What kind of finale could possibly do justice? Not only to the oil inspiring words of the text, but to the remarkable music that came before. Nothing less than the triumph of life over death is conceived here, finale is to provide an answer to the terrifying existential questions related in Mahler’s program notes that are evoked in the proceeding movements inspired music in and by which model provides us with that answer has thrilled and uplifted audiences the world over.
His music stirs the very depths of the soul, with its profound yearning for meaning and purpose in life, and for redemption from human suffering.
With the finale, Mahler advanced symphonic form to new and impressive heights, he enlarges the orchestra to a degree that only Berlioz or Wagner could have envisioned before him, utilizing enormous brass forces and enhanced percussion. He employs the most advanced spatial effects, such as an offstage band, echo effects, and directional sound placement in the transformation of the simplest sounds of nature and military fanfares into sublime abstractions that go far beyond his efforts in dust clogging the lead the first Symphony and the Wunderhorn Lieder. Just as compelling as the overpowering moments for full orchestra are the more intimate passages for diverse chamber groups.
Mahler’s handling of vocal forces is just as skillful and inventive, particularly in the juxtaposition of choral sections, he combines traditional stylistic elements such as majestic, boggy, and chorale with Wagnerian declamatory outbursts.
He makes yet another innovation by adding his own words to the poetical text, not only are his supplemental verses evidence of literary talent, but they perfectly parallel the club stock owed while providing a personal vision of the meaning of redemption, structurally, Mahler combines various elements of sonata form, in the purely instrumental first part of the movement, using musical material that he will apply more comprehensively during the concluding choral section, at first hearing, the movement seems to be constructed in loosely connected episodes, organized in arbitrary sequence, yet as the movement proceeds, it becomes apparent that an overall structural design was carefully worked out on a vast scale, rather than merely stretching out classical structures to fit the dramatic text.
Mahler conceived of, of the ground plan, as Lagrange suggests, has a long sequence of metaphysical questions and answers, thematic and motivic references to earlier movements are interspersed neatly throughout the movement, rather than presented at the outset, as in the finale of Beethoven’s Ninth.
This referential material functions not only as musical flashbacks but as a validation of the prophetic visions expressed in the earlier movements principle keys function in a similar manner, the grandiose key of E flat major in the closing section virtually overcomes the tragic character of the relative C minor of the first movement. Thus, a progressive tonality reinforces the sense that in the closing moments of the finale, an answer is offered to the metaphysical questions prompted by the music of the opening movement. Notwithstanding the many conceptual and musical references to the first Symphony, there is a fundamental difference in orientation between the two works in the finale of the first Symphony molars approach to redemption is much in the nature of pure medieval romance, an epic tale of a hero engaged in battle against the forces of evil. The struggle between opposing forces is confined to the finale, which takes up half of the symphony, and contains its principal conceptual argument.
In the Second Symphony, the orientation is more spiritual faith and God’s promise of redemption will overcome the banality of death, here the principle argument is contained to the outer movements, while the middle movements serve as deferred as long as they contain references to the first and last movements, providing a means by which to recollect the conflict and issue and hint at its resolution.
The finale opens with a powerful outburst ushered in by a rapid ascending Roan in low strings, that is cut off by a pizzicato note, there is a similarity between this opening and its counterpart in the finale of The first Symphony.
In both, the full orchestra enters by ricocheting off an initial stroke. In the second’s finale, the orchestral outburst explodes immediately after the pizzicato with a cataclysmic D flat minor chord right Calling the potentials episode inserted in the reprise of the scared souls B section, E ascending rapid scale and low strings that begins this movement also relates to the 16th note runs from the opening of the first movement, the orchestral outburst that follows is akin to the cry of a wounded soul.
At the beginning of the first symphonies finale, a stentorian trumpet call emerges from this enormous orchestral eruption, heralding the day of final judgment.
It contains four basic elements, a three-node figure consisting of a rising minor third, followed by a falling minor sixth, three tones rising diatonically to triplets based upon the first two elements, and repeating trochaic or long short figures on molars favorite interval the fourth, the first of these four elements will be transformed into the light motif of the Eighth Symphony, and the last will appear in several later Mahler symphonies, notably the third and ninth this resounding trumpet call signifies the dreaded vision of the end of the world, but it also represents the heroic aspect of man’s efforts to overcome the power of death.
At this point of slight pause leads to a change of meter from the rapid 3/8 time to a more measured and steady common time, four beats to the ball, C major is firmly established, horns and woodwinds combine on an embryonic version of the resurrection theme over a rolling figure in low strings. Mahler adds an interesting touch to this rhythmic figure, by stressing the last three sixteenths of each grouping, after the tempestuous opening measures, the music calms down on a falling three node figure in anapestic rhythm short, short long, this rhythm is repeated three times and violins on a diminished seventh chord, bringing the opening section to a half cadence in an all too brief, blissful moment, out of the mysterious atmosphere that envelops the music as it descends to a sustained low sea, comes a new section, Mahler referred to it as dead roof or Indian vist the color in the wilderness.
It begins with a simple horn call for which Mahler designated the greatest possible number of horns played forcefully and placed at a great distance, the horns are placed off stage to create this sense of distance as if coming from a higher plane. Their call begins on a rising fifth, which some have suggested sounds like the call of the show far during the Jewish high holiday services, a slow variant on triplet rhythms from the skeletal movement, and the middle section of all the follows in the oboe. trumpets and horns play these tattoo like triplets more broadly, recalling their appearance during the opening, a harp extends the triplets into a C major code data that closes this segment in heavenly repose, though somewhat tainted by mournful trombones on a fragment of the terror motive, night descends as the music gently falls into the bass and soft timpani strokes gradually slow down the tempo out of the silence that follows comes a version of the DS AI chorale in F minor played softly by woodwinds.
It appeared during the funeral march of the first movement, but now has lost its tragic character sounding more solemn and majestic, after the woodwind choir, the DS era theme is extended on music of heroic bearing by trombone, and then trumpet that anticipate the resurrection theme that will be sung by the chorus much later on. horns introduce a new segment that develops the trumpet tattoos that emerged from the opening orchestral explosion filler Barford suggests that they sound like Gabriel’s summoning of the legions of death woodwinds accompany fragments of the DSi with a scared SOS triplet figuration as offstage horns and tone the call in the wilderness, night again descends, the section closes in the same manner, as when we first heard the DS era theme, again against hushed string tremulous a new section begins with yet another summons. This time, it is on the falling second of wall, recalling its appearance in the opening movement, overlapping cries of the terror motive urge the music on as the pace quickens, and version of the wall motive on a rising dotted rhythm, played first by clarinets gives the impression of a pitiful cry of despair, akin to the cry of the wounded soul heard at the beginning of a movement, the music becomes increasingly chaotic, strewn with wild cries of waltz, a turn figure is added, as the music drives forward in a state of maddening confusion until it reaches a climax on woodwinds shrieking cries of waltz, it’s energies spent, these cries sink into the low brass and peter out on a faint timpani roll.
After another moment of silence, a definitive statement of the DSP raw theme now in D flat major is softly and solemnly in tone, why an unaccompanied brass choir becoming stronger and increasingly energetic, the DIA’s era chorale ends with the forceful entrance of a sustained tone that suddenly softens and then builds into a full cadence at its height, woodwinds and strings enter assertively with a dotted rhythmic upbeat that ushers in the return of the contrasting heroic theme that followed the treatment of the woodwind of the DSi chorale earlier.
This time, however, the heroic corn calls and delish the continuation of the DSE rye theme, as well as the color in the wilderness motive mightily asserted by trumpets and trombones, sounding like music for a regal procession.
His passage recalls the pomp and granddaughter of the opening funeral rights movement, without any of its tragic character, trumpets and horns present the first day in theme, for the very first time, over a volley of horn and trumpet calls in C major, hinting at ultimate triumph. triplet figuration from the scared soul returns in woodwinds and strings to accompany the caller in the wilderness.
This dynamic passage fades away on rustling string triplets that fall to the base, until only an augmented couplet of half note triplets is in the lowest range of the harp and double bass, the twinkling trills and arpeggiated chords that ended the initial appearance of this segment are now absent, this time, the descent into darkness is no longer soothing, but ominous and bleak, soon only faint sounds of town towns, and a soft timpani roll can be heard.
We are about to enter the development section, here Mahler creates a transitional passage unique for its time, a groundswells slowly develops in the percussion, crescendoing gradually to immense proportions of unbearable cacophony, never heard before in symphonic music.
At the height of this overwhelming percussive onslaught, the development section begins in a majestic temple deliberately restrained, we hear the motive of terror, lashing out from the depths of the orchestra at the height of the percussions onslaught, immediately begins a wild Allegro section in F minor, known as the mark of the resurrected.
This grotesquely demonic music sounds like a furious devils dance worthy of barely owes clip dotted rhythms from the first movement and whiplash upbeats create a terrifying rhythmic upheaval within which the Matic variants of the DSi theme and the terror motive wildly lash out from one section of the orchestra to another.
This brutal March is extended with a momentary appearance of the terror motive in trumpets, and a powerful statement of the DSi theme in woodwinds and strings when the key changes to F major, the march combining elements of both the DSi theme and the terror motive reaches its height, trumpets assert the first full statement of the alperstein theme set against rigorous marked rhythms.
The DSE raw theme now takes on a martial character invigorated by clip dotted rhythms that urge the theme forward, the march continues unabated, yet subjected to a variety of permutations and combinations with violent rhythmic features, such as the whiplash of hurtling upbeats that opened the segment as the march presses forward, it sounds more and more like the closing section of the first movements development, bells of indeterminant pitch ring out against the steady march for them as horns with their bells held high, give out a mighty statement of the transformed Deus era theme, reverting rhythms driving intensity and raw power drive home the immensity of this passage. A magnificent climax Crown’s a mighty statement of the de zero theme played by trumpets and trombones against the rugged clipped dotted rhythms of the March, here the chorale theme sounds like a defiant pronouncement of the final decree, as if for ordained a fragment of the brass chorale theme from the first movement returns.
The brass develop the DSi and alpha stay in themes at length and with unrelenting power as the music approaches a cadence on a long retard, it is cut off by a pause, after which the terrifying outbursts that opened the movement returns now in more rapid tempo, trumpets and trombones assert the violent terror motive in elongated rhythms that make it sound even more terrifying periodic waves of ascending chromatic triplets hurtle downward in woodwinds as it fleeing in terror.
According to Mahler’s own notations on a sketch of this passage, he intended us to witness nothing less than the total disintegration of life’s orderly existence as this cataclysmic passage concludes, we are left with nothing but the soft rumblings of a temporary role.
Once again the temple slackens as the motive of whoa sounds haltingly on a solo trombone, over a hushed string tremeloes cries of despair or repeated and swelled tones on woodwinds as a mournful response to the trombones dollar as call, now begins an abbreviated reprise of the section that first introduced these motors during the exposition and the cellos enter they refashion a segment of the vocal line from the middle section of Warlick.
This melodic variant will serve as the principal theme of a new section, leading to the climax of the orchestral portion of the finale as the tempo presses forward more intently, and offstage military band of trumpets, triangle cymbals and bass drum presents some series of military signals based upon heroic horn calls heard earlier they evoke disturbing memories of the struggles of the first movement.
This offstage martial music contrasts markedly with the cellos, lyrical melody, haunted by the woodwinds, mournful cries of despair, although the cello theme is lyrical in character, it’s fragmented construction, and shifting duple and triple meters make it sound like a rich set of teeth. Frequent falling seconds, the motive of wall sound like impassioned pleas for God’s mercy, violins take up and extend the cellos new theme in shifting meters against stronger though intermittent trumpet calls that press forward as into battle while the pleading theme continues to develop you all stage trumpet calls are silenced momentarily shifting meters and weak bead accents keep the music off balance when the trumpet calls return, the violins pleading theme gives way to repeated offbeat cries of Whoa that lead to a trumpet volley of descending chromatic triplets, which pull the music downward, emerging as it from an abyss.
The pleading themes heard once again in the depths of the brass it no longer sounds like a fervent prayer for salvation, but a terrifying pronouncement of fate pleading theme, now turned against itself becomes increasingly threatening as the tempo continues to press forward, as if to the brink of disaster cries of despair wail out prophetic of the end of days as the music drives relentless bleed to its own Doom tympani strokes played at different parts of succeeding bars create a sense of deranged frenzy, as if striking repeatedly and uncontrollably at the very firmament that holds the universe together utter chaos reigns.
The tension becomes unbearable, when it seems that the music is about to virtually go mad, and enormous orchestral explosion drives the tempo forward to a fever pitch in a shattering climax, we are confronted with nothing less than the dreaded Apocalypse, the end of days that Mahler envisioned it is moving progress, here unleashed in music of terrifying ferocity, and unimaginable power graves burst open, the dead arise and stream forth an endless procession against an enormous welter of percussion, horns and trumpets blast out the terremoto summoning the tortures envisioned as part of the eschatology that surrounds the Day of Judgment.
What we witness here is the reprise of the finales opening Cataclysm generated not from low rumblings in the basis before, but from a wildly chaotic aggregation of polyphony the temple veritably runs amok until it pulls back to our relief, as the trombones dynamic summons heralds a new dawn it’s transfigured terror emotive recalls the bride C major tune that introduced the heroic theme in the finale of The first Symphony notice the repeated rising and falling fourths in the brass theme. harmonically the passage essentially restates the opening section transformed one half step higher.
What you have just heard may very well be the most terrifying music ever written, with the appearance of the terror motive in the context of such an orchestral conflagration, it would seem logical to conclude that we have reached the recapitulation since the exposition began with that motive.
After the grave opening scene ends and the final bars of the terror motive sink to the depths and trombones the music finally calms down and moves into a new section beginning on a hushed D flat chord over a quiet timpani roll, the falling fifths of the caller in the wilderness, softly echo in horns, cellos in their high register, virtually whisper the resurrection theme that was first hinted at after the orchestral outburst that opened the movement, the atmosphere is a glow with a halo of divinity, the oboe plays a much broader version of the resurrection theme, while the cello is continue with their version of it, soon passes two violins and then horns.
What we are witnessing here is an attenuated version of the music that followed the cataclysmic explosion of the opening of the movement.
Now without rumbling sounds in low strings soon the music fades away into bass strings over the soft role of timpani and bass drum, Mahler designates the section that follows as dairy grossa upheld the great summons, here Mahler uses both onstage and offstage ensembles to provide spatial dimension, the music virtually surrounds the audience, as if providing the connecting link between heaven and earth. The atmosphere is calm, yet imbued with a sense of other worlds in this.
This moment of repose serves as a transition to the first appearance of the course, it consists mostly of musical material presented earlier in the call in the wilderness, but played in cadenza like fashion, in a variety of temples, sometimes very slowly, as during the opening horn calls, and at other times very rapidly, with sudden bursts of trumpet tattoos, the opening horn calls are essentially those heard in the earlier section, now extended in the trumpet, bird sounds and flutter rings in flute and Piccolo evoke not death, but a vision of life everlasting.
These sounds of nature contrast with a volley of rapid trumpet tattoos coming from different locations in the hole, the contrast of bird song and military tattoos recalls the opening movement of the first Symphony.
As the segment concludes, a trumpet plays the first three notes of the terror motive against birdcalls evoking a feeling that despite the apocalyptic vision we had just witnessed earlier, we need not fear death for redemption is at hand as the last sustained chord of the off stage band gradually dies away, an acapella chorus, remaining seated softly and tentatively whispers the alpha Stan theme, as if from another world the theme is directly related to the opening bars of earlier and to the DSE Rie theme, which ties it to the first movement subtle hints of the theme were also incorporated into the development section and the Fourth Movement it is one of the most celestial moments in modern music, and is a precursor of the chorus mystic is from the eighth Symphony overlapping the themes cadence.
First violins give the upbeat to the return of the heroic horn calls that first appeared during the exposition, here they’re played very broadly, but in hushed tones. These horn calls carry the trumpet statement of the resurrection theme forward and provide a counterweight to further development of the alpha stay in corral. A trumpet figure from the call in the wilderness section serves as an upbeat to further extension of the alpha stay in theme here played in trumpets against the rising resurrection theme in the violins, these two themes blend into each other seamlessly, the chorus returns to continue the offer steam themes development in hushed solemnity at a slow pace.
Each part of the theme is surrounded by commas rests are interrupted by four monitors, as if to emphasize each aspect. meters shift between duple and triple, as if time were no longer fixed, as the theme rises to a full cadence, the soprano soloist is heard above the throng when the orchestra takes over in more regular eyes Common time, the resurrection theme appears in overlapping sequences, finally climbing to heavenly heights.
On to solo violins and flutes, we seem to have found heavenly peace at last. But memories of profound suffering remain soon muted tremeloes and violas create an air of mystery that holds us in suspense pending the final apotheosis. A fervent prayer for redemption must yet be offered to heaven, and Mahler provides it in his own words. The whoa motive returns sung by the alto soloist to the words are global, and extended on mine hertz or globe. As the tempo presses forward, the alto sings the same melodic phrase the orchestra played earlier. cries of despair again evoke fear and trembling. fragmented phrases in the vocal line give the impression of a soul in torment, pleading for salvation. Be always in high register, take up the melody from the alto in mid course, and pass it on to the cellos, the tonality shifts to the minor keynoting fate as this segment ends. Then the soprano solo enters with a variant of the old glauber theme, the first part of which is based upon the resurrection theme, or solo ends before reaching a full cadence as did the alto soloist slash line in all licked a solo violin extends the melodic line further ending on the motive of wall arising chromatic sequence of tremeloes in Viola is carried upward on a long harp glissando. Bring back the course, as if emerging from the depths, low voices softly and slowly and tone the alperstein theme, to the dark sound of trombones against a soft high trill in the violins, then suddenly, the male chorus soon joined only by the alto soloist, bursts out abruptly with the very words that promise redemption, thus gangan Alpha Stan, heavenly brass chorale emerges on a church like cadence and then quickly fades into silence, setting the stage for the return of the home key E flat major, after a brief pause male voices sing the alpha Stan theme softly and mysteriously, trombones bring the theme to a full cadence. altos joined the male chorus to repeat the words they first sang alone. This brief passage functions almost like a dialogue, a grouping of four fragmentary phrases, each separated by a short pause, sounding like a solemn pronouncement from on high it is the call of the heavenly host, the first line, head out to bourbon is some twice each time with tender compassion, as if whispered by an angel. Then the male chorus acapella shouts out a summons to all humankind, better writer these, prepare yourself this command is extended and sung more slowly and calm by the full course, with the alto solo was rising above them as she did at the close of warli.
In a sudden burst of emotion, violins enter on a rising dotted rhythmic, upbeat, that would be expected to lead to the same heroic music heard earlier, but instead of ushering in horn calls that would propel the resurrection theme to new heights.
The violins assert a variation of that theme played against a rising phrase on four horns with which the resurrection theme begins, thus clearing the way for a vocal duet. anticipation intensifies as the music becomes more energetic, the alto and soprano sing an impassioned dialogue in great agitation on rising and falling scales from the resurrection theme that mirror the texts reference to soaring aloft, as the tempo increases the tension nounce the soloist joined together on the words zoom lick, zoomed unchain our groomed and sung to an elongated version of the same phrase to which the alto soldier was saying the words veer to mirror unleashing Gavan, God will give me light from the early movement.
Thus early, its promise of redemption is now fulfilled as the vocal duet ends, bass voices enter softly on the resurrection theme, over which violins and flute play an inverted version of it.
Gradually, the music presses forward, as the resurrection theme and its variant are transferred from one section of the orchestra to another over harp arpeggios.
Each section of the chorus enters as the music rises higher, until trumpets and trombones Hail the light of eternal life, with a glorious invocation of resurrection cut off in midstream by a sudden pause.
A magnificent choral statement of the resurrection themes now stated broadly, it concludes on a sustained reverse swell, Sung on the word Laban, as woodwinds reassert the resurrection theme, the tempo slows down as we approach the quarter. This quarter is not merely an extension of material from the recapitulation, but the ultimate culmination of the movement and the entire Symphony, a structural deviation from traditional symphonic form, as is the custom, the chorus stands at this point to hell, the advent of redemption on the alpha standard theme song with overwhelming power in a weighty temple against the orchestral version of the same theme and trumpets and trombones, arise yay arise you will my heart in a trice these words resound with the joy of longing fulfilled.
We have overcome the terrifying visions of the opening movement and the vulgarities of the scarcer and risen to the heavenly heights of eternal glory. Suddenly, the tempo increases as the chorus extends the office day and theme, and horns and trumpets assert the resurrection theme as a summons from on high. The full chorus calls to God with ever greater fervor on a sequence of three note phrases that seems to answer the short couplet sung to the words he’s been on guard on the veto to got her during really simple faith has conquered the fear of everlasting torment, and one through to eternal peace, with the concluding line of text, the final apotheosis is reached in an overwhelming climax for full Orchestra and Chorus.
A long retard ends with one of the most magnificent cadences in all of music, to reach such a glorious moment, it was well worth enduring the painful emotions evoked during the earlier movements, in the finale, and especially its closing section.
The dreadful questions of the first movement are answered in the fulfillment of God’s light and love, the orchestra alone will provide the denouement as the bells resound with the glory of redemption, brass sound the resurrection theme in stretto like entrances that sound like reverberating Clarion calls. In a more agitated tempo, this theme is pronounced very broadly in the depths of the orchestra, and repeated more urgently by bass strings and woodwinds diminishing rapidly on string tremeloes, but there will be no quiet ending for this glorious work for the orchestra explodes with joy on a powerful sustained E flat major chord against which trumpets play the first two notes of the resurrection theme twice, and they then increase the interval from a sixth to a full octave in preparation for the long closing chord that resonates with a massive sound of all 10 horns and ends with a sharp stroke, Mahler will use a similar device at the close of his eighth Symphony.
If Mahler set out to write a Choral Symphony in the image of Beethoven’s great ninth, he not only succeeded, but in many respects surpassed his famous predecessor, even Mahler was astounded at what he achieved in the final course, he said, the soaring development and upward wave is here, so immense, so unprecedented, that afterwards, I did not know myself how I could have arrived at it.
The power and majesty of the conclusion is so overwhelming that those who come to Mali for the first time through this work usually become malaria, Ian’s for life, it is a remarkable achievement.
By Lew Smoley