As I was recently rediscovering the Seventh Symphony, I decided that I
like the outer movements much better than the inner three -- which strike
me as a trivial and self-indulgent. As great as the sixth is, I feel
that Mahler built upon his experience from the first movement of the
Sixth to produce something better in the Seventh. Of all of his first
movements, these are the most similar. For example, the Seventh has its
"Alma" theme, and a rousing finish, just like the Sixth. I used to
dismiss the last movement of the Seventh as disjointed and rambling.
Now it all makes sense, and strikes me as one of his most ingenious
Listening to the Seventh, I was reminded of another Mahler Symphony which
I feel contains both his best and worst work: the Third. I find the
outer movements to be inferior Mahler, and the inner movements, especially
2 & 3, to be Mahler at his best.
So why not mix & match? One of these days, when I have a lot of time
to listen to a whole Mahler Symphony, I'm going to start with the first
movement of the Seventh, followed by the second and third movements of
the Third, and ending with the last movement of the Seventh. (Hopefully
the keys, by a very lucky coincidence, will be compatible.)
Actually the Third and the Seventh are pretty similar. I think of them
as "kindred" symphonies. Perhaps between the two of them, is Mahler's
Now, how crazy is that?