Readers of my blog know my fascination with Mahler's music. It started long time ago, with Zubin Mehta and Israel Philharmonic Orchestra performance of Mahler's VII symphony during the first "Festival of Four Cultures" in Lodz, Poland. This time I return to Bernstein's recording of Mahler's Third with Wiener Philharmoniker. Mahler's 3rd is the longest of all his symphonies, and one of the most beautiful. Mahler tried to provide some interpretation for this symphony, and it has a form of "messages" that we might receive: from Mythological God Pan, From Summer, from flowers on the meadow, from animals, Man, Angels and Love....
However, the sung parts of the Symphony, IV and V have amazing texts (corresponding to the messages from Man and Angels). Message from Man uses famous part of Nietzsche, "Thus spoke Zaratustra" called Zarathustra'a Roundeley, while The Message from Angels uses anonymous folk song, part of "The Youth's Magic Horn". Seemingly primitive text about St. Peter's sin and his redemption is surprising after deep and dark Nietzsche strophe. But when you dig deeper you find that all this is about the yearning for etehrnity, about fundamental discord with death, with vanishing life ...
Musically, the best are first and last part (at least to me). You will find a lot of amazing and surprising moments there. But you must immerse yourself into the music to enjoy it.
For me the most amazing was the imitation of bell sounds, first by a boy choir in V part, singing literally Bim-Bam, Bim-Bom and later, the same imitation played by big drums (timpani) in the VI part - finale.
I also found fantastic article about Bernstein Mahler's fascinations.
The article cites Bernstein saying: "There's no way to play three bars of Mahler without giving your all. (...) Every pianissimo is as intense as every forte. . . . Everything has to be done at full intensity."
You can here this words in the bonus to 3rd Symphony in this recording (Leonard Bernstein: The Mahler Symphonies (DVD))