Rafael Kubelík, son of the internationally celebrated violinist Jan Kubelík, was a tall, charismatic introvert. As a conductor, he was no tyrannical disciplinarian like Fritz Reiner (who succeeded him in Chicago), nor an orchestra builder like Stokowski. He responded to the musicians in front of him as much as they did to him. The upshot is that his performances lacked the strictly controlled consistency of Reiner and others, but unlike them he could take wing under auspicious conditions.

Rafael Kubelík Rafael Kubelík in 1949. Photo © Universal Music Australia

He was at his best (on record at least) with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, with which he made many recordings for Deutsche Grammophon including his complete set of Mahler’s symphonies. An Australian connection comes in the form of his Ballarat-born second wife, the soprano Elsie Morison: her final recording was the solo in Mahler’s Symphony No 4, which she sang (very sensitively) on his DG disc.

With Kubelík’s best work preserved on DG, these new boxes are by their nature ‘extras’, but both have their pluses. The conductor was...