Let's go to the point:this one and Abbado 's 1999 Berlin concerto(released in 2002),are both must have,for the very unique quality they own.Actually, i consider them a complemented-relationed set.
Boulez's version is the perfect 'sounding score' (or call it 'score text book')you can ever find in the market.I can hear you laughing, but do you think it's easy to do a recording to make you feel : yes, the tempi is just right, the structure just clear, phrasing just natural,the dynamic-range,logic-accent,the expression,all the details,inner-voices etc..shortly: evey thing is just right in this recording.(VERY probaly: in every recording of Boulez's Mahler cycle)Let the music do the talking, when every thing is rightly in its place, the music of Mahler will shine by itself. Boulez seemas totally unforced,and he is truelly a Maestro.
weakness: the playing is not that good. Don't take me wrong, the playing is very fine,proffesional, and you can hear all those half-million valued instruments thanks to cristal clean 4D recording.
After learning the sounding score of this symphony,you may want to experience it in live. Just try Abbado's last one. The choice of tempi in first movement is little fast,it could even sound a little 'confused',don't worry,you will eventually find out that Abbado's choice is more than reasonable,(i mean: compare to the Boulez's to find out what should be the 'correct structrue',how the climatix should be distributed in sections, etc.) very suitble for Berliners' playing.oh,the Berliner's playing,is, more than beyond beautiful,more than breathtaking...(now you know why i cant enjoy the Chicago's playing) I own 400 classical recordings, no one comes nearly close to this one.
So, buy this one for the natural power of the muisc from Mahler,and later go to Abbado for what the power of the music could be transformed to power of playing.