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Schoenberg: String Quartet Transfigured Night

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Audio CD, July 1, 1997
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Editorial Reviews

Transfigured Night was originally composed for string sextet, but it has since become popular in the composer's arrangement for full string orchestra. Since the Second String Quartet was also arranged by the composer in a similar fashion, it's amazing that no one has had the idea to couple the two works together before now. Salonen is, along with Pierre Boulez, the most persuasive advocate of contemporary music on the podium today. He secures playing of really amazing precision and confidence from his string orchestra, and he paces each work perfectly. This is Schoenberg for people who think they don't like Schoenberg. --David Hurwitz

1. Verklarte Nacht, Op. 4: Verklarte Nacht, Op. 4 Prelude: Grave
2. Verklarte Nacht, Op. 4: Bar 100: Molto Rallentando (Woman)
3. Verklarte Nacht, Op. 4: Bar 201: Pesante-Grave (Interlude)
4. Verklarte Nacht, Op. 4: Bar 229: Adagio (Man)
5. Verklarte Nacht, Op. 4: Bar 370: Adagio (Postlude)
6. String Quartet No. 2, Op. 10: Massig (moderato)
7. String Quartet No. 2, Op. 10: Sehr rasch (Scherzo)
8. String Quartet No. 2, Op. 10: Litanei Langsam
9. String Quartet No. 2, Op. 10: Entruckun. Sehr Langsam

Product Details

  • Performer: Stockholm Chamber Orchestra
  • Composer: Arnold Schoenberg
  • Audio CD (July 1, 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Records
  • ASIN: B0000029TV
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,907 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By ewomack VINE VOICE on January 5, 2005
For those who associate the name Arnold Schoenberg with squealing, squeaky, tooth cracking, ear boxing dissonance, "Verklärte Nacht" will come as a massive surprise. The piece owes more to Brahms, Strauss, or Wagner than to any twelve tone scale. Simply put, it plays beautifully from start to finish. The subtle dissonance employed no longer rankles the modern ear, but the piece once inspired fierce brickbats. It premiered in 1902 as a sextet, and the music as well as its inspiration produced disgust in some of the audience. A poem about a woman carrying an illegitimate child who just confesses to her lover that it's not his inspired this work. In 1902 such themes could cause gasps of shock. On top of that, the music stretched the limits of dissonance for the era. Schoenberg outdid Wagner on chromaticism in places, and the harmonies likely sounded a little too new and adventurous to harmonically sensitive early twentieth century cochleas. It marked the beginning of a long strech of unpopularity for Schoenberg. Some think he reveled in his notoriety. Regardless, today "Verklärte Nacht" sounds harmonious and beautiful. It has attained the almost oxymoronic status of "Schoenberg's most popular piece". No mean feat. The version on this CD is based on the 1943 revisions Schoenberg made to the 1917 score for string orchestra. Listening to it proves just how drastically musical tastes have changed. How could such a beautiful piece inspire such a backlash nearly a century ago?

Not content with being merely unpopular, Schoenberg then wrote a piece some referred to as "scandalous". Where "Verklärte Nacht" produced gasps, the String Quartet No. 2 produced riots.
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