Last night I went to the symphony after writing several versions of my symphony card to you. You asked what I hear when I listen.
I zero in on the bass line for at least two reasons. First I play cello so I identify with that line, secondly, the bass line is extremely important to the piece, it is the harmonic structure (more on that later). I listen to the bass line and listen to the other lines in relation to it.
It is very easy to become academic and lose the beauty of the music or it is easy to space out and listen non-actively. Last night I listened more actively than I had in a while and it was a *great* experience. I'm glad you asked your question.