Day 4, Movement 4 of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. Listen on Spotify.
In my humble opinion, this movement is one of the top five most beautiful things ever written. Thick with romance, It was written as a love letter from Mahler to his wife, Alma. While wrought with passion, there is a rare tenderness and vulnerability to this movement. It is also a rare example of when the climax is in fact the softest moment (6:25), not the loud, bombastic chord at the end of a drawn out crescendo we hear so often.
My college orchestra conductor described the opening perfectly. The violas have the nearly inaudible first note, and he explained, “You must play as if this note has been going on for eternity, and we’ve merely just opened the door to discover it.” From there on out you hear a tormented, complex man bare his soul completely. And it’s beautiful.