Listening Guide – Movement 4: Sturmisch bewegt


Without a pause after the previous movement, that finale begins with an enormous explosion that ricochets off the first beat into a massive dissonant chord in high woodwinds, while at once called this chord the cry from a deeply wounded heart, following upon the hushed sounds of the funeral march gradually fading away at the close of the third movement. This powerful outburst shocks us into the dramatic action that follows.
It may be likened to the dissonant chord that opens the corresponding movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, which may well have been a source.

On the very next beat, the timpani pounds out a powerful roll to complete the initial gesture. With this opening Cataclysm, Mahler cries out in anguish at the tragic fate of humankind, so ironically signified by the funeral march movement, it’s disquieting stillness at the end, being shattered by this outburst.

The finales temple markings Sturmisch bewegt agitated storm, makes explicit the nature of the movements opening section, which was originally entitled darling ferno. For what we now witness is nothing less than a violent torrential storm seen not as a musical depiction of a dramatic event, but an expression of internalized rage and frustration at the injustice if not absurdity of death, that must of necessity abruptly dash our dreams and hopes before they can be fulfilled.

After the opening dissonant explosion, a deluge of wild string figuration surges upward into a powerful tremolo out of which the brass state the first four notes of what will later become the main theme. In outline this these first four nodes comprise an ascending fourth, thus a reference to the symphonies motto at this early stage in a movement that will last nearly as long as the rest of the symphony mala gives us this hint of the heroic theme that will resolve the stormy internal conflict that now rages and torrents of sound and fury.

Rapidly descending triplet figures menacingly thrust out in the middle of the raging storm, sounding like machine gunfire scattered across the battlefield. There spasmodic the salt, challenging the hero, represented by a fragment of the heroic theme just heard in the brass. The cry of distress continues its anguished whale intruding throughout the storm seat.

Let’s listen to the opening of this moment. martially enough strength to pull its fragments together. The heroic theme presents itself majestically and in full bloom over waves of the eighth note figuration from the opening store music, the second half of the heroic theme is almost a mirror image of its first half, as his models want, he begins to develop this theme immediately. Each of its elements undergoes a transformation as the music continues to surge forward with enormous power and intensity. A variant of the three no cello motives from the development section of the first movement soon appears, treated here as a thematic fragment also significant is the incorporation of the chromatic descending triplet figure from the opening store music.

Mahler adds another figure from the first movie, this is a variation of the march tread that first appeared in the heart during the opening section of the first movements development. The storm music continues to rage on, straining to reach upward on ever-widening into valid leaps in the violins. The tempo holds back momentarily as another climax approaches, only to rush forward again with greater force. As the storm scene continues unabated for nearly 60 measures. It seems to lose control maniacally repeating out cries of despair over spasmodic fits and starts of the storms rapid figuration punctuated by a drumbeat after a very short pause, and finally ending with a single soft string pizzicato and drumbeat. descending triplets that function as the storm battles antagonist, curiously absent from the exposition section thus far, now return if only as faint lightning flashes in trumpet and trombone, then stated more broadly and clarinet bassoon horns. It would seem that the storm has at last a baited and calm will now prevail, at least for the present.

After the tension of the storm, the scene fades wildlands inter soft softly and tenderly on a rising chromatic sequence that becomes increasingly ardent as it moves higher as if yearning for love the crew provides the hero with relief from the raging conflict that engulfs him, but the yearning sentiment of this passage finds no resolution.
The music merely falls back upon itself when it reaches its high point after losing its initial impulse, then furtively softening to a whisper to lead us into the enchanting second theme. Gently stirred by syncopated minor thirds in the horns, and lightly sprinkled with delicate pizzicato, punctuation, and low strings.

The second theme pours forth its romantic passion, which is one of Mahler’s most diffusive romantic melodies. Notice that it contains several elements of the blue Mena theme, particularly in the rhythm and shape of the very first phrase, and the eloquent phrase endings on a project tour, but unlike the principal theme from that discarded movement, with its simplistic sentimentality, and rigidly constructed cellular phrasing, the second theme here has much more thematic variety, less repetition, and a more creative manner of cross-referencing, such as in its use of rising scales that relate to the main theme of the first moment, notice the reference to the cello motive of the first movement, here the cello motive occurs briefly on falling to note figures played by an oboe and clarinet.

The second theme latter part, played on the violins and octaves expands upon the opening part, emphasizing the sentimentality of longing, and the falling major second and ends the first part of the booming theme. Mahler stresses the themes effusive quality by accelerating and slowing down by turns. As the second theme builds to a climax, it becomes more intense.

Pouring out its deep longing with ever greater fervency. More emphasizes the rapturous nature of the passage, by marking it rubato meaning to be played freely, alternating between accelerating and slowing down the strings rhapsodize on an extension of the theme, almost like an operatic area.

This rubato passage culminates in a leap of a ninth it thrusts the music forward and is then suspended on a high note for a brief but thrilling moment. The melody descends from there in a vigorous flurry that leads to an arching phrase which falls on a huge swell over one of Mahler’s lengthy apologia tours, in a full cadence to D flat major, the main key of the second subject, it is one of the most romantically expressive passages in all of Mahler’s music.
The entire second subject is not only far removed from the storm music that preceded it but takes no part in the raging conflict that contains the dramatic argument of the movement.

You cannot have the entire Symphony nor does the second theme appeared during the development section that follows with the exception of a brief moment of recollection after material from the first movement’s introduction returns. It would seem that Mahler only intended this lovely music to function as a diversion from the stormy conflict about to be renewed.

Following the close of the second subject to horns softly play a dreamy melody that contains a subtle reference to the gazelle and song of the first movement. The cadence with which this melody ends anticipates the final cadence of the entire Symphony. On the gentle murmuring of the cellos dirge, like March tread from the first movement, the model-like sequence of falling fourths returns, stated slowly and softly by two clarinets. horns quietly play the opening notes of the heroic theme, answered by a short volley from its antagonist. The descending chromatic triplet figure played rapidly on muted horns.

The principles of the conflict locked in combat during the opening storm scene are about to reengage. Soon the suspense increases as the march tread become more agitated horns play the first few notes of the heroic theme softly in anticipation of what is to come. But when the Trumpet and trombone repeat these notes more forcefully after an unexpected swell in strings, we are suddenly thrust back into the raging storm of battle with which the development section begins trumpets hailed a return to battle with a demonstrative statement of the heroic themes opening notes, after which the full orchestra bursts out with a deluge of the storm music. The conflict is renewed with even greater vigor and intensity than before. A life and death struggle between opposing forces ensues as motivic material cross swords in hand-to-hand combat. As the intensity reaches its height. The raging storm music suddenly vanishes and gives way to a flood of bright see major sunlight.

This unanticipated shift in tonality and mood accompanies the equally unexpected reprise of the second part of the main theme, played by the woodwinds over whispering string trills. trumpet softly plays the heroic theme in its first complete statement, with a new uplifting cadential phrase regaled with military horn signals from the symphonies introduction and energized with string figuration from the final opening section. A thematic inversion of the heroic theme follows in subdued brass, after which the cello motive makes an appearance in oboes and clarinets.

Just as it would seem that the hero has weathered the storm, it suddenly re-emerges in full force. For huge crescendo whips up the torrential storm music to its former intensively repeated cries of distress greet the opposing forces as they engage in a battle to the accompaniment of a furious string figuration from the opening movement. A powerful wind fanfare heralds the first four notes of a relic theme, resounding from the full brass, like a clarion call to victory. Despite being deluged by a flood of rapid figuration, and a volley of horn calls, the heroic theme will not be denied. Undaunted, the theme scales the battlements with its succeeding phrase. a momentary pause heightens the tension as if the opponents take one long breath before plunging into battle with a renewed energy. something remarkable happens to the tonality. With that last outburst. Mahler admitted that at this crucial point in the work, he had difficulty fashioning the right effect. After trying out many possibilities, he realized that he had to modulate from one key to the key just above it, from C to D major, the main key of the piece that could have been done very easily he suggested by using the intervening semitone modulating from C to C sharp, and then to D. But everyone would have then known what the next step was going to be. He wanted the D major chord to sound as if it came from heaven, or from another world. If there is now one truly great thing in the symphony mauler professed, I know it is this passage.

Listen to this passage again seems like a Deus Ex machina, a God-given means through which the hero will attain ultimate victory. Now the heroic parallel operation that had been interrupted earlier by the reprise of the storm music can begin in earnest. A flood of D major ushers in a majestic procession on the inversion of the heroic theme played nobly over a galloping rhythm and bass strings. One can just imagine the hero in all his regalia, riding triumphantly into battle, as if emerging naturally from the heroic theme, the original motto with which the symphony began, sometimes called the nature motive, now returns played by seven horns. It appears here in a different guise, as an extension of the heroic theme.

The purpose of the theme’s embryonic statement during the introduction to the first movement now becomes crystal clear. The hero is but an extension of nature, its most glorious aspect. Now, the entire orchestra celebrates the union of these thematic motivic elements of the hero and nature in an ingenious variety of combinations. Eventually, the music calms down, and we hear a salt stirring passage on a sustained D major chord over accented rumblings in the string basis. Just saw the conversion of the nature motive to a part of the heroic theme isn’t missed. Mahler suspends further development and brings the symphonies introduction back, in brief, it complete with horn calls, trumpet tattoos on clarinets and flutes, and cuckoo calls, all ending with a brief reference to the second theme. It’s like a magical nostalgic vision as unexpected as was the sudden flood of D major that occurred only moments earlier. But the dream vanishes as the dirge-like March tread from the first movement returns subtly in low strings.

The nature motive on violins cuckoo calls on a clarinet and a hint of the first movement’s main theme, played briskly on a bassoon, followed by bird flutter rings on the flute, all present a mosaic of short phrases in dialogue that further recalls the distant past of the first movement. They not only tie together the opening and closing movements of the symphony, but make more apparent their musical interrelationships and provides a strikingly creative transition to the recapitulation that follows deviating from traditional structural practice, Mahler begins the recapitulation at the end of this reference back to the first movement, not with the heroic theme, the main theme of the exposition, as would have satisfied the rules of sonata form, but with the lyrical second theme that had no significant role than in the development.

Of course, like most of Mahler’s melodies, it is not presented precisely as It first appeared, but is expanded in rising sequences. At the height of this passage, a sudden burst of speed and a crescendo impel the music forward on a syncopated variant of the descending chromatic figure previously used as an extension of the second theme, is suddenly eruption of energy quickly dissipates, as the music softens, until only a diminished chord in F minor remains. All is veiled in mystery, suspended on that diminished seventh chord.

At this point, Mahler must find a way to bring back the heroic first theme, in preparation for the victory that has been anticipated in the symphonies very first measures. Out of the stillness, an ascending three-note figure suddenly thrusts out loudly and abruptly and violas. It is repeated in a succession of rhythmic variants, each one softer and slower and differently positioned in the ball. Remarkably, this little jabbing figure provides the means by which Mahler creates one of his most fascinating transitions. As soon becomes clear, this little figure is a motif Excel, that gradually becomes recognizable as the opening notes of the heroic theme into which it grows. It when the theme itself emerges, Mahler does not simply dispense with the little cellular figure, he uses it again, as a countervailing motive that works its way into the eighth node figuration that accompanies the second part of the main theme, and expanded variant of this little cellular figure defiantly Asserts Itself yet again, until Mahler finally disposes of it.

The recapitulation now in process concentrates on the further development of various elements of the first subject. The cello motor from the first movement returns, as it did toward the end of the first movement, as the violin stretch higher and higher. In the finale, it plays the role of extending the main theme until trumpets wring out a volley of tattoos.

Also from the first movement, these tattoos propel the music forward on an inverse variant of the dirge-like tread from the symphonies introduction. The music builds gradually to a huge explosion with which the coda begins. This buildup is similar to the one appearing in the first movement. As during that extensive passage that builds to a huge outburst in the first movement, Mahler directs that the tempo should be held back, as the music grows stronger and more rhythmically active, thus creating enormous tension as it moves toward a huge climax. Hero recording calls, played with their bills high enter triumphantly, just before this climax, leading the hero to victory. The climactic orchestral explosion is a quotation of the huge fanfare climax of the first movement, slightly reorg frustrated, once again Mahler engages a sudden harmonic shift to D major.

The symphonies principal key that heightens the climax is overwhelming power. This time the climax does not recede quickly as it had in the first movement. With the advent of acota final victory has been achieved. The heroic theme first heard in its entirety as a distant vision during the beginning of this movement, now resounds gloriously in the brass. Even the timpani joins in with a brisk version of the repeating fourths, that served in the proceeding movement, not for a celebration, but for a funeral procession. Now Mahler ties together the heroic theme and the nature motive on which it is based, making evident their multivac and conceptual relationship, his intentions become obvious to turn the forces of nature into a hero, who will conquer the disruptive antagonist that seeks to defeat the heroic nature of the Spirit, hero, and nature are united in victory. They are set in motion by the same March rhythm that accompanies the inverted variant of the heroic theme earlier.

At the height of a magnificent peroration, the triumphal procession marches to glory revitalized, the nature theme becomes more demonstrative swelling with pride and noble bearing.

At the height of the heroes, victory comes a crucial point, tellingly marked with the word trium fall in the score. by such a designation Mahler clearly intended this passage to be the cornerstone of the entire movement, if not have the whole Symphony. Unfortunately, few conductors give a significant effect to the markings here. For this excerpt, I’ve chosen a recording that I believe, does justice to this passage. mauler has all of the horns rise here, as they majestically in tone a call to life on a variant of the heroic theme that proceeds to a monumental cadence.

Combining the nature and hero themes in perfect counterpoint is this triumphant music continues without change in tempo for no less than 68 bars. A dramatic apologia tour in D major for brass prepares the way for the final cadence foreshadowed during the development. Now more or less the tempo lose. trumpet tattoos riding over waves of rapid string figuration convert the opening storm scene into a heroic apotheosis. These tattoos soon take on the guise of whooping triplet figures from the first movement. Yet another example of how Mahler foreshadows final resolution in earlier movements. These triplets hurtle upward with increasing urgency into isolated orchestral strokes over an enormous timpani and tracks. Angle roll on. All finally cut off by a two-note, orchestral snap with which the symphony ends

By Lew Smoley

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