THE Adagietto from Mahler's Symphony No 5 is undoubtedly one of the most heartachingly beautiful pieces of orchestral music ever written.
In the hands of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester and the young Swiss-born conductor Philippe Jordan, it was simply ravishing.
Wind and brass sat stock-still to listen to their string-playing colleagues realise every tiny detail and nuance of what has become Mahler's most-famous score through its starring role in Visconti's Death in Venice.
Regular and eagerly-anticipated visitors to the Festival, the huge Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester is an extraordinary phenomenon.
Yes, a youth orchestra, with the powerhouse of vitality that young players give so generously to music, but, drawing from all over Europe, their sophisticated assurance is matchless.
Light flitted easily through Mahler's darker colours, with the impending urgency of the central scherzo pulling every listener into its rhythmic themes.
At well over an hour in length, the Fifth Symphony requires deep reserves of stamina, especially following on from a tough first half of Webern and Berg.
Jordan, although meticulously precise and controlled, allowed the latter's Seven Early Songs their natural flow, with mezzo Susan Graham the ideal interpreter of their serene and, at times, mysterious romance.