Movement 3: Scherzo. Kräftig, nicht zu schnell
- D major.
- Horn solo.
As second part of the symphony follows the above mentioned third movement, the Scherzo. Totally unexpected, the character of the symphony seems to change: A joyful and exuberant, nearly burlesque atmosphere, caused by the typical Mahlerian rural valses, seems to spread, but it does not seem being serious, rather forced, nearly exaggerated, as if one tries to chase away a depression by artificial cheerfulness, to turn towards life full of force and energy in order not having to listen to the inner tragic.
The irony which often can be found in Mahler's other Scherzi is completely missing, instead tragic sighs of the wind instruments are heard among the valses over and over again, the joyful motion is interrupted by phases of deep thoughtfulness where wistful wind phrases imitate each other like echoes. In a sharp and vehement ending, the Scherzo stops abruptly.