ARNOLD SCHOENBERG: Transfigured Night; Chamber Symphony Op. 9

by | May 17, 2005 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

ARNOLD SCHOENBERG: Transfigured Night; Chamber Symphony Op. 9 –
Bavarian State Orchestra/Zubin Mehta – Farao Classics multichannel SACD
S 108 044, 54:15 ****:

Originally written
for a sextet of two viiolins, two violas and two cellos, Verklärte
Nacht was arranged by the composer for string orchestra in l943. It is
a highly chromatic but still tonal work created before Schoenberg
developed his 12-tone system of composition. A translation of the
Richard Dehmel poem on which the instrumental work is based appears in
the note booklet in three languages. It concerns a young couple in love
walking in the moonlite woods. The woman confesses to the man that she
is pregnant but not by him. The man then speaks and tells her not to
let that burden her soul – that he accepts her regardless. This point
is marked in the score with a glorious transition from minor to major
as though the moon comes out from behind a cloud.

The Chamber Symphony is still tonal but stretching the tonal system
about as far as it could go. Written for only 15 instruments, it was
composed by Schoenberg at the same time Mahler was working on his
Symphony of a Thousand – his Eighth. Schoenberg wanted to divorce
himself from ornamentation, and he kept his symphony to the bare
essentials. The work is under 22 minutes length. Excellent playing on
both selections; the strings on the Transfigured Night are silky
natural-sounding even on peaks that often get harsh with 44.1
reproduction. The surround channels are used minimally.

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