The grace and delicacy of the second movement seem Worlds Apart from the terrifying power and tragic character of the first monitor noted in the score, that a pause of at least five minutes be taken between the two movements so that the extreme contrast and mood would not come upon the listener too abruptly, you refer to the second movement in his programs as an Intermezzo, but later considered as more of a discrepancy than a diversion.
The tragic tortured character in the first movement now gives way to idyllic and troubled music in the second, yet in the midst of this peaceful music, as Derek cook points out, the angry atmosphere of the first movement intrudes in the second trio. The movement opens without an introduction to a graceful Austrian Alpine landler for springs, its lilting principal theme lightly scored and articulated with staccato and pizzicato strings has schubertian quality, here Mahler evokes the atmosphere of an earlier era when Viennese classicism was in its glory, a contrasting lyrical string theme follows, ending in a perfect cadence.
The first alternating section, the B section follows without a change in tempo, woven in a contrapuntal fabric of cross-rhythms, a new theme, beginning on a rising fourth interval that links several themes in the symphony, and related to material from the first movement the second theme enters in the first flute and ends on the first clarinet. This theme is modal Middle Eastern cast also relates it to the principal thematic material of the next movement, strings continue to weave a web of 16th note triplets, in contrary motion and then in sequences of ascending chromatics, a sense of perpetual motion generated by these churning triplets contrasts with the relatively static harmony, woodwinds enter with a song like a variant of the resections theme, over the triplet figuration that continues and strings note that the opening interval of this theme is a rising fourth, taken from the second full measure of the opening sections landler theme.
The B section concludes on the triplet figuration, which gradually breaks up into fragments, a typically malaria and device, soon all that remains are isolated notes played softly in the violins on the third beat of three successive measures, the last of which is given sudden emphasis, after which the sound gradually diminishes, leading to the return of the A section.
This passage ushers in the return of the opening section in which the lender is further developed.
As the first violins play the main theme, cellos simultaneously play a lyrical counter theme, that sounds like a variation of the Christmas carol that came upon a midnight clear although the A section ends with the same cadence as before, instead of making a simple transition to the return of the B section as earlier, Mahler now makes a radical and abrupt shift in mood tempo and dynamic level. Suddenly, the triplets of the B section are pounded out with brutal force horns assert the section’s rising theme demonstrably against agitated triplet figuration. This theme is reconstituted, so as to end with the motive of whoa the following minor second, repeated for emphasis, waves of string triplets ebb and flow as if to draw out the principal theme.
A presentment of tragic fate takes hold, as the full orchestra expands upon this demonic transformation of what had been wistful music when played earlier. In this guy’s it recalls the terrible images conjured up in the first movement then suddenly, on the crest of a huge wave of string triplets, the music stops for breath, after which the rolling triplets recommends quietly, no longer sounding as ferocious as they had moments before a major key variant of the B section themes opening notes in the brass give it a Semitic quality for shadowing the next movement, after further thematic variations, the theme is propelled forcibly into a closing section. strained with nervous energy, the triplet figuration gradually decomposes into little isolated fragments played off the beat.
Now the opening section returns as before, this time, the strings playing the theme and its accompaniment in pizzicato echoed occasionally by harp, flute, and Piccolo in staccato.
The second part of the A section returns in a lovely variation of the midnight clear theme and violins against playful woodwinds on the main theme, perfectly complementing the midnight clear counter theme more ads a brief coda that begins after blissfully serene cadence, on an ascending scale and violins softly and gently alternating woodwinds and strings play snippets of the lender theme as if in a reverie, this brief recollection of the landler gives way to a lovely ascending harp arpeggio that ends on an A flat major glissando, which seems to linger on, suspended in the stillness that follows.
The movement closes softly and delicately onto pizzicato chords, making a perfect cadence.
By Lew Smoley