Now we turn to the Fifth Symphony, which is maybe his most popular, and arguably his most heroic, work. What I mean by heroic is that it takes us from the 'Sturm und Drang' of the first two movements on an incredible journey to the last movement, which is one of the most jubilant, life-affirming finales in all the repertoire. It's also heroic in the sense that it has some of his most virtuosic writing for the various instruments of the orchestra. Mahler himself was very aware of this, and he said regarding the Fifth, "The individual parts are so difficult that they require players of solo ability. With my thorough knowledge of the orchestra and instruments I couldn't help including some very daring passages and figures."
As I'm writing this, my wife Lulu (who's in the First Violin section) is practicing the Scherzo, and I have to agree, that's a wicked violin part! We basses have our work cut out for us, too. But that's nothing compared to the First Trumpet and French Horn, who have massive solos to contend with.
It's always a great challenge to bring Mahler's Fifth to life. We'll be giving it our all in Warwick on Wednesday, and at the Royal Festival Hall on Thursday night... hope to see you there!