Best Mahler Third

I have been listening this year to a new Mahler 3rd that now IMO is clearly best now available, Rattle/EMI. Those familiar with Mahler 2nd Rattle/EMI from 1987 know the fine readings Simon Rattle is capable of. This new 1998 3rd is sonically the best mahler recording I have heard, extreme dynamic range and powerful bass, delicate inner detail. My previous favorite was Horenstein/Unicorn, and I also own Bernstein/DG and have heard Salonen/Sony which also is great sound but average performance. Anyone else have a favorite or comment on Rattle/EMI 3rd?
Performance-wise, the best I've heard is the Levine/CSO version (late '70s, early '80s). I may be biased, but no one plays Mahler better than the CSO, with Herseth, Crisafoli (sp?) etc. brass section back then. Best 2nd of all I've heard was the Abaddo/CSO on DG. This again is performance, not sonics. Just my HO. Chris
Without a doubt the best sonically. However in the final movement I think that the long line disappears. Horenstein captures it. I also think that Levine does an excellent job but I'm biased when it comes to the CSO since I attended almost every performance in the 70's (including the performance that preceeded Levine's recording)
Time doesn't permit me much elaboration here. I would generally echo positive comments re CSO/Solti. A wonderful all-around Mahler 4 offering is a '92 Sony recording of the LA phil./Salonen/Barbara Hendricks. This is an especially natural sounding recording with none of the usual digital atrocities. I would like to discuss Mahler much more extensively if this thread continues.
PLS there is no doubt that Horenstein sustains the "long line" in the final movement better than anyone else. Magnificent sustained build up, kettle drums providing impressive drive and power, one of my favorite Mahler 3rds. It is a shame that there are not many Horenstein recordings available. Impossible to hear all versions, good to hear comments about other members favorite versions.
When evaluating a recording, several criteria for consideration come to mind: naturalness of the recording itself; quality of the performing artists; cohesiveness and balance of ensemble (ensemble playing); and the interpretation. These are listed in inverse order of importance with the last and most important two being largely under the purview of the conductor. With so architecturally massive a work as Mahler 3, a significant commitment of dedicated listening time must be allocated in order to better, if not fully, appreciate Mahler's intellectual and spiritual soundworld. To paraphrase Mahler, "people may need some time to crack these nuts." It's a real challenge for a maestro to unify the large forces involved and produce a logical and successful musical experience for the critical listener. For such a work to be considered successfully performed, the huge final Langsam movement MUST present the continuously evolving melodic line effectively to a satisfying culmination in the D Major coda. It is interesting to consider (and hear) Mahler's original plan of 7 rather than 6 movements for this symphony...the final movement of the 4th symphony being originally composed as a 7th movement for the 3rd. symphony. (Try appending it yourself to hear the resulting effect). Considering the disrupting influence which this seems to have upon the structural balance of the total work we can easily appreciate Mahler's wisdom in revising his own design. So how do we measure a great performance? Ideally, it would be successful in all of the first mentioned characteristics. But is this too much to ask? I think so. Granted, on average orchestras are better today and recording technology, when done well, is very much improved. Yet one can ask, does this generation of maestros have more to offer than those who were closer to or contemporaneous with Mahler himself? What of Mengelberg and Barbirolli? And I would like to have heard what Furtwangler's Mahler might have sounded like given his sense of the grand scheme. Do we like a performance because it just pleases us, or because we have studied and hopefully understand Mahler and it please us? Is it because we appreciate the brilliance of the orchestra or the reputation of the maestro? Or perhaps because a particular recording makes our audio system sound better than anything else we've heard? The investment of enough time should provide the appropriate answer for each of us.
My one and only is Bernstein/New York DG 427-328-2