Listening Guide – Movement 2: Tempo di minuetto. Sehr massig


Mahler asks for a pause between the first and second movements, as he had done between the first two movements of the Second Symphony. He realized the need for an interval of silence to enable the listener to come down from the monumental heights of the enormous first movement, before descending to the valleys and meadows envision to the second, having succeeded in stalling the anti-life forces from preventing the awakening of lights creative energy, Mahler will explore the next stage in the progressive development of the life force, the flowers in the meadow, to wich is later discarded title for the movement indicates, flowers are representative of nature’s beauty and innocence. Far from the battlefield of the first movement, Mahler begins part two, with a movement in which he conjures up a world of delicacy, ease, and grace. The charming first theme contrasts strikingly with the stark terror and joyful exuberance of part one. Mahler organizes this romantic fantasy on nature’s simplest, yet most beautiful life form, in classical minuet and trio and decorates his melodies with local co-like ornamentation. The opening minuet provides the principal thematic material and his contrast with a trio section composed of increasingly agitated bohemian dance music.
Neville Cardus remarks that the heightened tension of the trio might imply that the beauty of the flowers may be somewhat artificial. He sees the trio as imposing a negative element upon the otherwise untroubled world of nature expressed in the minuet section, minor keys and truehd, adding a touch of melancholy that taints the otherwise idyllic atmosphere, suggesting that negative forces from part one still linger in the shadows. Their momentary appearance in each of the movement’s support either by direct motivic reference or by shades of minor tonalities make their continued existence of a threat to the development of the life force, only in the finale, will they be rendered completely harmless, persistent use of clip dotted rhythms and triplet figuration so prominent in the first movements Pan march suggests that all of life is imbued with the same quintessential elements. Each stage in the progressive development of the life force must confront its antithesis, but it carries within itself natural protection that shields it from destruction. Unlike the corresponding movement in the Second Symphony, the second movement has a definite place within the symphonies overall conceptual frame of reference, yet Cardus considers the relaxed mood of the second movement as providing but a respite from the tensions of the main argument presented in the first movement, just as the Second Symphony is the second movement does with respect to its first movement, structurally symmetrical, the second movement proceeds in an orderly fashion, smoothing over the contrast between each of its sections by Mahler’s use of one of his favorite devices, the telescoping technique. By this technique, Mahler’s seamlessly connects the alternating sections, despite their contrast in mood and rhythm. Each section contains a few episodes that diversify the thematic substance. Themes returned in the same order as initially presented, but in different instrumentation, and with different one mentation, creating fascinating melones of musical textures, patterns, and colors.
The movement opens with a charming little bouncy tune for oboe, accompanied by pizzicato strings. This lilting melody has a distinctively heightened ness quality, dotted rhythms not only give the theme of bohemian flavor but connected to the first movement, where they predominate during the Pan march and idyllic atmosphere puts the listener completely at ease.

Strings of triplets float in the summery atmosphere, gently caressing the delicate flowers, countervailing rhythms develop into a subsidiary theme and first violins and combine readily with the clip dotted rhythms of the opening theme, the interplay between woodwinds and strings on elements of the subsidiary theme generates a variety of tone colors, it suggests a floral scene.

Brief ventures into different passing keys lead the tonality back to the tonic, Mahler then telescope’s the two themes by bringing in the principal theme and the cellos at the same time that the second theme winds down in the violins. The music proceeds to a full cadence with which the first a section ends. The B section begins after the first subject is concluded, much livelier than the A section although marked in the same tempo, the B section changes from three-quarter time to 3/8 time, generating the effect of moving into double time. It begins with a flickering to-beat rhythm before the change of meter, like a brief vamp that introduces the new rhythm. We’ll start the next excerpt from the last part of the A section to show how it leads to the B section without any transition.

Neatly subdivided into three episodes that seem progressively faster because of the increasingly agitated rhythms, the B section has a much livelier character and its predecessor, decorated with flippin grace noted eighths on the first beat of each measure, and repeating triplets.

The theme of the first episode, which we just heard, played by a flute and violas seems already somewhat jittery, a combination of repeating triplets in wide intervals, and scurrying eighth note figures produces nervous energy as if something had disturbed the tranquility of the opening scene. The melody of this episode is a direct quote from a segment of the first theme of the second Symphony is scared so movement and has thematic connections with both the second movement of that Symphony and the Wunderhorn song lobe this whole English donders 63rd figuration swirls around the theme, producing some instability, with a hemu laic conjunction of four and five beats to the bar, after a mere 20 measures, the first episode ends without reaching a conclusion, instead of going directly into the second, changing from triple to duple meter.

The second episode starts immediately with its own theme, as did the first episode, this time violins join with flutes, as with the earlier themes, dotted rhythms, and 16th note figuration in life in the episode with a dance-like character, yet one also has the impression that the themes of these episodes are derived from the A section, although the pace is still brisk, the music is played softly, except for a couple of sharp strokes that further disturb the pastoral atmosphere. This episode flies by more quickly than the first in a mere nine measures and runs right into the third episode again without any cadence or transition, even greater urgency and tension prevail in this next episode.
The last of the resections three episodes is totally chilly, it starts with a jolt on a lashing stroke that immediately leads to a variation of the proceeding episodes theme set against repeating eighth note triplets. ç
The variation is formed by 16th note triplets figuration that whizzes by in the woodwinds, that same figuration will reappear in the finale of The next Symphony.

What began in the first episode has a light scampering frolic, as by now turned into a serious disturbance, it is as if the little creature has run wildly for cover, as in the proceeding variation, it is the change of meter here to nine eight and not a change in tempo that causes the sensation of increased speed. The music seems to move like the wind, descending chromatics and the woodwinds theme connotes the intrusion of a negative element within before measures another stroke, even more powerful than the previous one brings in the second thematic variation of this episode.

After pressing forward on a third variation, in which arching 16th note runs become unnerved by swells accented wolf the beat at their high points, the thematic variant that began the second episode suddenly returns, causing the music to ease up gently when the bigger of the string figuration finally ebbs, changing from even sixteenths to dotted rhythms in descending chromatics that generates a feeling of winding down. Here Mahler employs the telescoping technique to bring back the A section’s first theme in the cellos ever so gently as the B section draws to a close. When the ad section properly returns, its main themes already in progress, having begun during the close of the D section, how seamlessly and yet unexpectedly, we drift back to the flowers, serene, dreamlike world with which the movement began, here in a capsulized version of the A sections reprise, the subsidiary theme seems to have lost some of its freshness, after having been subjected to the driving intensity of the B section, violins seem to yawn and stretch languidly on a gorgeous variation of the subsidiary theme played an octave. After further development of the subsidiary theme, VA section, the D section returns with the same brief rhythmic preparations before and in the same order of episodes.

In the first episode, The theme is given to oboes and clarinets, instead of a solo flute Viola.
The second episode is expanded to include an extension of its theme, marked Full Moon for swinging and played by woodwinds. It is enlivened by vivacious string figuration. dotted rhythmic figures on the solo trumpet look forward to the scared soul of the Fifth Symphony, while their faster repetition recalls a tattoo like figure from the first movement.
A violin theme anticipates a passage from the third movement of the Fourth Symphony, the tonality alternates between a major and G sharp minor.

Diverse rhythms are bound in delightful interplay, they wander into the third episode as before, but this time the music stays in duple meter, only to shift back and forth between duple and triple meter until finally settling on the former.
Once again the rapid staccato theme flickers about hurriedly yet without actually changing tempo. The third episode has also extended to nearly twice its previous length, this time it shifts gears abruptly going back to the A sections the main theme in one of Mahler’s most ingenious examples of telescoping. The upbeat to that theme enters and violas underneath the last beat of the second episodes theme, at which point the ladder suddenly disappears, and the opening theme of the movement continues in its relaxed and carefree manner, as naturally as if it had been unaware of having been interrupted by the unnerving excitement of the B section.

At this point he major is firmly established, if not for very long after the first fruit and violas present the first part of the A sections principal theme. First violins play a decorative variant of its second segment with automatic elements from the second episode of the B section, and an accelerated measure of 16th notes that has a kind of Chopinesque and profit Satori quality. The first flute then takes up the A section subsidiary melody in C sharp minor, and is accompanied by ornamental figures in the solo violin. Soon the music loses energy, becoming limp on click dotted rhythms, the orchestra pairs down to a small ensemble, but there is but a momentary law, for immediately the flowers again blossom forth with resplendent beauty in a gorgeous variation of the principal theme, played by lavish strings, and marked sharonville.
Once again, rich and ornamentation, this is one of the most beautiful thematic variations in all of Mahler’s music, here the tonic key a major is re established and continues to the end of the movement. A trumpet plays a variation of the arching motive of longing, the trumpet also plays reminiscences of the discarded Romina Movement from the first Symphony, as in a static reverie, the last such reference provides the cadence that closes this section and leads into the code. Once more, the relaxed tempo in which the movement began returns on the triplet figures of the A section subsidiary theme, delicately interspersed among the strings, as before this gently swaying music eases up as the triplets wind down on a descending chromatic passage that evokes an image of the flowers growing sleepy from the day’s activities, it is as if the daylight is fading, and the glow of a soft summer’s Eve cast to spell over the scene. Strings capture the floral perfume that permeates the warm evening air, with their captivating variation of the subsidiary themes triplet figure, it rises softly in violin.

Although these final measures contain some of the most sumptuous the beautiful music Mahler ever wrote, he instructs that they should be played without the slightest hesitation, to the very end, probably fearing that conductors might spoil the simple beauty of the final measures with excessive affectation. Mahler well knew that excessive mannerisms can undermine the effect of an exquisite expression of lyrical beauty.

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