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The Music Room => General Classical Music Discussion => Topic started by: Mark on November 13, 2007, 04:40:08 AM

Title: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: Mark on November 13, 2007, 04:40:08 AM
There's an article by conductor James Conlon in this month's Gramophone, in which he discusses the thorny problem of the order of the Andante and Scherzo in Mahler's Sixth Symphony. As many will know, Mahler originally had it as: Scherzo/Andante. But then he reversed that order ... and at his death, that's how things stood.

Of course, later, on the authority of his Wife, Alma, the order was apparently reversed again, back to the way Mahler first had it. Yet, some seemingly disputed this 'evidence', and have continued the practice of Andante/Scherzo. Advocates of this order include Sir Simon Rattle, Colin Matthews and Norman Del Mar. Those conductors against include Mengelberg (who had the authority of Alma for the change back), Leonard Bernstein and Bernard Haitink.

Conlon himself still seems undecided: he makes a good argument both ways. For myself, and after listening to versions which run the movements in both orders, I have to say I'm for the Scherzo/Andante option. Somehow, the monumental last movement has greater impact if the Andante preceeds it. Besides which, the Scherzo sounds to me like an extension of the first movement, and therefore all the more logical when following it.

What's your view?
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: Cato on November 13, 2007, 05:00:40 AM
Second-guessing is usually wrong.

I consider the Scherzo the weakest movement, but it does flow better from the first movement, and the Andante flows better into the last one.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: not edward on November 13, 2007, 05:57:12 AM
Scherzo, then andante.

The similarities of the first movement and the scherzo aren't a problem with me, and the finale is all the more effective when following the island of tranquility that is the slow movement.

For me, an ideal interpretation of this symphony is one where hope is not extinguished until the final hammer blow: I think placing the slow movement directly before the finale aids this.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: Mark on November 13, 2007, 07:15:54 AM
For me, an ideal interpretation of this symphony is one where hope is not extinguished until the final hammer blow: I think placing the slow movement directly before the finale aids this.

And I agree, absolutely.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: Keemun on November 13, 2007, 07:28:14 AM
I'm undecided because I've never given it any thought.  Malher's 6th is one of those symphonies that is frequently recommended by Mahler fans (of which I am one) but I cannot seem to get into. :-\ But I keep trying because I'm stubborn like that.  8)   
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: Sergeant Rock on November 13, 2007, 07:34:13 AM
We discussed this at some length in the old forum. My preference for Scherzo/Andante hasn't changed. Henry-Louis de La Grange (after surmising that Mahler and Mengelberg discussed the movement order in 1909 with Mahler still unsure and undecided) sums up my feelings quite well:

"The resemblance between the opening of the first and second movements (a repeated ostinato on A in the low strings) was probably called to Mahler's attention as a weakness by one of his friends and disciples who had not yet realized how convincing this similiarity can sound in a work in which everything is exceptional. Furthermore, the sequence of keys (E flat-C minor), and the need for the moment of repose provided by the meditative Andante before the hurricane of the Finale, seem to be all-powerful arguments in favour of placing the Andante next to the Finale. Moreover, the ironic and distorted Scherzo, which denies the exultant coda of the first movement of which it is a parody or caricature, loses its meaning altogether when it is not heard immediately after it."

Besides, Szell, Solti and Karajan played it that way. That's an uttlerly compelling and convincing argument.

Sarge

Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: AnthonyAthletic on November 13, 2007, 07:46:25 AM
I have to say I'm for the Scherzo/Andante option. Somehow, the monumental last movement has greater impact if the Andante preceeds it. Besides which, the Scherzo sounds to me like an extension of the first movement, and therefore all the more logical when following it.

Absolutely  ;D

But when I get a recording the Andante/Scherzo way I wouldn't think of reprogramming the cd player to put the scherzo 2nd.  IIRC Jansons was the last person to do the 6th Andante/Scherzo, seems a little strange to hear it this way after what now is the norm.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: MishaK on November 13, 2007, 08:05:15 AM
I'd have to  say I prefer Scherzo/Andante. That's what Haitink did here in Chicago a few weeks ago and it was by far structurally the most compelling performance I have ever heard.


Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: Mark G. Simon on November 13, 2007, 08:16:01 AM
I've read a booklet by Gilbert Kaplan that makes a very convincing case for Andante/Scherzo.

I still prefer Scherzo/Andante. As has been said by others here, I think the finale flows more naturally out of the Andante. For one thing, it begins, not directly in A minor, but on a Ab7 chord in first inversion. It sounds to me like Mahler did this specifically to link with the Andante, which is in Ab major.

The Scherzo is the logical follower of the opening Allegro by being in A minor. Following the A major close of the first movement, the sequence repeats the major/minor juxtaposition which is one of the important motives of the symphony.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: Mark on November 13, 2007, 08:54:05 AM
We discussed this at some length in the old forum.

I must've missed that discussion. :-[

Quote
My preference for Scherzo/Andante hasn't changed. Henry-Louis de La Grange (after surmising that Mahler and Mengelberg discussed the movement order in 1909 with Mahler still unsure and undecided) sums up my feelings quite well:

"The resemblance between the opening of the first and second movements (a repeated ostinato on A in the low strings) was probably called to Mahler's attention as a weakness by one of his friends and disciples who had not yet realized how convincing this similiarity can sound in a work in which everything is exceptional. Furthermore, the sequence of keys (E flat-C minor), and the need for the moment of repose provided by the meditative Andante before the hurricane of the Finale, seem to be all-powerful arguments in favour of placing the Andante next to the Finale. Moreover, the ironic and distorted Scherzo, which denies the exultant coda of the first movement of which it is a parody or caricature, loses its meaning altogether when it is not heard immediately after it."

Thanks for this. Very interesting.

I'm going to retag my Jansons/Royal Concertgebouw Live MP3s so that the Andante comes third. 0:)
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: EmpNapoleon on November 13, 2007, 10:07:54 AM
When I saw James Conlon conduct the 6th, he said that he was quite convinced of Andante then Scherzo because of a very short book/pamphlet.  He didn't say the title or author, but did say that any other way is wrong.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: Mark G. Simon on November 13, 2007, 10:17:57 AM
When I saw James Conlon conduct the 6th, he said that he was quite convinced of Andante then Scherzo because of a very short book/pamphlet.  He didn't say the title or author, but did say that any other way is wrong.

That would be Gilbert Kaplan's The correct movement order in Mahler's Sixth symphony. Kaplan Foundation, New York 2004, ISBN 0974961302.

It does make a very convincing case that Mahler's final preference was for Andante/Scherzo.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: Mark on November 13, 2007, 12:11:37 PM
When I saw James Conlon conduct the 6th, he said that he was quite convinced of Andante then Scherzo because of a very short book/pamphlet.  He didn't say the title or author, but did say that any other way is wrong.

Yet in the article, he leaves you in no doubt that whatever he thinks intellectually, he still feels emotionally connected to the Scherzo/Andante order.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: jochanaan on November 13, 2007, 01:05:45 PM
If I were leading it, I'd do the Scherzo first.  My thinking tends to follow de la Grange's.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: MichaelRabin on November 13, 2007, 01:29:07 PM
I am with the Scherzo/Andante camp too. Benjamin Zander also makes out a case for this on his Telarc CD discussion as well.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: Larry Rinkel on November 13, 2007, 01:42:44 PM
Besides, Szell, Solti and Karajan played it that way. That's an uttlerly compelling and convincing argument.

Boulez and Levine too. For all the reasons cited, I find S/A more convincing.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: drogulus on November 13, 2007, 03:45:46 PM


I still prefer Scherzo/Andante. As has been said by others here, I think the finale flows more naturally out of the Andante. For one thing, it begins, not directly in A minor, but on a Ab7 chord in first inversion. It sounds to me like Mahler did this specifically to link with the Andante, which is in Ab major.

The Scherzo is the logical follower of the opening Allegro by being in A minor. Following the A major close of the first movement, the sequence repeats the major/minor juxtaposition which is one of the important motives of the symphony.

      This is pretty convincing. Regardless of what Mahler finally decided, it sounds as though the music was written with S/A in mind. I personally find the "calm before the storm" argument persuasive. It sounds right to me, too. I believe Zander supports this as well.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: greg on November 13, 2007, 03:54:08 PM
Scherzo, Andante all the way  8)
(hey, that rhymes)

I'm undecided because I've never given it any thought.  Malher's 6th is one of those symphonies that is frequently recommended by Mahler fans (of which I am one) but I cannot seem to get into. :-\ But I keep trying because I'm stubborn like that.  8)   
i think it's taken me at least 10 listens until i could say that i actually enjoy the last movement lol
the structure is so hard to understand, and the music just seems to go everywhere for 30 minutes, just takes a while to get

Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: MishaK on November 13, 2007, 04:14:19 PM
Scherzo, Andante all the way  8)
(hey, that rhymes)

Only with very American pronunciation of "Andante".  ;)
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: Lilas Pastia on November 13, 2007, 05:27:26 PM
I suggest  a thread on Beethoven's 9th; Andante-Scherzo: why not?

Truth of the matter is: the jury's still out on this. Mahler himself wasn't sure. If such a major thing as movement order cannot be decided with absolute certainty by the composer, why bother? Let the conductor decide. He can then make his own choices about tempo relationships and interpretive emphasis derive accordingly.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: PSmith08 on November 13, 2007, 06:40:32 PM
Both Jerry Bruck and Reinhold Kubik make, to my mind, overwhelmingly persuasive arguments for A-S. I, for one, am left with little doubt that Gustav Mahler intended the order to be A-S. Ratz based too much of his argument for S-A on Alma Mahler's recollections, flying in the face of considerable evidence - much of it in Mahler's hand - in favor of A-S. Kubik almost begins with this little bit, "Ratz,who became the first editor of the Critical Edition of Mahler and who wrote the standard textbook on the theory of musical form that is still in use today,was at the heart of his scholarly being an analyst, not a historian or a philologist. He was,however,completely convinced that he could make compelling—and accurate—determinations about content through formal analysis and vice versa. Should new facts alter the picture of a work, Ratz was not infrequently inclined to rearrange the facts slightly to maintain his analyses,as can often be seen if one compares Ratz’s editorial decisions with the sources." (Kaplan ed. 2004, 37) That, to my way of thinking, shows that you had someone making a crucially important decision with a pretty aggressive preexisting editorial vision. Indeed, I doubt that any person of that mindset would make a decent editor, regardless of the subject matter, of a critical edition. The anecdote Kubik relates about the third hammer-blow (Ibid., 37f.) shows how willing Ratz was to accept or ignore evidence to further his arguments-from-form about issues.

The meat of the issue, and - once again, in my mind - where the Ratz decision falls is this, "Here Ratz departed once and for all from any basis in fact. First, he asserted that Mahler had changed the order “apparently under the influence of others.” This is totally unimaginable and would have been utterly unique anywhere in all of Mahler’s lifelong revision process. As far as we know, Mahler never made decisions as a composer on the basis of such influences,as Bruckner,for example,had done several times. The second assertion Ratz pulled out of the air was that Mahler “later realized that the original order was the only right one and the only one that corresponds to the internal structure of the work.” There is—as Jerry Bruck shows in his essay—no documentation of any kind to indicate a second change of mind by Mahler. For these reasons,the reference to the “temporarily adopted order” is not factual. Rather, from 1906 to 1919, the “changed order”of the second version was used exclusively and unopposed. The sole support for the restoration Ratz undertook is Alma’s telegram of October 1, 1919. And Alma Mahler never answered the question as to the origin of her categorical ex-cathedra decision." (Ibid., 41)

So, then, you have an editor making critical (in both senses) decisions based on his ideas of musical form, supporting it with the often-suspect (and in the case of the "Amsterdam" telegram, factually inaccurate) recollections of the composer's widow. Jerry Bruck, on the other hand, summarizes the evidence cutting in the other direction, with this fun fact being the most likely most persuasive fact, "All of Mahler’s own performances of his Sixth Symphony, without exception, had its Andante precede the Scherzo." (Ibid., 15) Listeners, then, are faced with a choice: Erwin Ratz' form-based argument, supported by nothing except Alma Mahler's recollections, or Gustav Mahler's own decisions - both in his copy of the score and in his orders to his publisher - augmented by Mahler's own performing tradition. If Mahler had intended to alter the internal movements, then it stands to reason that he would have done so in his own performances. Mahler had made the S-A to A-S correction and had the whole score republished in November 1906, at roughly the same time that the Essen premiere took place. He was convinced enough with the A-S ordering to premiere it; indeed, the S-A resurrection does not take place for another 13 years (1 October 1919, for the Amsterdam premiere by Mengelberg, despite the fact that Mahler left A-S untouched in Mengelberg's score). That is not, to my mind, part of the legitimate textual tradition - especially when the author is conducting the contradictory (A-S) version.

Now, it might sound more "right," but we have to pay more than lip service to Mahler's intent. The calm before the storm is still there in Mahler's original version (though I think that to assert any such overarching theme is to introduce a symphonic program in purely 19th Century terms, which doesn't gel as nicely with Mahler's later works as it does with the earlier ones), the storm is just longer. The "Tragic" moniker may remain, but the symphony becomes one of unremitting tragedy rather than a brief respite and then the hammer-blows coming with a shock unparalleled. I think that it is clear that Mahler changed his mind, once. After he reordered the internal movements (S-A -> A-S), he stuck with that, despite the fact that he was making other corrections. It doesn't hold water that Mahler was uncertain, especially since he had ample opportunity over five years to correct the situation. Ratz made the logical and programmatic decision about how the movements should be ordered and relied on Alma Mahler to support that. It does not make the case, though, that Gustav Mahler intended anything of the sort.

Addendum: I do realize that accepting Bruck/Kubik pretty well dashes a lot of modern performance and recording history, but - at the same time - it is likely that Mahler's second edition (A-S) reflects Mahler's own wishes, and I'll trust Gustav Mahler on the subject before I'll trust Erwin Ratz and Alma Mahler. The latter falls neatly into what Pierre Boulez would call the unlustigen Witwen (No doubt an opinion acquired from a close relationship with Frau Berg), women who appointed themselves supreme guardians of their husbands' memory and the sole oracles of what their husbands would have wanted. Frau Mahler's relationship with Herr Mahler was such, to my mind, that one might not rush to Alma to solve these problems. Indeed, her own agenda makes her a particularly unreliable source.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: Sergeant Rock on November 14, 2007, 07:53:10 AM
Addendum: I do realize that accepting Bruck/Kubik pretty well dashes a lot of modern performance and recording history, but - at the same time - it is likely that Mahler's second edition (A-S) reflects Mahler's own wishes...

At the time it was printed, sure. But years later? If Mahler's decision was indeed final, why would Mengelberg even bother to ask Alma about it? Why wouldn't the black and white evidence in front of him (the score) suffice? The only reason I can think of is because Mahler had expressed doubts about the revised order the last time he spoke to Mengelberg about the symphony. And Mengelberg had doubts too, obviously.

and I'll trust Gustav Mahler on the subject before I'll trust Erwin Ratz and Alma Mahler. The latter falls neatly into what Pierre Boulez would call the unlustigen Witwen (No doubt an opinion acquired from a close relationship with Frau Berg), women who appointed themselves supreme guardians of their husbands' memory and the sole oracles of what their husbands would have wanted. Frau Mahler's relationship with Herr Mahler was such, to my mind, that one might not rush to Alma to solve these problems. Indeed, her own agenda makes her a particularly unreliable source.

While she certainly had her own agenda, I see nothing in it for her in choosing one order of movements over the other. She was his wife. She knew his music--she must have known his wishes. I trust her on this issue. Mengelberg did. And Boulez, despite his misogynous comment, clearly does too since he performs the symphony Scherzo2/Andante 3.

You're pretty hard on Erwin Ratz. Here's part of La Grange's defense of Ratz:

"In an article published in 1992 the Austrian composer Karl Heinz Füssl, editor of several Mahler symphonies for the Critical Edition, has convincingly analysed and enumerated the 'hermeneutic and musical' reasons why the order of movements in the Ratz edition should not today be altered. In Füssl's view:

1. The Scherzo belongs after--and with--the opening Allergro because it varies and carries forward some its thematic material and could be considered an example of 'developing variation', the device defined and used by Schönberg. The order with Andante 2 would destroy the thematic and harmonic unity of the work.

2. The Scherzo uses the same keys as the first movement, A minor in the beginning and F major in the trio.

3. The key of the Andante, E flat, is the furthest removed from that of the end of the Allergro, A major, whereas the C minor beginning of the introduction to the Finale serves as transition from E flat to A minor which is the main key of the last movement.

4. A slow movement precedes the Finale in five other Mahler symphonies: 1, 2, 4, 5, and 7.

In conclusion, Füssl expresses admiration for Erwin Ratz who, at a time when the history of the various autographs and versions was still incompletely known, intuitively guessed the rightful and original order. An overwhelming majority of conductors in our time have adopted Ratz's order of movements. To my mind Mahler changed it in Essen because he was quite simply frightened by the audacity of his own original conception."



Sarge
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: PSmith08 on November 14, 2007, 08:41:29 AM
Quote
At the time it was printed, sure. But years later? If Mahler's decision was indeed final, why would Mengelberg even bother to ask Alma about it? Why wouldn't the black and white evidence in front of him (the score) suffice? The only reason I can think of is because Mahler had expressed doubts about the revised order the last time he spoke to Mengelberg about the symphony. And Mengelberg had doubts too, obviously.

I don't honestly know why Mengelberg asked Frau Mahler for advice. Mengelberg's own experience, with Mahler taking the score back to make some corrections but leaving A-S untouched, would indicate that Mahler was fine with the 'new' order. Mahler pushed his own publisher to make some expensive corrections, i.e., reprinting the score and inserting errata/corrigenda slips in back stock, and - despite the fact that he had four or five years to change his mind again - he left it the way it was. His own Essen score, which I would consider the court of first instance on making any sort of decisions about his intent, reflects A-S. While Mahler changed some other stuff, like the third hammer-blow, he did not touch A-S. There was, as pointed out in the Bruck essay, plenty of opportunity for Mahler to make the changes, especially in 1910 when he signed with Universal Edition.

Quote
While she certainly had her own agenda, I see nothing in it for her in choosing one order of movements over the other. She was his wife. She knew his music--she must have known his wishes. I trust her on this issue. Mengelberg did. And Boulez, despite his misogynous comment, clearly does too since he performs the symphony Scherzo2/Andante 3.

When her support is factually inaccurate at worst and unsupported at best, I would say that there is plenty of cause to dismiss the Alma evidence out of hand. The necessary comeback to my charge of factual inaccuracy is that it was many years after the fact that she asserted Mahler played the 6th in Amsterdam. Indeed it was. She was talking about things nearly fifteen years in the past when she wrote Mengelberg, and if she couldn't or wouldn't remember that Mahler left it as it was when he signed with UE, then how could we expect her to be a reliable source on the matter, especially when she is the only source for this change. There does not currently exist a single other textual witness for S-A, as even the Mahler tradition says A-S. 

Quote
You're pretty hard on Erwin Ratz. Here's part of La Grange's defense of Ratz:

"In an article published in 1992 the Austrian composer Karl Heinz Füssl, editor of several Mahler symphonies for the Critical Edition, has convincingly analysed and enumerated the 'hermeneutic and musical' reasons why the order of movements in the Ratz edition should not today be altered. In Füssl's view:

1. The Scherzo belongs after--and with--the opening Allergro because it varies and carries forward some its thematic material and could be considered an example of 'developing variation', the device defined and used by Schönberg. The order with Andante 2 would destroy the thematic and harmonic unity of the work.

2. The Scherzo uses the same keys as the first movement, A minor in the beginning and F major in the trio.

3. The key of the Andante, E flat, is the furthest removed from that of the end of the Allergro, A major, whereas the C minor beginning of the introduction to the Finale serves as transition from E flat to A minor which is the main key of the last movement.

4. A slow movement precedes the Finale in five other Mahler symphonies: 1, 2, 4, 5, and 7.

In conclusion, Füssl expresses admiration for Erwin Ratz who, at a time when the history of the various autographs and versions was still incompletely known, intuitively guessed the rightful and original order. An overwhelming majority of conductors in our time have adopted Ratz's order of movements. To my mind Mahler changed it in Essen because he was quite simply frightened by the audacity of his own original conception."

I don't disagree with the argument-from-form in a purely artistic sense. The 6th works very well S-A. At the same time, you can't rewrite a composer's score because his final - and I have yet to see any real evidence from Gustav Mahler, indeed, there is plenty of evidence cutting the other way, that A-S was not his final decision -  wishes don't make as much formal sense as you would like. In constructing a critical edition that would reflect the composer's final wishes, form is a consideration, but it is never the overriding principle. If the 6th is diminished because Mahler didn't construct it to a form that would be agreeable, then those are the breaks. Of course, the 6th becomes, in my mind, though I wouldn't use this to support A-S, thematically more interesting with the contrasting first two and the roughly (though this is a bit of an oversimplification) monotonous last two movements.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: MichaelRabin on November 14, 2007, 01:56:39 PM

"In an article published in 1992 the Austrian composer Karl Heinz Füssl, editor of several Mahler symphonies for the Critical Edition, has convincingly analysed and enumerated the 'hermeneutic and musical' reasons why the order of movements in the Ratz edition should not today be altered. In Füssl's view:

1. The Scherzo belongs after--and with--the opening Allegro because it varies and carries forward some its thematic material and could be considered an example of 'developing variation', the device defined and used by Schöenberg. The order with Andante 2 would destroy the thematic and harmonic unity of the work.

2. The Scherzo uses the same keys as the first movement, A minor in the beginning and F major in the trio.

3. The key of the Andante, E flat, is the furthest removed from that of the end of the Allegro, A major, whereas the C minor beginning of the introduction to the Finale serves as transition from E flat to A minor which is the main key of the last movement.

4. A slow movement precedes the Finale in 5 other Mahler symphonies: 1, 2, 4, 5, and 7.

In conclusion, Füssl expresses admiration for Erwin Ratz who, at a time when the history of the various autographs and versions was still incompletely known, intuitively guessed the rightful and original order. An overwhelming majority of conductors in our time have adopted Ratz's order of movements. To my mind Mahler changed it in Essen because he was quite simply frightened by the audacity of his own original conception."


Sarge

These are exactly my thoughts as well - it is more convincing than the A/S sequence.

What are forum posters' thoughts on the 2 or 3 hammer blows please?
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: not edward on November 14, 2007, 02:56:20 PM
What are forum posters' thoughts on the 2 or 3 hammer blows please?
Two. It's more psychologically astute for the blow that fells the hero to be the weakest of the three.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: Raymond on May 31, 2011, 07:28:55 AM
The debate goes on and conductors are still split into two camps, whatever the history of this fascinating subject. I've always been a Scherzo/Andante person because that's how I am used to hearing it most times. Musically it works better and feels better as S/A. We'll never know why Mahler changed it - but the reasons were probably not musicalogical ones. And he might well have commented on it or changed it again had he lived longer.
Just let the conductor decide.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: klingsor on May 31, 2011, 11:33:13 AM
I am used to hearing Scherzo-Andante as well. And it really sound alright to me. But I prefer Andante-Scherzo, even without knowing it was Mahler's final wish.

Hearing the Andante after the Allegro makes a very dramatic contrast and it allows the Scherzo more 'space' in the symphony (so it doesn't almost sound like an extension of the Allegro. The third movement is then followed by a slow intro to the Finale. I think it works very nicely this way. Sorry if I reiterated anybody else's thoughts in this thread, I'm too lazy to read all of it
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: Raymond on June 01, 2011, 12:26:45 AM
I added to this debate having just seen a review of a new recording of the Sixth (Saraste) by Edward Seckerson in the UK Gramophone magazine - July issue. He states "Credit to Saraste for getting the ordern right (Scherzo second). We now know that Mahler did revert to the original order where his shocking parody of the opening march actually makes sense". The important phrase is "we now know", so has anything new come to light?  But how new is "now". Can't find anything new on any Mahler society website - UK or International GM Society. And if it's not new where does ES get his confirmation from?
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: klingsor on June 01, 2011, 01:20:32 AM
From Wikipedia:

Quote
There is some controversy over the order of the two middle movements, though recent research has clarified the issue considerably. Mahler is known to have conceived the work as having the scherzo second and the slow movement third, a somewhat unclassical arrangement adumbrated in such earlier gargantuan symphonies as Beethoven's Ninth and Bruckner's Eighth and (unfinished) Ninth, as well as in Mahler's own four-movement First and Fourth. It was in this arrangement that the symphony was completed (in 1904) and published (in March 1906); and it was with a conducting score in which the scherzo preceded the slow movement that Mahler began rehearsals for the work's first performance, in May 1906. During those rehearsals, however, Mahler decided that the slow movement should precede the scherzo, and he instructed his publishers C.F. Kahnt to prepare a "second edition" of the work with the movements in that order, and meanwhile to insert errata slips indicating the change of order into all unsold copies of the existing edition. The seriousness of such a decision is not to be underestimated: as Jeffrey Gantz has pointed out, "A composer who premières his symphony Andante/Scherzo immediately after publishing it Scherzo/Andante can expect a degree of public ridicule, and [the reviewer of the first Vienna performance] didn't spare the sarcasm". Moreover, this revised, "second thoughts" ordering was observed by Mahler in every single performance he gave; it is also how the symphony was performed by others during his lifetime.

The first occasion on which the abandoned, original movement order was reverted to seems to have been in 1919, after Alma had sent a telegram to Willem Mengelberg which said "First Scherzo, then Andante". Mengelberg, who had been in close touch with Mahler until the latter's death, and had happily conducted the symphony in the "Andante/Scherzo" arrangement right up to 1916, then switched to the "Scherzo/Andante" order. In this he seems to have been alone: other conductors, such as Oskar Fried and Dimitri Mitropoulos, continued to perform (and eventually record) the work as 'Andante/Scherzo', per Mahler's own second edition, right up to the early 1960s.

In 1963, however, Erwin Ratz's "Critical Edition" of the Sixth appeared, and in this the Scherzo preceded the Andante. Ratz, however, never offered any support (he did not even cite Alma's telegram) for his assertion that Mahler "changed his mind a second time" at some point before his death; but his editorial decision was questioned by few musicians—and even those who did not accept his "third thoughts" ordering (such as Barbirolli in his acclaimed 1967 recording) could find that their 'Andante/Scherzo' performance would be changed by the record company to "Scherzo/Andante" so as to make their recording agree with the "Critical Edition". The utter lack of documentary or other evidence in support of Ratz's (and Alma's) reverted ordering has caused the most recent Critical Edition to restore the Andante/Scherzo order; however, many conductors continue to perform the Scherzo before the Andante. The matter remains hotly debated, however.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: not edward on June 01, 2011, 04:51:16 AM
Saying that one or other is 100% correct is futile to me. It's quite clear this is one of those arguments that'll never be fully resolved, since no matter how conclusive the evidence might seem for Andante-Scherzo, there's no way to disprove the contention that Mahler doubted this.

My own view is that Andante-Scherzo seems in many regards more structurally effective, but Scherzo-Andante is more psychologically effective for me as a listener, for two reasons: firstly the obvious one about the andante being in a distant key and providing a drop in tension before the half-hour finale wrenches the listener back to the dominant mood of the work; secondly because the scherzo functions very effectively as a partial negation or at least a darkened variant of the opening movement.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: eyeresist on June 01, 2011, 06:26:11 PM
We'll never know why Mahler changed it - but the reasons were probably not musicalogical ones.

I really doubt that's true.

For myself, like Klingsor I thought S/A sounded wrong before I even knew of the controversy. Also note that the arguments for scherzo first are nearly identical to some of the arguments against it! (i.e. it's in the same key and sounds like a direct continuation of the material)  I will admit that I find neither solution completely satisfactory; it's a problem inherent to the symphony's construction.

Fussl's remark that the finale begins in C min is incorrect - the first note is C, but it is part of a A flat chord (dim maj?). A flat is quite remote from the E flat of the andante. OTOH, it is one semitone down from A min (first mvt & scherzo, though arguably they both end in A maj), and shares the same third (the C) thus smoothly transitioning from minor to major. I don't know how Fussl, a composer, could advocate such an error in good conscience.

Edward Seckerson seems to be continuing Erwin Ratz's policy of lying for what he believes to be a good cause.
 


Edit: Corrected, as I somehow confused Ab and G# to make Gb!
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: Raymond on June 01, 2011, 10:14:21 PM
A friend asked reviewer Edward Seckerson about the matter, and he replied that, no it wasn't really that new and that he got the information from de la Grange who claims Mahler returned to S/A

Anyway, a few further thoughts:
Facts: Mahler wrote the work as S/A; he subsequently changed his mind; it's not known why ( was it entirely his own decision or was he pursuaded by somebody?); we can never know whether, had he lived longer he might have changed back when reflecting upon his works.

Possible speculative reasons he changed the order. There could be others and none, one or more of these could have validity:
1. He wanted to give orchestral players a respite after the first movement...
2. He was in deference to the more traditional order of the symphony with the quick movement third...
3. He was thinking of the listeners - would it be just to much for them to follow that first movement with the almost equally hard-hitting Scherzo?...
4. He wanted to encourage the performance and acceptance of the work in the wider world...
5. We know Mahler was superstitious about writing a ninth symphony. He could also have been superstitious over the Sixth. It is generally commented that the Sixth was prophetic of three tragedies which were to befall him. Given the increasing knowledge now of the quantum world where space and time are not what they seem to be, he could have been subsconsciously aware of those tragedies - but not there actual manifestations - and so decided to try to mitigate them by reducing the three hammer blows to two and reversing the middle movements in a rather futile attempt to make it a bit less 'tragic' overall...

Ethically, conductors should choose A/S unless or until some new information appears. However, it might be that to respect  Mahler's inner life and the probable fact that, in his heart, his first thoughts were the wise ones, (and, as I see, from the point of view of key relationships also),then they might be equally wise to choose S/A. There is therefore one solution - play it (and hear it) both ways according to your feelings at any one time.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: eyeresist on June 01, 2011, 10:45:19 PM

I am disappointed that you have not addressed my comments on the issue of key relationships.

A friend asked reviewer Edward Seckerson about the matter, and he replied that, no it wasn't really that new and that he got the information from de la Grange who claims Mahler returned to S/A

Hmmm. De la Grange's Vienna: Triumph and Disillusion, 1904-1907 was published in 2000, while Jerry Bruck's paper The Correct Movement Order in Mahler's Sixth Symphony was published in 2004. So De la Grange is certainly not "new" in that respect.

Mahlerfest's notes on the 6th query some of his assertions:

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Henry-Louis de La Grange states that this subtitle ["Tragische"] first turned up on the program for the performance that Mahler conducted, on November 8, 1906, in Munich, but there is no sign of it on the reproduction of that program that Bruck provides.

Henry-Louis de La Grange concludes that Mahler and Mengelberg "probably" discussed the matter [of inner movement order] in October of 1909, when Mengelberg conducted Mahler's Seventh. In "Undoing a 'Tragic' Mistake," however, Jerry Bruck points out that in a letter postmarked July 6, 1909, Mahler "asked Mengelberg to send him his score of the Sixth, presumably so that Mahler could enter some further changes. Mengelberg's conducting score shows Mahler's last known changes to the Sixth, neatly entered in red ink." These changes do not include reverting to the Scherzo/Andante order of movements.

http://www.mahlerfest.org/mfXVI/notes_myth_reality.htm

BTW, according to this article, the original manuscript score shows five hammer blows!

Does anyone have a source for Mahler's much touted superstition about writing a 9th symphony? I can't find anything online.
 
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: Raymond on June 01, 2011, 11:09:03 PM
Apologies - for not addressing your comments on the key relationships but I will have to study the score on this again. I'm not
denying your own comments on...
It's generally known of course from the literature, biographies etc, that Mahler was superstitious about Ninth symphonies being a composer's final one and so on. Whether there is any superstition about the Sixth is another matter and I only aired this point as a possibility. But if there was then it could be one reason for his changes.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: mc ukrneal on June 01, 2011, 11:14:15 PM
Does anyone have a source for Mahler's much touted superstition about writing a 9th symphony? I can't find anything online.
How about Wikipedia and the curse of the ninth (a whole entry on just that!): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curse_of_the_ninth (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curse_of_the_ninth)

EDIT: And another - more detailed and interesting stories: http://www.mahlerfest.org/mfXVIII/notes_musings.htm (http://www.mahlerfest.org/mfXVIII/notes_musings.htm)
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: eyeresist on June 01, 2011, 11:30:03 PM
Apologies - for not addressing your comments on the key relationships but I will have to study the score on this again. I'm not
denying your own comments on...
It's generally known of course from the literature, biographies etc, that Mahler was superstitious about Ninth symphonies being a composer's final one and so on. Whether there is any superstition about the Sixth is another matter and I only aired this point as a possibility. But if there was then it could be one reason for his changes.

You don't necessarily need the score, if you have a recording and a musical instrument on hand :)

I don't know about "It is generally known of course"...  I distrust conventional wisdom. I did find a couple of quotes from Alma on the subject, but she is notoriously unreliable (see 'The Alma Problem' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alma_Problem)). What I want is either something Mahler wrote himself, or the report of someone other than Alma.
 
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: springrite on June 01, 2011, 11:57:21 PM
Play the symphony (symphonies) in question using "random play". After a few times, one of the orders might make more sense to you.

Well, that is what Kimi did with #3. Amazing how it works with the children's chorus starting the symphony!
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: eyeresist on June 02, 2011, 04:35:49 PM
And another - more detailed and interesting stories: http://www.mahlerfest.org/mfXVIII/notes_musings.htm (http://www.mahlerfest.org/mfXVIII/notes_musings.htm)

Something weird going on here. My post appeared directly after Raymond's, and then yours appeared between us later on!
 
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: mc ukrneal on June 03, 2011, 02:34:55 AM
Something weird going on here. My post appeared directly after Raymond's, and then yours appeared between us later on!
How rude I was to chisel in!  :D  That is odd though. I have no idea why that might have happened.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: lisa needs braces on June 04, 2011, 03:03:17 AM
It probably doesn't matter. It'll sound bland either way.

Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: eyeresist on June 05, 2011, 04:18:02 PM
Yeah, that's right, bland old Mahler. The Telemann of his day!
 
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: jochanaan on June 07, 2011, 07:55:36 AM
Yeah, that's right, bland old Mahler. The Telemann of his day!
I had a notion to write a similarly sharp comment--but then I got another notion: to give the previous comment exactly the attention it deserves. :)
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: eyeresist on August 18, 2011, 09:34:15 PM
I wonder if any accomplished musical theorists could clear this up for me:

The finale of Mahler's 6th begins in C minor. The score (http://imslp.org/wiki/Symphony_No.6_(Mahler,_Gustav)) verifies this. So why does it certainly sound like eight bars of A flat major? Was the classicist in Mahler unable to mark the score up that way?
 
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: LKB on May 31, 2021, 06:50:56 AM
The eight bars of Ab basically function as an augmented-sixth chord within C minor. It doesn't sound that way because of the subsequent interruption of the A Major/minor motif from the first movement, but within the key of C minor, that's how it work's theoretically.

( l know... it's over nine years since the question was posted, but what the hey, someone else in Mahlerland may be wondering. )

 :-\,

LKB
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: Mirror Image on May 31, 2021, 08:08:30 AM
I’m of the Scherzo then Andante school of thought. It just makes more sense to me as a listener. The other way around makes the Andante sound out-of-place to me, because typically a slow movement that comes earlier in a symphony of this size gives it a top-heavy structural feel. Of course, there are exceptions and I’m sure I could think of many at the current moment, but, anyway, I just prefer the Scherzo first.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: OrchestralNut on May 31, 2021, 08:26:03 AM
I’m of the Scherzo then Andante school of thought. It just makes more sense to me as a listener. The other way around makes the Andante sound out-of-place to me, because typically a slow movement that comes earlier in a symphony of this size gives it a top-heavy structural feel. Of course, there are exceptions and I’m sure I could think of many at the current moment, but, anyway, I just prefer the Scherzo first.

Ditto. Scherzo/Andante all day long. Need the uplifting Andante as a reprieve before that massive and dramatic finale.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: André on May 31, 2021, 09:06:25 AM
Ditto. Scherzo/Andante all day long. Need the uplifting Andante as a reprieve before that massive and dramatic finale.

That, and also the fact that the huge coda of I hasn’t exhausted the movement’s energy yet. Following it with the scherzo helps dissipate it and reset the emotional meter. Then the andante completes the process. I see it as a more logical progression.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: LKB on May 31, 2021, 03:38:48 PM
I think it's " easier on the ear " ( regarding tonal relationships ) having the Scherzo second. And I'd agree that the Adagio, with its gentle E b resolution, serves well as an emotional deep breath before plunging into the maelstrom of the Finale.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: Raymond on July 08, 2021, 05:55:58 AM
It's been a long time since I contributed to this discussion on the order of movements on Mahler's 6th. I forgot about it and also was involved in various other online - and offline - activities. Anyway, a recap maybe: An increasing number of conductors in recent years have chosen A/S (Andante/Scherzo) but S/A is better from the point of view of key relationships. And as the poll on this site suggests it actually sounds better that way for most listeners. The fact is that Mahler wrote and published the work with S/A. He took that score to the rehearsals for the first performance. During that time something happened...Mahler developed a severely troubled mental state, as witnessed by his friends, and he became uncertain as to how the work would go down with audiences. So what could he do to change it - it was unusual to have two quickish movements together. And it was a severly tragic work. Could they take it, etc.etc. He reduced the hammer blows in the finale from three to two (originally there were five), to see if that would help, perhaps.  So A/S was something of an impulsive afterthought. He then had the work republished with A/S. In his lifetime there were only one or two performances. The conductor Mendeleburg actually discussed the symphony with Mahler in 1907or 8 in advance of a possible performance in Amsterdam, but in the end he chose the 7th Symphony. Yet in 1920 when Mengelburg was producing a cycle of the Mahler symphonies he had always remained uncertain about the order of the movements! So he contacted Alma Mahler to ask her. She immediately replied with "First Sherzo, then Andante" and seemed quite certain. Commentators are often quick to jump in and remark that Alma often got facts wrong. This was true but not all the time! And how could anybody possible know what Mahler had discussed with her in private during the years remaining to him after the 6th was premiered? In any case he was always changing his mind and altering his music in one way or another.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: amw on July 08, 2021, 02:26:21 PM
Andante-Scherzo is the correct order from a musicological perspective; there is no evidence to support that Mahler changed his mind and reverted to Scherzo-Andante at any later point. If he was confident enough in his change to have a completely new score published with the new movement order, and to perform it that way every time, we can't gainsay him. I find the idea that Gustav Mahler was too superstitious or mentally ill or cowardly to present the work exactly as he had envisioned it, or to be capable of correct judgment, to be fairly offensive, speaking as both a composer and a person of clinical depression. (I also don't think there is any evidence to suggest that the changes were made specifically to please the audience. An 80 minute symphony without an intermission is going to be a difficult prospect for a premiere audience regardless of movement order.)

That said, the existence of both versions does allow us to speak of a "1904 version" and a "1909 version" (incorporating also all of the orchestrational changes Mahler made during the rehearsal process and codified in Mengelberg's copy of the score). If conductors intend to perform the piece in Scherzo-Andante order they should also then restore the orchestration of the first edition/autograph (which goes far beyond simply adding extra hammer blows; dynamics and instrumentation are often wildly different).

I don't have strong feelings on issues of key relations, or tension/relaxation curves, etc, and don't think those things are particularly relevant to why most people prefer Scherzo-Andante; I think most people prefer Scherzo-Andante because they were first exposed to the piece in recordings using that order (Bernstein, Karajan, etc) and imprinted on it. This also seems to apply to musicologists, who have come up with plenty of ex post facto justifications for why Scherzo-Andante is best, even though all these justifications can be equally repurposed to favour Andante-Scherzo. ("The Scherzo's A minor immediately negates the A major of the end of the first movement, and that's why it's good/bad", etc.) The only evidence that should really be considered is something along the lines of a letter, telegram, e-mail, Instagram story, etc from Mahler saying "you know, I'm really unsure of this change in movement order, maybe I should change it back sometime" or whatever.

People can, of course, have preferences, and preferences can change, and I am sure there are some people out there who first heard the work in Andante-Scherzo order and then decided they preferred it the other way round (or vice versa). I think both ways of performing the piece work, to various degrees, and have my own musicological hypotheses about why Mahler changed the movement order. But that should not be relevant to attempts to determine Mahler's final thoughts on the piece, which as far as I know, are clear.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: Raymond on July 08, 2021, 10:35:55 PM
Thank you. Perhaps I was a bit harsh in commenting on Mahler's mental state during the rehearsals for the first performance of the 6th, yet from witnesses and friends all was not well with the work, nor himself, and he did wonder about its reception. Making the change during rehearsal does seem a more impulsive reason for the change than any careful reconsideration. My comments about the order of movements stem from an intelligent outline given by Henri-Louis de La Grange in his monumental biography of Mahler. True, there is no evidence of Mahler changing his mind again. If he did he left the matter aside. After all, it would have made himself look rather silly to have changed back again. The question of Alma Mahler's answer to Mengelberg of course cannot be solved, but it seems as if it has depended upon one's attitude to Alma herself. But Mengelburg followed her advice. In order to ask her the question he must have spent the intervening years wondering about the order of the movements as obviously he wasn't sure. The best way is to treat, play and conduct the symphony from one's personal view and feeling. I think both ways are equally valid. Mahler may well have had a similar view. Who knows? One conductor, taking the symphony on a tour, alternated the movements with each concert. His was a sensible attitude I believe.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: Biffo on July 09, 2021, 12:56:56 AM
Mahler's state of mind at the first performance is irrelevant. He actually made the changes to the score several weeks later. He didn't 'superstitiously'  cross out the third hammer blow (as one set of sleeve notes has it). He removed the hammer blow and rescored the whole passage. He always performed the work in public in the order Andante-Scherzo.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: amw on July 09, 2021, 02:04:36 AM
Perhaps I was a bit harsh in commenting on Mahler's mental state during the rehearsals for the first performance of the 6th
Oh I didn't mean to come down on you specifically—this is something I see a lot, about a number of composers, including in several other places in this thread. (The whole thing about the symphony "predicting" the various tragedies in his life for example; the evidence that Gustav actually believed this comes mostly from Alma, who did tend to present her husband's life in terms that are.... somewhat sensationalised, and in places outright fabricated.)

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he did wonder about its reception.
He was correct to do so, since he expected the critics to be hostile to the work, which they were. Perhaps he may have even been stressed because he wished to change the movement order but knew his artistic opponents would mock him for doing so (as they did). Worrying about critical reception, though, is not uncommon for composers; nor is making changes only during rehearsal when one actually has a chance to hear the work rather than simply imagine it. In rehearsals I've made changes ranging from orchestration and dynamics, to composing an entirely new movement for a piece because the one being rehearsed didn't work.

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The best way is to treat, play and conduct the symphony from one's personal view and feeling. I think both ways are equally valid. Mahler may well have had a similar view. Who knows? One conductor, taking the symphony on a tour, alternated the movements with each concert. His was a sensible attitude I believe.
I agree with basically all of this—I don't know if Mahler necessarily would have agreed, but in a very real sense, the symphony stopped being his to control once it was released into the world. His intentions may help clarify ours, but we shouldn't be completely bound by them.
Title: Re: Mahler's Sixth Symphony - Scherzo then Andante ... or the reverse?
Post by: krummholz on July 12, 2021, 08:32:40 AM
Interesting discussion.

I was first exposed to the work via the Bernstein/NY Phil recording from the 1960s and so naturally was "imprinted" on the S/A order. (I don't think Bernstein ever performed the work the other way, did he?) And I have to say that to this day, I think S/A makes more sense and is structurally better, for two reasons:

1) The length of the Finale - the Finale is better balanced by having the Allegro and Scherzo "paired" together, with the span of the Andante separating the two parts, than by pitting the Allegro against the Scherzo and Finale heard consecutively. The symphony in the A/S order seems too unbalanced with too much weight in the second part.

2) The key relationships - in the order S/A, Mahler jumps between A minor and E-flat once and only once. Going from the Andante to the Finale, he returns to A minor by way of C Minor, the relative minor of E-flat. Also, because A major/minor hasn't been heard since 2/3 of the way through the Andante, the "fate" motto (A major dissolving into minor) at the opening of the Finale really comes out of left field, tonally speaking. Far more effective than if the Finale follows the A minor Scherzo directly.

But... I haven't listened to the symphony in that order in several years now, ever since the Bruck paper was published. Musicologically, I don't think there is any room for doubt that Mahler changed his mind once and only once, and that the A/S order represents his final intentions for the symphony. I don't consider Alma's word reliable - especially since she never revealed what her basis for that pronouncement was - and it may very well have been nothing more than her preference. It's a valid preference - it's the way she first heard the work, played to her on the piano by Gustav himself at Maiernigg, and it's evidently the way Mahler first conceived the work. It's my personal preference too, by far. But alas, it's not what Mahler ultimately decided the order should be.

And that, for me, settles the issue... pending any further evidence that emerges in the future.