There is a transcendence. It isn’t enough to simply have difficulties with life itself – one has to be able to convey this in music too! A Mahler symphony is about more than emotion, it is also about structure. In a long movement such as, for example, the last movement of the Sixth Symphony, it is certainly not enough to say “I can feel the emotion”. Mahler worked extremely hard and made an enormous effort to transcribe and organise his ideas and to render them effective. Anyone who performs the work with feeling alone is creating a lie about Mahler.
It is very difficult to achieve a balance between feeling and structure, but emotion without structure produces no security and, when you listen to a long movement such as this (the Finale of the 6th Symphony- ed.), one needs to sense the structure too. I am not suggesting that one needs to analyse the work, since not everyone is capable of taking an analytical approach, but one needs to find this balance, which is very hard to do.
I find Boulez to be one of the most thoughtul and open-minded musicians alive today, not at all the inflexible modernist tyrant some would have you think he is.