Finally, a conductor who gets it all! Essentially I am in agreement with the views of the other two reviewer. This is a fine recording of two Horenstein live concerts featuring composers he was best known for: Mahler and Nielsen. The respective orchestras seemingly play their hearts out, and though neither's playing is note-perfect or as polished as some would prefer to hear - these after all are live performances and Horenstein as usual demands of them what could scarcely be achieved from a normal set of rehearsals - the heart and drama of the music are fully realized.
At the time of release of Sir John Barbirolli's recording of the Mahler Sixth, he reportedly said something to the effect that in Mahler's symphonies "there are many high points but only one true climax." His reading was exemplary in this regard, and so is Horenstein's. Both attain their climax in the last movement where a succession of dramatic peak moments culminates just prior to the third hammer blow, when a final heroic (and tragic) abandonment of self is abruptly and finally hacked down by a last intervention of fate, thereafter leaving hopes and desires to languish and wither. The final tattoo sounded by percussion and brass brings the march rhythm of the opening bars of the symphony to its conclusion, fading to the dead silence from whence it came.
Of the many interpretations of this symphony over the years, only Barbirolli's and even more so Horenstein's rightly get the undying, unrelenting tread of the march figure that underpins and supports drama enfolding across the entire span of the work. It is possible both to hear and feel the pulse throughout, actually and implicitly. No matter how many gorgeous details and theatrical turns a conductor might illuminate along the way, if the pulse is forgotten and missing too often or to too great a degree by pausing to more fully take in the view at any moment, the very structure and stature of performances weakens and diminishes. To be crude but truthful, 'it's the march, stupid.' If you don't get it, you lose it.
There is so much more to be said than can possibly be told in one person's review, I do not pretend to be an expert in Mahler or conducting or interpretation. I've had many years experience listening critically to many performances and points of view. Many are as valid and satisfying as this one in one or other respects. Thank goodness we have so many available to choose from among. Barbirolli's and Horenstein's, on the other hand, do us the great favor of revealing the full stature of this symphony, which towers even among the most famous and highly regarded symphonies in the Mahler canon. Here the composer first shows his full hand rhythmically, thematically, and harmonically in the clear terms he will resort to only once again in his Ninth Symphony. It's all here for us to listen and ponder, thanks most to Barbirolli and Horenstein with the Bournemouth Symphony and New Philharmonia. If you treasure Mahler's Sixth Symphony, by all means add these recordings to your collection. My highest possible recommendations.