria (Missa ad Prasesepe)

    Performer: Matthew Searles. Choir: The Choir of Buckfast Abbey. Director: Philip Arkwright.
    • Ad Fontes.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Komm, Jesu, komm, BWV 229

    Ensemble: Ensemble Pygmalion. Conductor: Raphaël Pichon.
    • Johann Sebastian Bach: Motets.
    • harmonia mundi.
    • 103.
  • Dmitry Shostakovich

    Concerto No 1 in A minor Op 77 for violin and orchestra (2nd mvt)

    Performer: Alina Ibragimova. Orchestra: State Academic Symphony Orchestra of The Russian Federation. Conductor: Vladimir Jurowski.
    • Hyperion.
  • Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis

    In the Forest

    Orchestra: Lietuvos nacionalinis simfoninis orkestras. Conductor: Modestas Pitrėnas.
    • Čiurlionis: The Sea, In the Forest & Kęstutis.
    • Ondine.
    • 2.
  • Johannes Brahms

    Gestillte Sehnsucht Op. 91 No. 1

    Performer: Graham Johnson. Singer: Sophie Rennert.
    • Hyperion.
  • Frédéric Chopin

    Piano Concerto no.2 in F minor Op.21 (3rd mvt)

    Performer: Benjamin Grosvenor. Orchestra: Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Conductor: Elim Chan.
    • Chopin Piano Concertos.
    • Decca.
    • 06.
  • Peteris Vasks

    Concerto for Viola & String Orchestra (3rd mvt)

    Performer: Maxim Rysanov. Orchestra: Sinfonietta Rīga.
    • Pēteris Vasks: Viola Concerto & Symphony No. 1 "Voices".
    • BIS.
    • 103.
  • Cyrillus Kreek

    Awake, My Heart

    Choir: Vox Clamantis. Director: Jaan-Eik Tulve.
    • ECM.
  • Giuseppe Verdi

    Attila (Act 2 No. 11, Finale)

    Singer: Ildebrando d’Arcangelo. Singer: Liudmyla Monastyrska. Singer: Stefano La Colla. Choir: Bavarian Radio Chorus. Orchestra: Munich Radio Orchestra. Conductor: Ivan Repušić.
    • BR Klassik.

Record Review



Per la Notte di Natale: Italian Christmas Concertos

Concerto Copenhagen

Lars Ulrik Mortensen (director)

Naxos 8.574264


Errollyn Wallen: Peace on Earth

George Hill (treble)

Dónal McCann (organ)

Choir of King's College Cambridge

Stephen Cleobury (director)

Kings College KGS0050 (download only)


Vánoce - Christmas in Czech Piano Music

Ksenia Kouzmenko (piano)

Cobra COBRA0079


Christmas in Puebla

Siglo de Oro

Patrick Allies (director)

Delphian DCD34238

Songs of Comfort and Hope

Yo-Yo Ma (cello)

Kathryn Stott (piano)

Sony 19439822372


Puer natus est: Christmas Day Mass from Buckfast Abbey

The Choir of Buckfast Abbey

Matthew Searles (organ)

Philip Arkwright (director)

Ad Fontes AF 005


9.30am – Building a Library – Gillian Moore on Mahler’s First Symphony


Composer: Gustav Mahler

Reviewer: Gillian Moore

Recommended Recording:

Columbia Symphony Orchestra

Bruno Walter (conductor)

Sony 19075923242 (77 CDs) or G0100040942598 (download)


Other Recommended Recording(s):


Budapest Festival Orchestra

Iván Fischer (conductor)

Channel CCSSA33112 (Hybrid SACD)


Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra

Mariss Jansons (conductor)

BR Klassik 900179



10.15am – The Record Review team’s top choices of 2020


JS Bach: Motets

Ensemble Pygmalion

Raphaël Pichon (director)

Harmonia Mundi HMM902657!/albums/2647


Shostakovich: Violin Concertos

Alina Ibragimova (violin)

State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia 'Evgeny Svetlanov'

Vladimir Jurowski (conductor)

Hyperion CDA68313


Čiurlionis: The Sea; In the Forest; Kestutis

Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra

Modestas Pitrėnas (conductor)

Ondine ODE13442


Brahms: The Complete Songs, Vol. 10 - Sophie Rennert

Sophie Rennert (mezzo-soprano)

Graham Johnson (piano)

Hyperion CDJ33130


Chopin: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2

Benjamin Grosvenor (piano)

Royal Scottish National Orchestra

Elim Chan (conductor)

Decca 4850365


Vasks: Viola Concerto & String Symphony 'Voices'

Maxim Rysanov (viola/conductor)

Sinfonietta Rīga

BIS BIS2443 (Hybrid SACD)


Kreek: The Suspended Harp of Babel

Vox Clamantis

Jan-Eik Tulve (director)

ECM 4819041


Verdi: Attila

Ildebrando D'Arcangelo (bass, Attila)

Liudmyla Monastyrska (soprano, Odabella)

Stefano La Colla (tenor, Foresto)

George Petean (baritone, Ezio)

Stefan Sbonnik (tenor, Uldino)

Gabriel Rollinson (bass, Leone)

Bavarian Radio Chorus

Munich Radio Orchestra

Ivan Repušić (conductor)

BR Klassik 900330 (2 CDs)


  • Sat 19 Dec 2020 09:00

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