Transfigured Night for the New World Symphony,
by LAWRENCE BUDMEN
In 1899 the 24 year old Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) wrote a string sextet -- Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night), Op 4 -- that expanded musical romanticism to breaking point. Taking the ultra heated passion of Wagner's Tristan and Isolde to another level, Schoenberg penned a swan song for the 19th century and the musical movement that had defined the era. (Schoenberg's dramatic oratorio Gurrelieder would repeat that elegy in expanded form. The composer would then devote his compositional energies to the creation of atonality -- a musical movement that remains controversial to this day.) In 1943 Schoenberg transformed his impassioned opus into a work for string orchestra. The New World Symphony gave an intense performance of this musical landmark under guest conductor Edwin Outwater on 17 September 2005 at the Lincoln Theater in Miami Beach, Florida, USA.
For sheer beauty and overwhelming emotion, Schoenberg's masterpiece remains in a class of its own. The music seems to glide on wings of spontaneous inspiration. The glistening string textures give this score its own unique sound world and cultural patina. The New World players' impressive performance was the highlight of the group's first concerts of the season. After a week of coaching sessions with the principal players of the Cleveland Orchestra, the musicians of this unique educational orchestral academy were in fine fettle. The beautiful, rich voiced string playing and ruminative inner glow of this performance was truly inspired. Outstanding solo work by first chair violin, viola, and cello players highlighted a superb ensemble performance. The overwhelming emotion and passion of this score -- bordering on frenzy -- was vividly conveyed.
Copyright © 10 October 2005
Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA