Here is a short, 20-second isolation of just the Viola section of the closing moments of the Third Movement of Gustav Mahler’s beyond-sublime Fifth Symphony — one of the greatest musical compositions that has ever sprung from the dim-ass skull of human consciousness. I had never heard this isolated expression before today, despite hundreds of hearings (once, live, at the New York Philharmonic in Manhattan), buried as it is under the ecstatic-crazed baklava-layering of his infinite musical and spiritual genius. I have played and replayed this little thing some 30 times just now, and waves of tears come fully to the eyes and drip down I shit you so fully NOT.
Here’s what Mahler said about the entirety of this movement: “Every note is full with life, and the whole thing whirls around in a dance. . . . There is nothing romantic or mystical about it; it is simply the expression of unheard-of energy. It is a human being in the full light of day, in the zenith of life.”
Many thanks to the violaist Claire Kane Whitcomb for this blast of heroin in my soul’s tired veins.