Verklärte Nacht (or Transfigured Night), Op. 4, is a string sextet in one movement composed by Arnold Schoenberg in 1899 and his earliest important work. Composed in just three weeks, the work was inspired by Richard Dehmel's poem of the same name, along with Schoenberg's strong feelings upon meeting Mathilde von Zemlinsky (the sister of his teacher Alexander von Zemlinsky) whom he would later marry.
Dehmel's poem describes a man and a woman walking through a dark forest on a moonlit night, wherein the woman shares a dark secret with her new lover: she bears the child of another man. The stages of Dehmel's poem are reflected throughout the composition, beginning with the sadness of the woman's confession, a neutral interlude wherein the man reflects upon the confession, and a finale which reflects the man's bright acceptance (and forgiveness) of the woman: O sieh, wie klar das Weltall schimmert! Es ist ein Glanz um Alles her (see how brightly the universe gleams! There is a radiance on everything).
Schoenberg, the 20th-century revolutionary and later inventor of the twelve tone technique, is perhaps best-known among lay audiences for this early tonal work (Hayakawa 2006; Wein 2006). The piece derives its stylistic lineage from German late-Romanticism. Like his teacher Zemlinsky, Schoenberg was influenced by both Johannes Brahms and Richard Wagner and sought to combine the former's structural logic with the latter's harmonic language, evidenced in the work's rich chromaticism (deriving from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde) and frequent use of musical phrases which serve to undermine the metrical boundaries.
The work comprises five sections which correspond to the structure of the poem on which it is based, with themes in each section being direct musical metaphors for the narrative and discourse found in the poem. As such, the piece is one of the earliest examples of program music written for a chamber ensemble.
The original score calls for two violins, two violas and two cellos. In 1917, Schoenberg produced an arrangement for string orchestra (a common practice at the time), and revised this version in 1943. There is also a version for piano trio by Eduard Steuermann. The string orchestra version is the one most often recorded and performed. The work has also served as the basis for several ballets. (Wikipedia)
Schoenberg/Glass - The Glass Chamber Players
The Glass Chamber Players perform two works for their debut recording, Schoenberg's ultra-Romantic Transfigured Night, and Glass' Symphony No.3 transcribed for String Sextet
Korngold: String Sextet; Schoenberg: Verklärte Nacht
The playing of The Raphael Ensemble is wonderfully polished, and the account these young musicians deliver has lots of voltage behind it. The opening is extremely atmospheric--hauntingly stark and subdued--but the climactic pages that come later in the piece have rarely been as intensely presented. Hyperion's 1990 recording is outstanding, and the coupling, Korngold's excellent D-major sextet, receives a marvelous performance from the group that rediscovered it.
1. String Sextet In D Major, Op. 10: Moderato - Allegro
2. String Sextet In D Major, Op. 10: Adagio
3. String Sextet In D Major, Op. 10: Intermezzo (Moderato, con grazia)
4. String Sextet In D Major, Op. 10: Finale (Presto)
5. Verklarte Nacht, Op. 4: Verklarte Nacht, Op. 4 (Part 1)
6. Verklarte Nacht, Op. 4: Verklarte Nacht, Op. 4 (Part 2)
7. Verklarte Nacht, Op. 4: Verklarte Nacht, Op. 4 (Part 3)
8. Verklarte Nacht, Op. 4: Verklarte Nacht, Op. 4 (Part 4)
9. Verklarte Nacht, Op. 4: Verklarte Nacht, Op. 4 (Part 5)
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