Generally speaking I sympathize with the Mahler critics around here. I don't enjoy most of his work, however, all my cynicism was shattered when I recently saw a performance of the 8th. This is surely the crowning achievement of romantic music. I love the fact that this piece does away with the pessimistic, individualist side of romanticism and focuses completely on the reverent/faustian aspect, the second movement is actually a setting of the last scene from Goethe's Faust. Also this holds together compositionally much better than most Mahler, the themes are integrated so coherently that it is reminiscent of Beethoven, in fact this seems to me to be the logical successor to Beethoven's 9th.
Although, due to my own philosophical views, I still hold some reservations about this piece, it conforms almost exactly to what most people on this forum seem to think music should be.audiofile section