This, quite simply, is the most exhilarating, most accurate, most sensitive and most breathtakingly beautiful recording of a Mahler symphony that I have ever heard. Recorded in the accoustically outstanding Symphony Hall, the quality of the sound is perfectly crisp; every small detail of Mahler's inspirational orchestration can be heard. Sir Simon Rattle manages to control the huge forces of the CBSO with both dignity and flair. One of the highlights of the recording is the virtuosity with which the fiendishly difficult violin passages in the second movement are pulled off; the security of the ensemble is incredibly tight here and Rattle seems to be able to take this for granted in his fluid interpretation (perhaps spot on in the eyes of Mahler apart from the strangely swift final phrase of the last movement) of the work. The songs which bring the second CD to a close are a welcome bonus but are really nothing more than a space-filler after the epic main attraction.