Top 5 Classical recordings

HI all,

I was wondering how many of the AuidogoN fellows engaged in Classical Music would like to have a Thread to share top picks and recommendations, that hopefully will be useful for those looking to start or otherwise expand a collection.

In order to be of help not only to people already into it, but also newcomers, I would ask a double question:

A.- If you were to recommend a top 5 list of masterpieces of all time, to a person looking to get into classical music with no knowledge at all, which would be you recommendations?

B.- Your favorite 5 composers and his 5 top masterpieces.

I know just 5 may be very hard, for question one specially, but to keep it simple and of help to others I thought it may be a good number. And will be easier to to average in the different responses.

Also please provide a recommended recording of each piece if possible.

Lastly I would ask to indicate the number of disks each one owns of the category. It can be interesting to see if the responses changes with the experience of the individual. I don't mean an specific number... don't wanr anyone counting for 3 days 3,543 discs... but maybe a range like:


1.- < 10
2.- > 10 - < 100
3.- > 100 - < 1000
4.- > 1000

What do you think?

I will start myself:


1.- Mozart, Piano concerto No. 20 & 21:

Recommended recording: Mozart Piano Concertos 20-25, Decca, Vladimir Ashkenazy, ASIN: B0000041LF

2.- Beethoven, 5th symphony

Recommended recording: DG, Carlos Kleiber ASIN: B000001GPX

3.- Vivaldi, 4 seasons

Recommended recording: DG, Anne-Sophie Mutter ASIN: B00002DE2L

4.- Schubert, Trout Quintet

Recommended recording: DG, Amadeus Quarter, Emil Giles ASIN: B000001GXF

5.- Brahms, Piano trio no. 1

Recommended recording: Phillips, Beaux arts trio (complete trios), ASIN: B00000416K

B.- (in no particular order)

1.- Schubert

a) String quintet D956.

Recording, DG Late sting quartets, string quintet, Emerson Sting quartet. (Trio series). ASIN: B0001ZWGI8

b) String quartet death and the maiden D810

Recording, DG Late sting quartets, string quintet, Emerson Sting quartet. (Trio series). ASIN: B0001ZWGI8

c) Symphony no. 9 the great

Sony Classical. Bernsein century. Symphony no 8 and no. 9. New York Philharmonic and Bernstein. ASIN: B00003WGO4

d) Piano quintet The trout D667

DG, Amadeus Quarter, Emil Giles ASIN: B000001GXF

e) Piano trio in E flat D929

Decca. Schubert complete trios. Beaux arts trio, Grumiaux trio. (Duo series). ASIN: B00000417B

2.- Tchaikovski

a) Violin concerto no 1

Living stereo. Brahms/Tchaikovsky Violin concertos. Heifetz/Reiner. ASIN: B0009U55RE

b) String quartet no 1

DG Masters. Dvorak American quarter / Tchaikovsky quartet no 1 / Borodin Quarter no 2. Emerson String quartet. ASIN: B000001GO3

c) Piano concerto no 1

Living Stereo. Tchaikovsky piano concerto no 1 / Rachmaninov piano concerto no 2. Van Cliburn. ASIN: B0002TKFRC

d) Trio for piano op 50

DG. Shostakovich - Tchaikovsky trios. Argerich, Kremer, Maisky. ASIN: B00000JSAC

e) Symphony no 6 Pathetique

DG, Tchaikovsky symphonies No 4, 5 & 6, Karajan. ASIN: B000001GYJ

3.- Dvorak

a) Cello Concerto. DG. Dvorák: Cello Concerto, Op. 104 / Tchaikovsky: Rococo Variations, Op. 33. Rostropovich. ASIN: B000001GQ8

b) Quarteto Americano. DG. Dvorák, Tchaikovsky, Borodin: Quartets. Emerson String quarter. ASIN: B000001GO3

c) New world symphony. Dvorák: Symphonies 8 & 9 / Kubelik, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. DG. ASIN: B000001GQ7

d) Piano Quintet. Dvorak: Piano Quintet, Op. 81/ String Quartet No. 10, Op. 51. Decca. Tacaks quartet & Andreas Haefliger. ASIN: B00001IVQR

e) Slavonic Dances. Sony. Cleveland Orchestra and George Szel. ASIN: B00005YD5H

4.- Rachmaninov

a).- Piano concert no 3. Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos 2 & 3 / Ashkenazy, Kondrashin. Decca. ASIN: B00001IVQT

b) Piano concert no 2. Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos 2 & 3 / Ashkenazy, Kondrashin. Decca. ASIN: B00001IVQT

c) Symphony no 2. Rachmaninov: The Symphonies. Ashkenazy. Decca. ASIN: B0000042HY

d) Piano sonata no 2. Horowitz Plays Rachmaninoff/Concerto for Piano in Dm; Sonata for Piano No2/Vladimir Horowitz. RCA. ASIN: B000003ER1

e) Piano concerto no 1. Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 - 4, Decca, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Andre Previn, ASIN: B00000427L

5.- Mozart

a) Piano concerto no 21. Mozart Piano Concertos 20-25, Decca, Vladimir Ashkenazy, ASIN: B0000041LF

b) String quartet no 14. (Hayden quartets). Warner Music. Alban Berg Quartet Mozart: String Quartets Nos. 14 - 23. ASIN: B000024MCP

c) Clarinet quintet. DG. Emerson String Quartet. Mozart / Brahms: Clarinet Quintets. ASIN: B00000IX73

d) Requiem. Mozart: Requiem / Tomowa-Sintow, Müller Molinari, Cole, Burchuladze; von Karajan. ASIN: B000001GK8

e) SYmphony no 41 Jupiter. Mozart: Symphonies Nos. 35, 36, 38- 41. DG. Karl Bohm. ASIN: B000001GQB

C) >100 - < 1000

Ok who is next... thanks
I don't own any classical music although I've been engaged with it at times. I really appreciate your post because it keeps me from having to start a new thread that asks the question you just answered for me. I will start off with Mozart piano concerto 20 & 21.
Nice post. I will have to sort through my collection for specific recordings, but agree with many of your selections.I would add some Aaron Copeland, Stravinsky's Firebird Suite, and Gustav Holst's The Planets. I have about 3000 cd's with unfortunately only about 100 dedicated to classical.
I would also add:
Bach- Brandenburg concertos
Handel- Messiah
Debussy- String quartets. is a good resource for recomended recordings.
Just placed my order for Mozart Piano Concerto 20-25 on Decca. I lied. I do own Handel - Music for the Royal Fireworks, also on Decca. Here we go.
I am glad it is of help. that was one of my intentions. To help people starting. I looked for a similar piece on ifno at the time when I got engaged, but was not easy. Hopefully more people will post so there can be a diverse set of opinions. Mozart piano concertos are great. The disk I propose is an excellent performance and great value. Start with number 21. You have probably the most popular 5 there.

If you like a parrticular composer, chances are you will like more of him, and his era. Enjoy!
How do you even make a stab at the Top 5 masterpieces of all time?

I can recommend 5 works that I have listened to a lot over the years:

Composer: Mozart
Conductor: Rene Jacobs
Label: Harmonia Mundi (CD)

1 - Le Nozze de Figaro (Opera)
2 - Don Giovanni (Opera)

Composer: Various
Performer: Placido Domingo (Carlo Maria Giulini)
Label: Deutsche Grammophon (CD)
1 - Opera Gala (Opera)

Composer: Stravinsky
Label: Columbia (vinyl, 1964 release)
1- Le Sacru du Printemps (Symphonic)
Three Favorite Ballets: Stravinsky Conducts Firebird, Petruska, and the Right of Spring

Composer: Beethoven
Conductor: Fritz Reiner
Label: RCA Victor (CD)
1 - 7th Symphony (Symphonic)

I know saying the top 5 of all time is almost an impossible. That is not the point. It is to help people who wants to start, with 5 of the top masterpieces that you really like, or that made you engage or whatever. A place from which safely start. Brademburg concerto or Messiah could very well also be in my list. And others.

The second part of the question is intended to help expand collections. If I see someone posting 3 composers I like, chances are I will like the other 2 if I dont know them that well and may want to explore.

Keep them coming. Thanks
5 of the top masterpieces that you really like, or that made you engage ....
Here are six, in no particular order:

1)Dvorak, "New World Symphony," Jascha Horenstein conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Chesky CD31. Incredible sonics, great performance, great music. Recorded in 1962!

2)Chopin, "Piano Sonata in B Minor, Op. 58," Hyperion Knight, Piano; Wilson Audio WCD-9129. Perhaps the best sonics of any recording of solo piano in my experience; incredibly beautiful music; excellent performance. Out of print and very hard to find, though.

3)Brahms, "Symphony No. 1." My favorite symphony. Two recommendations:

-- For performance + sonics: Jascha Horenstein conducting the London Symphony Orchestra; Chesky CD19. Recorded in 1962.

-- For one of the greatest performances ever, IMO, in primitive but listenable sonics (transcribed from 78 rpm disks): Arturo Toscanini conducting the NBC Symphony Orchestra. Recorded in 1940. Can be downloaded or listened to here.

4)Beethoven, "Symphony No. 6" (The Pastorale), Bruno Walter conducting the Columbia Symphony Orchestra. Recorded in 1958. I have an imported remastered edition, Japanese CBS/Sony 20AC1811, which has nice sonics. Considered by many to be the definitive interpretation of this beautiful work.

5)Moussorgsky/Ravel, "Pictures at an Exhibition," Lorin Maazel conducting the Cleveland Orchestra, Telarc 10042. Wonderful!

6)Prokofiev, “Romeo and Juliet” (excerpts), Erich Leinsdorf conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Sheffield Lab 10043-2. Dry ambience, excessively bright string sound, but if your system does not tend towards brightness, and can handle ultra-wide dynamic range, you will find this to be an amazing recording of very engaging music.

Regarding question (C), I have about 600 classical recordings.

-- Al
Will try to find the Chopin piano sonata recording. Looks good!

I understand what you were trying to do with this post. Ive been lazy about getting myself into this because I get a little over the top with my research and classical really seems to me to be a never ending research project. I spent two solid years on tropicalia, samba and bossa Nova and my brain almost exploded. It got to the point that I was drilling down into performers lives. I had to eventually ask myself what importance it was to my enjoyment of Clube da Esquina that Milton Nascimento's mother passed away and he was raised by the family that employed her. I do look forward to this but I need to be cautious.

I remember in the late 80's I was staying at my parents house because they were traveling and it was a lot nicer than my apartment. I decided to play a Rachmaninoff album. I cant remember which one but all of a sudden I heard the mid 70's pop ballad "All By Myself ". My jaw hit the floor. I never would have imagined a pop artist would have written a song around classical music. That was the day I told myself I would someday get myself into classical.
Actually, what would be helpful for people looking to build/ expand a classical collection is a compilation of these responses. If for example 25 people respond, what were the composers/ works that were recommended and how many votes did each recommendation get.

Yes Rich that's right. That is why I was asking for 5 on each. I know a higher number would probably make more sense for some with more experience, but 5 is a short enough number, so it can easily be worked to look for the names that has the biggest coincidences. Also it forces people posting to be more selective. A combination of both can give a very nice list by name and frequency.

Donjr you are going to love it, i am sure. Watch out though. The live of many of these genius is quite impressive and lots of fun to dig into. Chances are the piece of Rachmaninov is among the 5 I named. Probably piano concerto 2 or 3 or symphony 2...
For anyone wanting to get into classical music, then I would start with the 'Building A Library' section of the BBC MUSIC magazine. Recommends the performances that all classical collections should include, and also, the magazine often gives a short history of the reviewed classical music and the composers, which really makes the music more enjoyable. As far as the OP's idea, I wouldn't know where to start. My favorites of any performance can change from day to day. depending upon mood. But I will eagerly await all the responses. Great Thread.
I assume these picks are for vinyl. When I am buying classical on CD, I need to research the record label, SPARS code and most importantly, what is the origin of the performance. ie: is it a Decca recording and after many changes in distribution deals, it is now for sale on some no-name label from Russia. Or is it poorly remastered?
I would love to have all my classical on LP, but it's hard to recommend a certain performance to a friend if it's on CD. BTW, I am hypercritical of the quality of classical on CDs.
Everyone can makentheir recomendations in their format of choice. Mine are actually all CDs, or hybrid SACDs that will play in both regulat CD players and SACD players.

The idea of recomending a recording along with the particular piece, and not only the piece is to help also with a good quality performance and recording, which is also critical. Formats aside, which everyone will have their own preference.
Eeli08 - With all due respect, recommending the Emerson Quartet doing the Death and the Maiden Quartet is just absurd. Not only is the performance below several other competitors and below the Emerson's own high standards, the DG engineering is pretty bad. It is not even a successful recording, let alone the best.
Hi Jult,

That acording to your opinion or taste which is diferent than mine. And that is not only fine but also normal. Which ones you like? Why dont you recommend your list? Hopefully I and others can take advantadge of it.

Regarding death and the maiden, I would need to check but probably I have something like 7 diferent performances/recordings. The ones that I also like include Alban Berg quartet, and specially Amadeus string quartet. This last is coupled with my favorite trout quintet performance that I recommended. A great disk but the sound quality is not great, still I enjoy it very much. Others I dont like that much, but being such a wonderfull masterpiece, I do find joy on all of them one way or another.

Regarding the recording of the Emerson string quartet doing death and the maiden, I very much disagree, and if you check critics and other aficionados opinions I am not the only one that would disagree. Not only the performance I find it second to none, with lots of energy and feeling, and the sound quality more than fine, but also the trio series in which it comes: It includes all Schubert late string quartets and the string quintet. All of them masterpieces and great performances that could perfectly be in my list of top 5s. that set of 3 CDs at 20 usd is one of the best value I have seen around.

However that is also the pourpose of this thread. if you agree with a particular piece being a top master one, but have a strong opinion on a different performance share and let us know. I am really interested in hearing.

But just saying one of my picks out of a list that it took me quite a long time to put together to help others is absurd, not sharing yours, does not add too much value, no?
08-20-12: Lowrider57
I assume these picks are for vinyl. When I am buying classical on CD, I need to research the record label, SPARS code and most importantly, what is the origin of the performance. ie: is it a Decca recording and after many changes in distribution deals, it is now for sale on some no-name label from Russia. Or is it poorly remastered?
I would love to have all my classical on LP, but it's hard to recommend a certain performance to a friend if it's on CD. BTW, I am hypercritical of the quality of classical on CDs.
I suspect that you would be pleasantly surprised if you heard the Chesky Dvorak or Wilson Audio Chopin recordings I listed, which I have on CD (note the "CD" in their catalog numbers). The other Chesky I listed is also a CD. The Wilson was also released as an LP, but is rarely found today in either format.

The others on my list I have on vinyl. The Sheffield I have in both formats, and while the original direct-to-disk LP is of course superior to the CD, the CD is still IMO a worthwhile alternative to the hard to find LP.

-- Al
RCA Living Stereo Soria Series LDS 2625. Milhaud, La Creation du Monde / Suite Provencale.  

Mercury Living Presence, Saint-Saëns: Symphony No. 3; Paray

Strauss: Ein Heldenleben; Wagner / Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Deutsche Grammophone

Malcolm Arnold: English & Irish Dances; Scottish & Cornish Dances; Sarabande & Polka CD - Import, on Lyrita

Von Karajan, Beethoven symphony no. 9, Berliner philharmonic, 1970s version
Eeli - Fair enough. I appreciate you starting the thread and respect your knowledge of the Death and the Maiden, but strongly disagree with that set being recommended - although the Quintet done live with Rostropovich is excellent, so we agree there. The recording that I recommend instead is the Petersen Quartet version of the Death and the Maiden - a very intense, often spooky interpretation with great sonics (on a small label, but readily available on amazon) on a whole other plane from the Emerson effort.
Thanks Jult. Did not know that one. May check it out. is that you on Amazon doing the review? Both reviews give 5 starts and are good and interesting ones.

Yes the string quintet in the Emerson's box set is superb isn't it? it would by itself only justify the 20 of the best I know if not the best,

and the 15th quartet there also is a masterpiece and greately performed in my opinion. Even the 13th which I think is somewhat the worst performance and sound of all thenset I like it very much. That is why I find that box set of 3 discs a great value and highly recommended.
Yes Almarg, there are many fine CD recordings...I just wish I had more classical on vinyl.
Here's my list for a newbie to start a classical collection:

- Tchaikovsky no. 4,5,6...Valery Gergiev/Vienna Philharmonic Orch., CD box set on Decca. Incredible sonics and performance.

- Beethoven Triple Concerto for Violin, Cello and Piano.
Itzhak Perlman/Yo-Yo Ma/Daniel Barenboim/BPO, 1995 EMI

- Beethoven Symphony No.3 Eroica, von Karajan / Berliner Philharmoniker, 1963 DG

- Mozart Piano Concertos, Vladimir Ashkenazy/Philarmonia Orchestra, #20 to 25 1970s on Decca.

- Schubert Symphony No.1, Harnoncourt/Royal Concertgebouw,
Warner Classics UK

My personal favorites...Bruckner/Gunter Wand, Schubert, Tokyo String Quartet, everything by Dvorak.

I just bought this weekend an EMI SACD of beethoven triple concerto I am looking forward to listen to as soon as I can. It is a very nice edition with another disc of Brahms double concerto and violin concerto. Aparently is a very good production or so I was told.

It is an older recording though than your recomendation, with rostropovich, richter and oistrakh. Not familiar with this one. hope is good.

Like your favorites. Not too familiar with Tokio String quartet.
You have a beautiful system, Eelii08. I'll bet the Esoteric sounds great. Any room treatments?
Thanks. The pics are quite oudated. Those were taken when we just moved in. The system has changed completely since then. And the room layout now is in diagonal. It is a dedicated room so I can play around placement within it.

Not a specific room treatment per se. I've tried some minor things myself and also some "esoteric" treatments of those you would not dare to tell anyone... Not surprisingly, that did nothing, for good or for bad. I placed a carpet between speakers and some stuff on the walls that did help. Overall sounds fine. Could sound better probably with specific treatment. May do it in the future, but do not want a dead silent room neither. I also have a plan to expand the room making it bigger. We will see.
In answering this post, I will provide five composers to start with - picking just five compositions is absurd. My recommendations would be to start with Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Mahler, and for something more modern, Stravinsky. Exploring multiple works by each composer is a must, to decide what type of music one likes best. If you like opera, then go on to Verdi, Wagner, Puccini. If you like symphonies, try Haydn, Brahms, Bruckner, Sibelius. If you like early music, try Monteverdi, Gesualdo. If you like chamber music, add Schubert. If you like modern music, Bartok, Hindemith, Ives. There are far too many great composers and genres and styles to limit the choice so much.

Though one very fun project I have done twice in the past, both times for music school projects, is to pick a "desert island" list of ten composers. You can have nothing but those ten, but you can have their complete works. I do not want to hijack your thread, though, so I won't say what the results were, just that they were remarkably consistent overall between the two times I did the survey, which had a minimum of 100 responses both times.
I mostly agree that picking 5 best compositions of all time is impossible. This is not intended to decide the best five. Again, It is intended to give a starting point to people who want to begin exploring but feel intimidated or do not know where to start. You will agree with me that not all the pieces of a master composer are equaly good or easy, if you want. Same with recordings or performances.

So by providing 5 of 5 diferent compositors people can listen to that, see what they like better and start exploring more pieces of that particular, or other compositors of same era and so on. i think is a good way to start from zero.

Also, it will be interesting to see what people's most voted absolute top 5 picks are on average, if only for the fun of it.

Lastly I hope I can also learn something myself and hopefully get good suggestions I am not familiar with. Some have already arised in recording/performance suggestions I was not aware of that I plan to explore myself. Also hope this helps others willing to expand as well.

So why dont you go ahead and give 5 recomendations of your list of 5? I would like to know and be interested in your picks on Stravinsky
A.- If you were to recommend a top 5 list of masterpieces of all time, to a person looking to get into classical music with no knowledge at all, which would be you recommendations?

In all fairness, this is how you started your own post. So, you shouldn't get so twisted when responders tell you that the request doesn't make sense. I get the point of what you are trying to do and I think that your second question gets you there. But boy, you presented a question in the style of questions that you find on the reading comprehension section of a standardized test.

No problem. You are probably right. As you said I think is clear what I'm trying to do, and I repeated a few times already to those saying it does not make sense.

Is clear that people with more experience, knowledge.. however you call it, although will find it more difficult to answer the question, specially first one, they are also the ones that can be of most help as well, precisely for that.

I tried to make the questions in a way that would provide specific answers. And would like to see those people with more experience answering just like you did. Say it is impossible, or hard, or not the top 5 of all time but excellent masterpieces... but give a list, to help others, with all the disclaimers you want to put on it.

Having said that, yes I also think I already repeated myself on that point too many times, so I will not do it anymore, I hope.
Hi Eelii08 - part of the reason I picked the first five composers I did is that with the exception of Mahler, they all wrote in an extremely wide variety of genres - Mozart in particular. He mastered every musical genre in existence. I guess my point is that what the layman calls "classical music" is much too broad a category to narrow recommendations to just five pieces. Many "classical music" lovers hate opera, for example. So I wouldn't recommend Wagner to them, then, despite the fact that he wrote some of the most beautiful music ever. Some only like chamber music - Mahler would not suit them, then. I think to offer recommendations on specific pieces, the field must be considerably narrowed. By exploring multiple pieces from the same few composers, a beginner can get an idea for what genres he or she would like to continue exploring, and then more specific recommendations can be made. And the five composers I chose are each quite different in style and sound, but representatives of pretty much every possible genre within "classical music" can be found, and they cover a span of almost 300 years, so the person could decide which eras they like by listening to works of these five.
message to Almarg...the Toscanini/Brahms Sym.1 is fantastic. Thank you for the link. I'm listening thru my PC wondering how this mpg download would sound on a good system.
This turned out to be a great thread. I'm going to further explore some of the available Toscanini/NBC Symphony.
Lowrider, glad you enjoyed it!

Some time ago I converted the mp3 download to a CD and played it on my main system. It was surprisingly listenable, and the sonics were certainly good enough to not detract significantly from the performance.

Best regards,
-- Al
Yes, it sounds fantastic. I am not too familiar with Brahms symphonies. Mostly concertos and chamber music. i am going to get his recomendation on CD.

Also Schubert symphony 1. Is it good? I very much like his latest ones but never listened much to the earlier ones. i do have a box set with all his symphonies I may revisit. Any recomendation besides 1.
This must be a case of high quality performance outweighing technical limitations. I have many 1960s performances, but have never ventured into the 40s or 50s.
When one considers who wrote this music (classical), and who is performing it, maybe it would be best just to say I liked this CD and let it go at that. Because I am not sure many of us have the knowledge / background to question or make a critical comment on, say, Karajan and the berliners, etc...... The technical quality of the recording of course, but anything after that would put most of us on very thin ice. 'IMHO' notwhithstanding.
Some interpretations are questionable from a technical perspective, experts say. You read all the time this or that conductor departed from the original, took too much liberty, did their own interpretation of certain passages, tempos and so on. Karajan and kleiber per instance come to my mind. Or also Anne.Sophie mutter in her adaptation of 4 seasons that I recommended in my list (which to me is the best 4 seasons by far. The only one that after more than 10 years I still revisit frequently despite many critics by purists).

Personally, I do not have the technical knowledge or skills to say if that is the case or not when comparing to the original. I can uderstand people with a deep technical knowledge, professionals and the like may have a strong view on that. And is fun to read and learn their sayings But after doing it, if it moves me that is what I care for. Someone said that different recordings or interpretations of same piece are good for different moments or moods. I agree. .
Al, I was reading a post about a diferent subject and saw comments made by you that seemed really knowledgable. i would like to ask you a few questions. Do you mind if I send you pa private mail?
Thanks, Eelii08. However at this time there is no provision in the A'gon system for private communications between members (although their blog posts have indicated that an on-site messaging system is forthcoming), and I'd prefer not to post my email address in a public thread.

Best regards,
-- Al
Ok I understand. Lets hope they start that mssging service soon.


5 top goto composers (for me):

1) Mozart
2) Beethoven
3) Bach
4) Tchaikovsky
5) Mahler

Nothing too shocking there, right?

Top 5 recommendations for a newbie:

1) any good compilation of Leroy Anderson tunes
2) Tchaikovsky Nutcracker Ballet
3) Beethoven Pastoral or Choral Symphony
4) Mozart Ein Klein Nachtmusik
5) Bach Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
6) Smetana "The Moldau" from Ma Vlast
For a single recording to hook most newbies, the soundtrack to the original Disney movie "Fantasia" is still perhaps the single best place to start.

Thanks Mapman. What 2 or 3 would you recomend of Mahler? I havent listen to it that much.

Donjr did you get your order in? How do you like it?
My favorite Mahler is Symphony #3 (#4 is probably second). My favorite performance is one I recorded off radio back in the 80's by the Oslo Philharmonic. This is a recording one locks oneself away with for a while to soak in and truly experience. That may not be available on CD, not sure, but performance by Bernstein and NY Philharmonic as well as others more readily availble are also quite good.

Mahler can be a tough listen at first. Often not for newbies but there is a lot to soak up and be affected by in his Symphonies over time. I am still in-process....

TO me, Leroy Anderson is the place to start for classical music. Mahler is at the other far end of the journey, which can be quite extensive.
Love Mahler, but I agree that it's not the composer to start with.
Eelii08, FYI, Bruckner was Mahler's teacher and mentor. If u like Bruckner, Mahler would be the next direction to go. However, each composer interprets Mahler very differently and the choice of favorite version has led to some very heated debates online. Mahler 1 and 3 are a good start. Mahler 6 is the "heavy metal" piece which I love.
Maybe I've said too much as I don't want to start debating Mahler performances on this thread.
Lowrider, re Mahler and Bruckner. Bruckner can be a tough choice for a beginner, or even a novice, great though it is. I'll flesh out your recommendation for an introduction, and an inexpensive one, in an outstanding performance, Guilini's Symphony #9 with the CSO on EMI. A great place to start. I think other Bruckner, especially before #7, and #8, require a bit of musical savy.

I also agree with your view of Mahler 6, one of my long time favorites is by Thomas Sanderling and the St Petersburg Orchestra - no one does the last movement better IMHO. But that would not be my recommendation for someone just wanting to explore Mahler.

Eelii08, I have not previously posted for all of the reasons expressed by Learsfool and maybe a couple more. :-)

How ever, FWIW, something to consider for your list for a beginner would be Sibelius' Symphony #2. No one ever went to hell recommending Vanska on BIS, Ashkenazy & LSO, Davis & BSO, Bergland & Helsinki on EMI (though I prefer his with the CSO). There are many others.......... This is the more romantic side of Sibelius. Folks with a leaning towards something a bit more modern might love the 5th as well. For someone more advanced, like yourself perhaps, #4 is IMHO his finest. Herbert VK's 4 on DG is as unromantic in mood as it gets, yet I think is one of the finest 4's.

I think a good Mahler performance to start off with, especially in this forum (audio oriented) would be Mahler's 1st Symphony performed by Zander on Telarc. This recording includes an excellent performance of Songs of a Wayfarer. The 1st is very assessible, the Songs are beautifulfy sung by Christopher Maltman, and combined they make a winning combo, my favorite (not for #1 alone however).

FWIW, I contributed to a couple of other threads some years ago regarding classical music for beginners. You will find them under the "Music Forum' during 2005 and 2009, or you might more easily track them down under my Music Forum threads. Lots of recommendations there you might utilize for your upcoming beginners guide.
Newbee, appreciate your comment and agree about Bruckner and Mahler for newcomers. I was directing my advice toward Eelii08... maybe I didn't make that clear.
The 3rd was my incarnation with Mahler.

I used to record 6 hour chunks of public radio to VHS Hifi back in the 80's.

One day, I fell asleep while listening to 1 such tape but something I was hearing woke me up mesmerized in some kind of half dreamlike state. It was the opening movement of that Oslo Philharmonic performance of the Mahler 3rd I had recorded off of WLRH in Huntsville, Ala. I lay there mesmorized for a good 90 minutes or so and when it was done felt a spiritual cleansing of sort had occured. This was my conditioning to make a goal to soak in as much Mahler as I possibly can handle in my lifetime. Mahler is not something I would listen to regularly though in the same way that I would limit my time riding a roller coaster.

Dvorak, Sibelius Shostokovitch and Stravinsky would probably be my personal 6-8 choices in my list of favorite go to composers. A lot of Dvorak and Sibelius is quite digestible for a newbie. Shostakovitch and other better known 20th century composers a bit tougher to digest often.
Thanks guys. I am not too familiar with Bruckner or Mahler. I will follow your recomendations and put it in my list of next listenings in order to expand. However, unless more people recommend them seems they would not make the cut for the short list of choices for starters, for what all of you say.

Newbee will take a look at your postings. Thanks.

Seems Sibelius is getting a lot of recomendations too. Can you give a list of 3 or 4 from him?

Shostakovitch I do like it but it is a bit hard at times. I very much like his piano trio. The live recording from DG with Argerich, Kremer and Maisky doing Tchaikovsky piano trio as well is just fantastic.
Re Sibelius, One of my favorite budget recommendations is a London 'Double Decker' compilation by Ashkenazy with the PO and Horst Stein and the L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande on EMI on 2CD's. It includes Finlandia, Karelia Suite, Luonotar, Tapiola, En saga, Night-Ride and Sunrise, Pohjole's Daughter, and Four Legends from the Kalevala. These are Sibelius' most popular tone poems and incidental music. Very highly recommended set for the novice. It should keep one happy for some time!

Then there is the Violin Concerto. An excellent piece, certainly in the 'great' category. I have a bunch of 'favorites' but for this recommendation I'd go with Kyung-Wha Chung and Previn with the LSO. I recommend this because it includes as a disc mate the very popular Violin Concerto by Tchaikovsky. And it's some fine fiddling as well.

I'll let others recommend the rest. :-)
A goof. The Sibelius compilation was on the London label, not EMI. My poor memory is failing. :-)