Harmonielehre, by John Adams
Listening to this music makes me feel like I did when I was a teenager and discovered Tchaikovsky's concertos and Beethoven's symphonies. It is full of dramatic adventures and makes me think of towers rising in the sky, lurching sea monsters, lake mist, new cities coming over the horizon like the dawn, and the sounds of bells. There is nothing comparable to its filmic, expansive narrative. The music surprises you and challenges your expectations at every turn. Who anticipates the second movement?
The whole thing stretches out like the heroic myth and legends of voyaging. The first movement is music to dance to at times, if not to imagine vast landscapes of magical powers, strange beasts and the unknown. There are lyrical passages that compete with the Pathetique. The second is a sort-of dream, a poetic, spiritual suspense. In this movement we are lost in caves, traversing underworlds, trapped in sound. The third is a journey, a race, a new skyline, a triumph, a resolve.
Or, in John Adams' words, 'It is a large, three-movement work for orchestra that marries the developmental techniques of Minimalism with the harmonic and expressive world of fin de siècle late Romanticism.' His notes are well worth reading.
If you don't know it, I recommend you begin listening now to give yourself enough time to revisit it later on, again and again and again. You won't want to die without being on detailed and intimate terms with the whole thing.