Mahler's mammoth Third Symphony, virtual concert from Berlin on a historic day, it turns out

Mahler: Symphony #3 at the Berlin Philharmonic (by livestream, not travel)

On Saturday, February 29, 2020, the Berlin Philharmonic broadcast on Digital Concert Hall a live performance of Mahler’s Symphony #3 in D Minor, which runs about 100 minutes.

It was a good thing to see a European concert online when people are wary of the coronavirus.  I didn't have to travel to see this.  The cost was about $12.

Lorenzo Viotti (who is quite young) conducted, and the contralto in the fourth movement was Elina Garance.  The concert was previewed with a QA of the contralto about singing Mahler in particular, which she said is very personal.

The work comprises two 'parts'.  Part 1 is a huge Sonata form movement that runs 35 minutes.  The opening theme is a paraphrase of the last movement of Brahms’s First and hovers between D Minor and the relative F Major.  The Exposition is one of the longest in the literature. The movement ends in a whirlwind in the relative F, which would normally sound trite (like Chopin’s B-flat minor Scherzo).  But here it emphasizes that Part 1 is an 'exposition' for the five movements in Part 2.

The next two movements are a minuet and a scherzo, and then the fourth movement is a typical song, slow.  The fifth movement has a boys choir, and the last movement is a huge Adagio, one of the few symphonic adagios that ends loudly, with a D Major chord held for about 15 seconds. The recapitulates some material from the first movement.

The Wikipedia article gives the names of the movements as a program: Part 1 is the entrance of summer, and the last five movements have Mahler listening to Flowers in the Meadows, Animals in the Forest, Man, Angels, and Love.

When I was a soldier in Basic Training in 1968 at Fort Jackson and played organ at chapel on some Sunday morning services (I think it was after I got out of Special Training Company), I played the theme from the last movement by ear as a postlude.

I’ll share the sheet music, performance pf: Semyon Bychkov cond/ WDR Sinfonie-Orchester Koln, posted in 2016 by tomekkobialka.

I have a copy (CD) of Abbado on DG.

In 2001 (as I best recall) I heard the work performed by the Minnesota Orchestra in Minneapolis when I was living there.

During the leap year day performance replay, news of the first deaths in the United States from COVID19 (in a nursing home in Washington state) and news of the first positive tests in the District of Columbia That night, I went into town, to a DC libertarian party gathering and then to a bar, Nellie’s Sports Bar on U St. No one was worried yet. But I had already cancelled (at some loss) a pitchfest trip to Los Angeles Feb 19-24 out of fear of contact tracing and being stranded a long time away from being able to maintain my sites. That’s the only time I have ever done that. I did make a smaller car trip Feb 21-22 to Lexington VA and ate at the Red Hen, which had tossed out Sarah Huckabee Sanders. It was a disturbing and memorable time. I did work the 16 hour day for the Virginia Democratic primary on March 3, after everybody dropped out for Biden on March 2. The work is partisan in name only; we do our jobs to the letter with no personal discretion, and Virginia's laws are fairly liberal on accepting id's.

To impart a sense of what the nation faced almost immediately after the start of March 2020, read Michael Donnelly's Medium article "No Good Options" from March 11, 2020 (may require membership).

(Originally Posted: Sunday, March 1, 2020 at 7 PM EST;  Rewritten and posted Monday, August 22, 2022 by John W Boushka))