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View Poll Results: Your preferred performance practice in Mahler's Sixth?

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  • Andante-Scherzo and 2 Hammer-blows

    6 25.00%
  • Andante-Scherzo and 3 Hammer-blows

    3 12.50%
  • Scherzo-Andante and 2 Hammer-blows

    5 20.83%
  • Scherzo-Andante and 3 Hammer-blows

    10 41.67%
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Thread: Mahler 6: Controversies

  1. #1
    Senior Member World Violist's Avatar
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    Default Mahler 6: Controversies

    Mahler's Sixth symphony has a good few controversies surrounding it, of which two really stand out: the order of the middle two movements and the number of hammerblows in the finale. So I figured I'd try to make a poll here about it. What do you people think about it?
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Kuhlau's Avatar
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    I've voted for the Scherzo then the Andante, and just two hammer blows. Why? Because the Andante makes no sense following the opening movement - whereas the Scherzo as second movement feels right. Having the Andante in 'third position', so to speak, makes the finale all the more impactful. As for the hammer blows, having just two provides a starker ending.

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  3. #3
    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    I agree with Kuhlau.
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

  4. #4
    Senior Member World Violist's Avatar
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    I personally prefer Scherzo-Andante and the three hammerblows. The third one makes the last few measures much more impactful.

    It just occurred to me that the first three votes where against the critical edition of the score... haha.
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

  5. #5
    Assistant Administrator Chi_townPhilly's Avatar
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    There are sound musical reasons for going with the majority opinion (so far) and advocating "Scherzo/Andante" as the preferred order. However, I''m going to (greatly) oversimplify and give you my impressionistic reason for my agreement with FK & Tap's point of view.

    Let's call the bookend movements "Introduction" and "Demise." (I SAID I was oversimplifying!) Now, even though Mahler 6's Scherzo is a highly unconventional Scherzo, I'll go ahead and (maintaining my puerile simplicity here) call it "Playful" [which hints at the historically typical role of a Scherzo]. Now, "Andante" doesn't really mean "slow," but, in the context of the other movements, we can (at least) call it "Slower."

    Now... what makes more sense?
    Introduction/Slower/Playful/Demise, or
    Introduction/Playful/Slower/Demise??!

    3rd hammer-blow? A point belabored... which, in the past, has been the phrase I've used in saying why I can do without the 1st movement's exposition repeat (yeah-- THERE'S the iconoclast in me coming out!)
    The hardest knife ill us'd doth lose his edge. Shakespeare- Sonnet 95

  6. #6
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    Well...Mahler left it Andante-Scherzo and 2 hammerblows.So i voted for that.

  7. #7
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    This is all from memory, but the scherzo-andante make more sense harmonically. HOWEVER: http://www.gustav-mahler.org/gesamta.../gesamt-ph.htm officially the format is Andante-Scherzo, and that also has it's merits. The Allegro (I) and the Scherzo are almost exactly the same, they are both dramatic and incessantly pounding (not to mention both containing march elements). Basically, they sound very similar, and given the length of the first movement, it is very pleasant to have a break from it's weight and oppression.

    Just because Scherzo used to mean joke, means absolutely nothing in regards to this.

    Three hammer blows is more balanced, humans like 3s! Mozart also liked them in the Magic Flute, and it is just Mahler's stupid superstition that made him take it away: NOT HIS MUSICALITY.


    Also, what do you like for the Hammer Blows? What... hammer and what 'drum'?

  8. #8
    Senior Member World Violist's Avatar
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    I put Scherzo-Andante and 3 hammer-blows as my vote. I've read the argument about Mahler having left it A-S and 2 hammer-blows, but I have yet to hear a performance of it that way that actually convinces me. The thing I like so much about S-A is that, while A-S would have a break between the Allegro and Scherzo, S-A makes it far more balanced because, after all, with A-S you have only 20-25 minutes of hellish marching, the Andante, and then 40-50 minutes of just hell, whereas S-A makes it about 30 minutes or so of hell on either side of the comparatively calm Andante.

    Another argument for the S-A order that I find to make far more sense than any argument against it is the harmonic aspect of what happens between the third and fourth movement. The finale starts in C-minor, then modulates to A minor, the "home" key. If the Andante is put as third, it ends in E-flat major, very closely related to C minor, so it makes perfect sense. However, put the Scherzo third and what happens? It ends in A minor, so it's already where the beginning of the finale is modulating to. It makes absolutely no sense that way to me.

    About the hammer-blows: I personally feel that the third hammer-blow makes the "falling" figure after it much much more convincing, although I have heard some extraordinarily convincing ones (Barbirolli, Mitropoulos) that were only really convincing at all because the tympani was so loud it might as well have been a hammer. It just makes everything come together more cohesively, I think, in the long run. And it doesn't hurt the piece either. Another thing I heard about as regards the third hammer-blow: when it was excised, Mahler took out quite a chunk of orchestration with it. So it's thinner and so weak and unconvincing when played that way. It's really rather absurd.

    I like the hammers loud but not too loud (too loud meaning Zander's Philharmonia recording... egad!!!), by the way.
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

  9. #9
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    and then 40-50 minutes of just hell
    The last movement is much less incessant with it's hell. It is more sporadic and less pounding. It lacks the march-like figures which means it is completely different in character.

    It ends in A minor, so it's already where the beginning of the finale is modulating to. It makes absolutely no sense that way to me.
    Well, it does make sense, perfect sense harmonically, it is just that the other was is more convincing, and lacks the tri-tone. But also, because of this tri-tone in the modulation, that could heighten the tension of the piece, which is obviously intended throughout.

  10. #10
    Senior Member SixFootScowl's Avatar
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    delete this post or ignore it.
    Last edited by SixFootScowl; Nov-13-2018 at 05:43.
    Media lies and dishonest governors managed to get Americans give up their liberties over a virus with a >99% survival rate.

  11. #11
    Senior Member SixFootScowl's Avatar
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    We need this poll resurrected since suddenly there is a lot of activity on TC about Mahler 6.
    Media lies and dishonest governors managed to get Americans give up their liberties over a virus with a >99% survival rate.

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