The journey from death to life lies at the heart of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, extremes of joy and pain contrastingly expressed more fully than ever before. From the opening funeral march the music gradually lightens, progressing through a gigantic waltz fantasy and intensely lyrical adagietto before reaching the exuberant rondo finale. Its background is intimately tied to Mahler’s courtship of Alma Maria Schindler. He was smitten, and the love affair developed rapidly – barely four months later she was already pregnant when they married. Mahler proposed to Alma by sending her the adagietto, a love song to his bride, and the entire symphony is at least in part inspired by the passion she brought forth in him.
Never satisfied with merely rearranging traditional folksong, Turkmenistan composer Chary Nurymov was a master in using complex musical form to nevertheless evoke the spirit of his homeland. His highly charged single-movement mini symphony could almost be a film score to some epic battle. It opens with a mystical uncertainty, constantly building with foreboding intensity, before fading back into a peaceful slumber.