Posts Tagged ‘wind-string duality’

Mahler, Symphony No. 3, Movement 3

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

Getting behind means I keep this one short–three more movements to hit by the first of the year, so a few questions for further thought.

The posthorn solo is, of course, the prominent aspect of this movement, although there is enough music here for a symphony in its own right.  Some questions–what is the significance of the most prominent musical element in a texture being placed off-stage–in a position of drastically reduced promienence?  Is the posthorn solo, with interjections from the orchestra, meant in someway to balance the trombone solo in the first movement?

A big question about the overall structure of the piece–do the two parts of this symphony balance each other?  Do five smaller movements hold their own against the enormous first movement?

Can Mahler’s style be addressed using schemata in the same way that, say, the Viennese Classical style can be?  Possible schemata–the alternation between major and minor chord qualities, found here, for example, in mm.57-58 on the small scale, and on a larger scale in the entire first section, alternating between C major and C minor.  Mahler also has a very typical cadence–for example, mm. 338-339.  Can these types of cliches be as important as those found in Haydn and Mozart?

As always, fascinating orchestration:  mm. 358ff, 437ff, especially.  I have come to feel that a hallmark of the Austrian symphonic tradition–from Mozart on–is the interplay between strings and winds, and Mahler is no exception so far, especially in interior movements.  Motivic material is frequently given to these two groups alternately in Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, and here in Mahler as well, although Mahler now begins to separate the woodwinds and brass (especially the horns, now in an expanded section).  I’ve commented on this before.

So–short but sweet tonight.  With luck, the rest of the symphony will follow in the next two weeks.