There’s a scene in David Lynch’s eerie masterpiece, Mulholland Drive, in which the entire film turns and becomes a distorted mirror image of itself. I had a friend who saw the Cannes Festival screening of it, and because it was late in the festival and she’d already seen dozens of movies, she nodded off for just a moment. When she woke up, she thought another movie had started.
The third movement of Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 is like that. It was actually the first movement he composed of the entire work, and it’s incredible to imagine how Mahler could produce a beginning and an ending from this two-hearted center. In Mahler 5 doors open, doors close and then re-open. “How did we get here?” I asked myself often while listening to recordings of the work.
During the St. Louis Symphony performances of Mahler’s Fifth this weekend, you’ll be wide awake. With David Robertson conducting, it’s an exhilarating ride.