Mahler Symphony No 5

London Symphony Orchestra/Sir Simon Rattle

Photo of Sir Simon Rattle conducting

Britten’s warning about the cost of war is heard alongside Mahler’s large-scale journey from tragedy to triumph – the Fifth Symphony

Written shortly after the outbreak of World War II, the Sinfonia da Requiem meditates in part on the political populism which had, for the second time in just a few decades, plunged the world in to an existential crisis. In this piece, Britten’s rich, yearning harmonies reveal a sombre and dramatic warning of the cost of conflict.

Mahler's Symphony No 5 features one of Mahler’s best-known and best-loved passages: the Fourth-Movement Adagietto said to be a love song to his wife, Alma. Despite the sentimental moment, there’s no shortage of drama in this work, which contrasts a dark and murky opening with a vast exultant finale for full orchestra, and the ecstatic riot of counterpoint that ensues in the work’s final pages.

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