The Ninth, the Tenth, and Das Lied von der Erde are so superior to the rest of Mahler's output that they almost seem the work of a different, much greater composer. But then, as Alma knew very well, you love Gustav for his flaws, not despite them.
Alex Ross, that Mahler aficionado, has published his list of favorite recordings of the symphonies and of Das Lied Von Der Erde.
One is, obviously, unlikely to resist. Here are Opera Chic's favorite recordings:
Mahler I: Ormandy, Philly -- Appropriately vulgar
Mahler II: Klemperer & Ferrier, Concertgebouw -- Best Mahler conductor & best mezzo ever
Mahler III: Barbirolli, Berliner -- Shakespeherian in its majesty
Mahler IV: Haitink, Berliner -- Bernie shines
Mahler V: Temirkanov, St. Petersburg -- The most delicately, intricately woven version
Mahler VI: Sinopoli, Philharmonia -- The greatest intellectual of the podium at work
Mahler VII: Solti, Chicago -- Simply classic
Mahler VIII: Chailly, Concertgebouw -- Merciless, elegant order out of chaos
Mahler IX: C. Abbado, S. Cecilia -- Re Claudio, the philosopher King
Mahler X: Harding, Wiener Philharmoniker -- Young Daniel joins the major league
Mahler, Das Lied von der Erde: Bernstein, Wiener Philharmoniker -- Lenny lives