Given the vast number of examples, the survey that I did of recordings of Mahler Symphonies — “Mahler on Record: The Spirit or the Letter?” — in the book Perspectives on Gustav Mahler had to be restricted.
I decided to do this in several ways by considering only:
– the first seven symphonies, which Mahler himself conducted,
– those conductors with connections to Mahler, and
– those conductors central to the stimulation of interest in the composer in the middle of the twentieth century.
The Eighth Symphony was omitted, largely because it has fewer interpretive problems; Barbirolli was omitted because his influence was limited by EMI’s lack of interest in recording him in Mahler, and Horenstein was not discussed for similar reasons — a great pity in both cases.
However, I did make the point in passing that, in most of the the commercial recordings he made, Horenstein was not well-served by his recording team. The over-use of multi-miking and the musical insensitivity of the balance engineers frequently conspired to wreck Mahler’s carefully considered orchestral balance. This is regrettable, and unfortunately cannot be remedied by any amount of “restoration” work, because the recordings were committed directly to stereo.
I have placed an illustrated example of this poor balance on my website where a link is also given to pages from the essay.