Mahler's 5th Symphony is one of his most famous works: the 4th movement, Adagietto, became super popular as the soundtrack of Visconti's Death in Venice, and the whole piece has an epic, cinematic quality. The piece was written in 1901, and first performed in 1904.

We put the CD on our iPod and took it with us for a test drive for a week. Actually, we quickly forgot about the iPod: this symphony is a study in contrast, and with a noisy background, you miss out on the delicate textures of the softer tracks. You pump up the volume only to be scarred by the next fortissimo. Yet, riding our bicycle at twilight on the embarcadero to the Adagietto, you see the city in quite a moody light. Where is our beaked mask?