Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 is hesitantly set in motion by a solo trumpet. Out of a fate motif recalling that other legendary Fifth Symphony (Beethoven’s), an epic emotional journey along high peaks and deep valleys unfolds. The work’s beating heart is the fourth movement, of which Willem Mengelberg wrote, ‘This Adagietto was Mahler’s declaration of love to Alma. Instead of a letter, he sent her this manuscript without further explanation. She understood him and wrote back, “Come!” (Both of them told me this story!).’ The Adagietto has since taken on a life of its own, thanks in part to the 1971 film Death in Venice.
Mozart, too, wrote works whose slow movements in particular were sometimes exceedingly popular. Following the premiere of his Piano Concerto No. 22, the audience called for a repeat performance of the Andante, an occurrence which Mozart’s father Leopold found ‘most unusual’. The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is performing this concerto with soloist Emanuel Ax, one of the most eminent Mozart interpreters of our time.