Christoph von Dohnanyi, ending his tenure as music director of the Cleveland Orchestra, has issued a massive, five-CD collection on the Decca label. The set contains 10 of the most popular symphonies of the late-Romantic giants Gustav Mahler (Symphonies 1, 4, 5 and 6) and Anton Bruckner (Symphonies 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 9).
This enormous project indicates that the Cleveland Orchestra has lost none of the extraordinary finesse it developed under the legendary George Szell. Under the conductor's guidance the orchestra performed with a cohesion that made more than one critic compare its playing to chamber music for its freshness, spontaneity, light and transparent sound and sense of dialogue.
The box set also shows that the orchestra can play with tremendous discipline and produce the big sound often called for by Mahler and Bruckner, who stretched the idea of the symphony far beyond its previous sonic and expressive limits.