Listening Guide – Movement 3: Comodo. Scherzando. Ohne Hast


Taken together, the second and third movements are Mahler’s most fascinating symphonic representations of nature. They come close to descriptive, even cinematic tone painting. In the third movement, Mahler is especially creative, and his use of musical totals to replicate animal sounds such as cuckoo calls a Nightingale’s song, and the brain of a donkey, bird song had already become an integral part of Mahler’s earlier symphonies in song. Yet he does not merely romanticize his subject here, nor does he portray the animals as gentle creatures engaged in idyllic frolic, there is a gruff brutish side to their nature that is represented in passages both Walker’s and roughhewn those still innocent of malicious intent. Constantine Floros sees parody and sarcasm here, as if he says, “all of nature we’re making faces and sticking out its tongue“, and an undercurrent of nervous agitation in the animals into play, infuses the music with disquieting animation that mirrors the vigorous stirrings of the second movements B section. When the woodland creatures tire their frolicking and roughhousing, they settled down to an afternoon nap to the strains of a hunting horn, heard from a distance, far enough away not to appear threatening. The use of the antiquated post horn for these passages is an unusual touch, it evokes not only a far-off call to the hunt, but implies a nostalgic yearning for the past idealized as more natural and earthy than the present. Placing the post-torn-off stage to effect a sense of distance is another example of Mahler’s utilization of acoustical space to achieve his dramatic intentions, you already use this technique in the finale of the second symphonies call in the wilderness, and they’re grosser appellee and the wedding festival from part three of this club in the lead. What is also unusual is the character of the post-torn passage itself, while it begins with typical triplet tattoos, they are not played with the stentorian assertiveness expected from hunting calls, rather, they’re sounded softly and tenderly, as a pastoral lullaby.
Three episodes focus on the post horn, It’s a soothing melody lulls us into a nostalgic dream world, like the serenity of an open meadow, bathed in sunlight. The post-torn joins to french horns in a captivating trio, a burst of trumpet tattoos, interrupts, shaking us out of our reveries and blistering the music that follows with frisky animation. After the close of the third episode, the animals become more agitated, as if instinctively they sense the approach of the antagonist. For emerging out of a whirlwind of harp, arpeggios, that leads into an orchestral outburst comes man, the hunter, the music here creates the image of a human being, who steps into the midst of the forest, and looks about in search of prey, one side of this enormous creature and the little animals scattered at first uncertainly, and then with increasing speed as if they run for their lives. When in full gallop, the movement and while the movement that follows represents man, the next stage in the development of life, here is depicted as nature’s full of flashback to the life-negating forces of the first movement, although mankind is certainly an advance over the animals, is pervasive brutality is a reversion to anti life characteristics, this disturbing anomaly is subtly reflected in the dualism of whoa and lust engaged in Nietzsche has text used in the fourth movement.
Some commentators suggest that the chilling orchestral outbursts toward the close of the Movement represent not man, but the great god Pan featured in the first movement, here he comes to survey his domain. Mahler made reference to both interpretations in his various comments on the movement. It is not surprising that both the second and third movements have strong connections with the world of the Wunderhorn songs, which take a naturalistic approach to wildlife, while often parodying the animal’s knave tag. While in the second movement, that relationship is mostly implicit in the third it is explicit, for its main theme is virtually lifted from that of the song Ablösung im Sommer, relief in summer, one of the Wunderhorn songs this allegorical song tells of the death of a cuckoo and its replacement by a nightingale as the source of a summer evenings entertainment. The somewhat irreverently ironic feeling of sorrow for the cuckoo’s demise that characterizes the songs vocal line has no place in the animal’s movement. Therefore Mahler does not quote that part of the song in this movement, but simplifies it, and thereby better adapts it to the nature and form of a symphonic movement.
The thematic material of the A section is composed principally of four modes first and upward fifth, replicating the Cuckoo’s call that then falls by fourth.

The second is a cheery phrase consisting of 2/8 note couplets, separated by a hint of the devil’s dance motive in a deck Tillich figure with its long note trilled.

Third, a rhythmic figure that contains a leap of an octave, followed by a fallen fourth, imitating the whistling song of a nightingale, that derives from the ablution in summer melody, and fourth, a soothing sequence of eighth note couplets that hint at the motive of childlike innocence.

These motives are the raw material from which Mahler fashions most of the movements principle melodies, a long sequence of 16th note figuration bears a resemblance to the skirts or movement of the Second Symphony, but the atmosphere there was much more sinister and scathingly parodic.
Both of these skirts also referred to other movements within their respective symphonies. The skirts of the second looking ahead to its finale, the skirts of the third, momentarily recalling the dark terrors of the first movement.
Beginning with a two-bar introduction, a light bouncy rhythm played in pizzicato strings. The third movement starts with the music from the blues and the song. The various motivic phrases referred to earlier, as well as others that served of backgrounds of the vocal line of the song are now raised to prominence as the section’s principal thematic material. they are developed in endless variations using their respective components in a fascinating assortment of harmonic and rhythmic reconfigurations.

Here’s the opening of losing in summer for comparison.

The mood is generally relaxed and lighthearted, but shades of minor tonalities create a slight sense of apprehension. A second theme, actually a variant of the fourth motif referred to earlier is softly played by the oboe as the key shifts to C major. Immediately after the introduction of the second theme, the clarinet offers a variation of the oboe theme. Decorative string figures imitate the Nightingale’s song.

Soon the minor tonality returns as the oboe again sings its lilting tune, now more plaintive than before the 16th note string figuration that first ushered in the oboe theme is transferred to woodwinds as the music becomes more demonstrative on a striding bass rhythm. The donkeys go for like braying, rudely intrudes. It consists of a two-node figure that leaps down by a super octave played here by violins, quickly it gives way to pompous triplets scattered around the orchestra that lead into the next segment.

The two four-meter that dominated the movement to this point is replaced by six-eight, but without a change in tempo, C major returns for the final episode of the A section. In heavily accented tones, the strings boisterously pronounce a rather gruff variation of the 16th note spring figuration that accompanies the oboe theme, now introduced by a falling figure on 3/8 notes that goes against the grain.

Mahler delights in parodying his rugged, rough-hewn forest animals, with music criticized in his day as vulgar and crude, after a brief trumpet call intrudes, hinting that the hunter man may not be far off. Escaping triplet rhythm and flute trills lighten the mood in a more easygoing variation of this episode the Matic variant, each succeeding variation of this melodic material is built upon the preceding one. In a brilliantly conceived and creatively structured developing a bassoon passage lifted from the lobe despoil, understand this song, as a variant of the donkeys brain motive leads to the B section.
Flutes reprise the song theme to begin the B section over delicate 16th note figuration and violins, then flutes and oboes play a C minor variation of the song theme that seems to anticipate a possible disturbance.

Few have noticed that the model reconfigures the fourth motive, referred to earlier into a familiar motifik figure from Wagner’s Ring Cycle that represents a mythical dennison of the forest, the dragon, its presence is hinted here, softly and trombones and tuba under the clarinets continuation of the song theme.

Suddenly, as if reacting to a sense of impending danger, the animals become frightened. They see the dragon lurking in the distance, they cry out for help, using as a warning signal, a falling variant of the second motive, and its grace noted companion figures against which chromatics that intrudes into the song theme sound ominous. A Nightingale flutters about in great agitation with high intervallic leaps on its true-like motive. Finally, the terror-stricken animals scamper away on a terrifying chromatic descent in staccato brass bassoons and low strings.

Again Mahler telescopes into the beginning of a new episode, ending the rapid descent with an upbeat to the next segment on violin. The clarinets reprise of the song theme in a more relaxed C major soon calms down the frightened animals. A new lyrical melody in the flute, song over the song theme, and the clarinet soon turns into a melancholy plaint when the piccolo follows with a minor key variant.

La Grange suggests that this might have symbolized for Mahler the naivete and helplessness of the animals. There’s no melody that will return in different guys in the angel’s movement begins on a flute and is immediately varied by Piccolo, trumpet, and clarinets in sequence.

In this new form, the melody is recognizable as a quote from the Wunderhorn song Das irdische Leben.

It is as if Mahler were making a passing remark that the sorrows of earthly life are not just visited upon humankind. The animals tried to overcome their melancholy as the song continues lightly and tenderly in a reduced orchestra, then the boisterous donkey kicks off its heels, trying to add some merriment to the scene despite the continuation of descending chromatics in the nightingale song in woodwinds, and a minor key variation of the main theme in strings over the walking bass figure heard earlier. Flighty triplets interject the note of mirth, as the mood continues to lighten, seeking the carefree spirit that prevailed earlier in the A section. A trumpet tattoo pierces the air, warning of the presence of the animal’s antagonist, the hunter man.

This sudden warning squelches what might have been returned to the happy playful atmosphere of the opening section, and the music becomes subdued and Moody, on an F minor version of the song CD, played by flutes over the flighty 16th note figuration heard earlier, now played more meekly by a solo violin. But the trumpet tattoos continue in the background, and ever-present warning, that becomes increasingly prominent as the song theme breaks up into fragments, soon the post horn emerges from the background, once again, the mood changes, now giving the impression of a calm summer afternoon.
Mahler originally entitled this section they’re posted on, the trio or C section is now at hand. One of the most unusual episodes in all of Mahler’s music, over sustained F major triads in the violin.
In a metrical pulse of six-eight, the post torn and through softly from a distance, it overlaps with the trumpet sustains See, creating sound world light-years away from the forest scene. Mahler occasionally uses sustained tones to imbue a musical setting with a dreamlike quality or otherworldly peace, out of an agglomeration of military signals and tattoos played softly. Mahler fashions music of sheer lyrical beauty that would charm the most savage beast. The hero, represented by these military flourishes, reveals his gentler side, just as the animals had shown their roughness.

At this idyllic moment, one might expect an oboe or English horn to carry the melody. But Mahler’s use of a post horn is a brilliant touch. As a member of the Brass family, it is better suited to a hunting call than a woodwind instrument, but also able to produce a warmer, rounder tone than a trumpet, and sounds more diminutive than a french horn. This Taming of the music of the hunt adds an element of irony. The motive of the hero representing man, the hunter is portrayed here not as threatening, but friendly, sounding more like a lullaby to sue the animals fear than a call to the hunt that would frighten them. It is yet another example of Mahler’s brilliant use of melodic motivic transformation. One could consider this musical metamorphosis as a response to the animals arrogant mockery of the dead hunter in the funeral procession of the van Shinto would would cut that was the inspiration behind the third movement of the first Symphony. For a substantial stretch. The free floating post one solo continues until it ends on dotted rhythms that sound like alpine yodels.

Flutes enter furtively on a variant of the post-torn theme that has the charm and childlike innocence of a nursery rhyme. The variant soon turned sour when its tonality touches the minor mode as if the animals are not yet convinced that they are out of danger.

But with the return of the major key, the animal’s untroubled confidence is restored, and they resumed their lighthearted gamble. Soon a sobering tune leads to a brief reprise of the post one interlude in which its cantilena is refashioned into a well known spanish hota, quoted by Glinka in his hota RNAs, and by list in his so-called Romanian Rhapsody, Mahler plays it in the same slow easy tempo as the post horns principal theme, and not in the faster tempo in which the Spanish dance is usually played. An example of thematic transformation sourced outside the symphony.

Here’s the Horta has glitter used in his capris hota Oregon is in only a few measures, the post torn is joined by a pair of horns, playing their own version of the post twins tune. These three join in an exquisite trio that is so captivating and it takes one’s breath away.

Once again, this shortened version of the postwar music closes with soft Alpine yodels, ending on a ringing high a suspended briefly before the next episode begins, cautiously the animals again begin to frolic about as the amusing music undergoes further development, first in the minor mode, but after a few bars back in the major, just as the animals seem content to continue their playful bantering, the post one return, picking up right where it left off, on the same note on which had ended its previous solo, the animal stopped to listen, transfixed by the post twins gentle tones. As before a pair of horns joined with the post horn playing essentially the same music as in the earlier trio, but now with a more active counter theme and the post war.
Soon the temple slackens and the music softens, as if bidding good night to the sleepy animals. The post horn softly plays a yodel figure while the two French horns tenderly sound their hunting calls, suddenly allowed rapid trumpet fanfare shatters the sleepy stillness, and the animals awaken abruptly. Although the A section returns here in its original key, it is not with the skirts or material of the song theme what with the flutes playing a syncopated rhythm that seems to portray the animals hastily fleeing the scene. Instinctively they sense the approach of a hunter, a sense of mystery, but clouds the atmosphere on soft violin tremeloes that sound area is unusual by being played on the bridge, a Piccolo softly plays the mournful edition Laban melody before the subsidiary theme of the skirts or returns and woodwinds and horns, somehow the animals recover quickly from their fear of the hunters imminent presence, and merrily frolic about seemingly unconcerned about their safety to various motives of the absolutism theme. Even the dragon motive seems playful here, soon the dragon is transformed as if by magic to the motive from whence it was derived, the horns announcing its reappearance arrogantly while the violins play the nightingale motive against the walking bass rhythm in low strings. Soon arising fragment of the Vic roof theme that opened the symphony, again threatens danger.

The animals gamble becomes more unruly, and the Nightingale’s twittering music becomes more agitated, as if an argument was in progress. a flurry of descending chromatic sixteenths in the brass bring back the B section, as if in a huff. The section is marked by Mahler grobe, rough for course, the D sections reprise begins with the horns growth treatment of the fourth motor against trumpets mimicry of the triplet figure from the B sections, thematic variants all to the rockers accompaniment of equally loud 16th note figuration, played by bassoons and low strings soon joined by the rest of the orchestra. trills ring out mockingly as playful triplets hurtle about in brass and strings, alternating with fragments of the Nightingale’s fluttering rhythms. All these convoluted scraps of music are combined in a cacophony of routings.

This entire segment seems to be composed of nothing but a wild interplay of countervailing rhythmic figures without melodic material of any kind, thus relating it to the dour first subject of the opening movement, just such a passage caused Mahler’s critics to cringe is that the Herald from the first movement, whose repeating grace noted tones become increasingly pronounced in horns and trumpets.

Finally, a forceful trumpet fanfare intrudes putting an end to the animal’s roughhouse, we still hear scattered cries from the cuckoo, and the nightingale played rapidly and out of tempo, as if they take no notice of the trumpet’s warning, and continue on with their frolicking. As we hear the last cuckoo call, the post horn sounds again in the distance, calling the playful creatures to cast their ears in the direction of its spellbinding song.
As if listening notes smaller, the animals settle down for the last time to hear what will be a shortened version of the post 20 serenades. This time the post horns rapturous song creates a feeling of nostalgic longing, violins recall the soft strains of the Spanish hota that now seems lost in a dream world of wistful remembrances. What is not so apparent is that the holder melody strays from its course momentarily, and we hear the violins anticipate the soft strains of the finale.

Soon the violins melody begins to fade, the two french horns that accompany the post-torn earlier return for their final trio in melting thirds. The horns close with the phrase with which they bid the animals good night at the end of their previous trio. Suddenly the music begins to stir from its restful slumbers, as the A section makes its last appearance quietly, but apprehensively the animals awake from their restful slumber and begin to raise about wildly as repeated cuckoo calls and nightingale fluttering indicate mounting tension.
A long harp glissando whirls up like an enormous gust of wind, as it had done twice during the first movement, it sweeps across the landscape with a huge outburst in E flat minor that reminds us of the terrifying moment in the first movement, and the anti life forces suddenly burst on the scene to disperse the life affirming music of the Pan march.
One might imagine the sudden appearance of a gigantic figure cloaked in black, with a gust of wind its cloak is whisked aside to reveal a monstrous image, perhaps that of man, the hunter, or the mythical God Pan, horns and trombones transform the bird call motive heard at the beginning of the movement into a variant of the terror motor from the first movement by stretching its first interval to an octave and elongating its rhythm.
Mahler clearly intended to evoke the deep shadows of part one, he described this passage as a relapse into the deeply animal form of the all before the huge leap into the spirit to that higher earthly creature, man. As the hunter surveys the scene ominously looking for prey, the string tremeloes that accompany the terrifying orchestral outburst quiet down. A two-note summons repeated throughout the brass carefully and quietly warns the animals of impending danger. They begin to stir first on triplets and timpani, then on repeated fragments from the animal’s various motives, realizing the imminent threat to their very lives, the animals flee in a wild frenzy of galloping rhythms that become increasingly rapid, even Mahler’s favorite march beat, repeating couplets of falling fourths is played here in double time.
Mahler creates a sense of increasing motion not by speeding up the tempo, but by a sequence of increasingly rapid rhythms that merge into a long frantic trill, that parallels the sequence of increasingly faster segments in the second movements B section. A sharp orchestral stroke cuts off the trill and ends the movement.

By Lew Smoley

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