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TRANSFIGURED NIGHT 

Verklarte Nacht (Transfigured Night)

op. 4 (1899) for string sextet (30”)

Instrumentation: two violins, two violas, two cellos

Transfigured night was composed in 1899, shortly after the composer met Mathilde von Zemlisnky, the woman who he would later marry. The work is inspired by love and passion, and is representative of Schoenberg’s early style. The sextet is in a one-movement form, and divided into five distinct sections. It is inspired by Richard Dehmel’s poem of the same name, and tells the story of a man and woman walking through a dark forest at night. The woman shares a dark secret with her new lover: she bears the child of another man. 

 

Performers:

 

Veronique Mathieu, violin  - Canada

Mandy Wang, violin - China

Anna Sorokina, viola  - Russia

Shah Sadikov, viola - Uzbekistan 

Daniel Veis, cello - Czeck Republic

Sunnat Ibrahim, cello - Uzbekistan 

Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951)

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

Pierrot Lunaire,

op. 21 (1912) for speaking voice (Sprechstimme) and mixed ensemble (40”)  

 

Instrumentation: speaking voice (Sprechstimme), Piano, Flute (+ Piccolo), Clarinet (+ Bass Clarinet), Violin (+ Viola) and Cello


 

Pierrot Lunaire is a melodrama built on 21 poems by French poet Albert Giraud. The work is performed in three parts: each part features seven poems. The text is sung by a soprano in a very unusual way that combines singing and speaking. 

Performers:

Liz Pearse, soprano - USA

Sophie Patey, piano - France/Germany

Hilary Shepard, flute - USA

Veronique Mathieu, violin  - Canada

Hannah Collins, Cello  -  USA

Shah Sadikov, conductor - Uzbekistan 

Following is a translation of Dehmel’s poem 

Verklärte Nacht by Stanley Appelbaum.

 

Two people walk through a bare, cold grove;
The moon races along with them, they look into it. 
The moon races over tall oaks, 
No cloud obscures the light from the sky, 
Into which the black points of the boughs reach. 
A woman’s voice speaks: 

I’m carrying a child, and not yours, 
I walk in sin beside you. 
I have committed a great offense against myself. 
I no longer believed I could be happy
And yet I had a strong yearning
For something to fill my life, for the joys of Motherhood
And for duty; so I committed an effrontery, 
So, shuddering, I allowed my sex
To be embraced by a strange man, 
And, on top of that, I blessed myself for it. 
Now life has taken its revenge: 
Now I have met you, oh, you.

She walks with a clumsy gait, 
She looks up; the moon is racing along. 
Her dark gaze is drowned in light. 
A man’s voice speaks: 

May the child you conceived
Be no burden to your soul; 
Just see how brightly the universe is gleaming! 
There’s a glow around everything; 
You are floating with me on a cold ocean, 
But a special warmth flickers
From you into me, from me into you. 
It will transfigure the strange man’s child. 
You will bear the child for me, as if it were mine; 
You have brought the glow into me, 
You have made me like a child myself.

He grasps her around her ample hips. 
Their breath kisses in the breeze. 
Two people walk through the lofty, bright night.

INTERMISSION 

Three Times Seven Poems by Albert Giraud

German Translation from the French by Otto Erich Hartleben

(Translation from German to English, copyright © by Mimmi Fulmer and Ric Merritt)

I | Mondestrunken (Moondrunk)

The wine we drink through the eyes

The moon pours down at night in waves,

And a flood tide overflows

The silent horizon.

 

Longings beyond number, gruesome sweet frissons,

Swim through the flood.

The wine we drink through the eyes

The moon pours down at night in waves.

 

The poet, slave to devotion,

Drunk on the sacred liquor,

Enraptured, turns his face to Heaven

And staggering sucks and slurps

The wine we drink through the eyes.

II | Columbine 

The moonlight’s pale blossoms,

The white wonder-roses,

Bloom in July nights –

O could I pluck but one!

 

To soothe my deepest sorrow,

Through darkening streams I seek

The moonlight’s pale blossoms,

The white wonder-roses.

 

All my longings would be satisfied, Dared I as gently As a fairy sprite – to scatter Over your brown tresses The moonlight’s pale blossoms.

III | Der Dandy (The Dandy)

With a ghostly light ray

The moon illumines the crystal flasks Upon the dark altar-the holy Washbasin

Of the taciturn Dandy from Bergamo.

In the resonant bronze basin

The fountains laugh a metallic clangor. With a ghostly light ray

The moon illumines the crystal flasks.

Pierrot with waxen complexion

Stands deep in thought:

What makeup for today?

He shoves aside the red and oriental green

And paints his face in sublime style

With a ghostly light ray

IV | Eine blasse Wäscherin (A Pale Washerwoman)

A pale washerwoman

Washes faded garments at nighttime.

Naked, silver-white arms

She stretches down into the flood.

Breezes tiptoe through the clearing, Lightly ruffle the stream.

A pale washerwoman

Washes faded garments at nighttime.

And the gentle maid of heaven,

Softly fondled by the boughs,

Spreads her linen spun from moonbeams Across the dusky meadows –

A pale washerwoman.

V | Valse de Chopin (Chopin Waltz)

 

As a bleached drop of blood

Stains a sufferer’s lips,

So lurks within this music

The lure of annihilation.

 

In untamed strains the chords disorder Despair’s icy dream –

As a bleached drop of blood

Stains a sufferer’s lips.

Fierce, exulting, sweet, and yearning,

 

Melancholy dismal waltzes,

You cling to my consciousness,

You are borne on my thoughts

Like a bleached drop of blood.

VI | Madonna

 

Ascend, O Mother of All Sorrows

The altar of my verses!

The sword’s fury has drawn blood

From thy withered breasts.

 

Thy eternal open wounds

Are like eyes, red and open.

Ascend, O Mother of All Sorrows

The altar of my verses!

 

In thy shriveled hands

Thou holdest thy Son’s body,

Revealed to all mankind –

But mankind’s gaze is turned away

From thee, O Mother of All Sorrows

VII | Der kranke Mond (The Sick Moon)

You dark moon, deathly ill,

Laid over heaven’s sable pillow,

Your fever-swollen gaze

Enchants me like alien melody.

 

You die of insatiable pangs of love, Suffocated in longing,

You dark moon, deathly ill,

Laid over heaven’s sable pillow.

 

The hotblooded lover

Slinking heedless to the tryst

You hearten with your play of light –

Your pale blood wrung from torment,

You dark moon, deathly ill.

 

VIII | Nacht (Night)

 

Giant black butterflies

Have blotted out the sunshine.

A closed book of magic spells,

The horizon – sleeps-silent.

 

Vapors from lost abysses

Breathe out an odor, murdering memory. Giant black butterflies

Have blotted out the sunshine.

 

And from Heaven earthward

Gliding down on leaden wings

The invisible monsters

Descend upon our human hearts…

Giant black butterflies.

IX | Gebet an Pierrot (Prayer to Pierrot)

Pierrot! My laughter I’ve unlearned.

The image of splendor Melted – away.

 

To me the flag waves black

Now from the mast.

Pierrot! My laughter I’ve unlearned.

 

O give me back –

Horse-doctor to the soul,

Snowman of Lyric,

Your Lunar Highness,

Pierrot! – my laughter.

X | Raub (Theft)

Princely red rubies,

Bloody drops of ancient glory,

Slumber in the coffins,

Down there in the sepulchers.

 

Nighttimes, with his drinking buddies, Pierrot climbs down – to steal

Princely red rubies,

Bloody drops of ancient glory.

 

But look – their hair stands on end,

Fear roots them to the spot:

Through the darkness – like eyes! –

Out of the coffins stare

Princely red rubies.

XI | Rote Messe (Red Mass) 

 

At the gruesome Eucharist,

In golden glitter,

In flickering candlelight,

To the altar comes – Pierrot!

 

His hand, consecrated to God,

Tears open the priestly robes

At the gruesome Eucharist,

In golden glitter.

Signing the cross,

He shows the suffering souls

The dripping red Host:

His heart – in bloody fingers –

At the gruesome Eucharist.

XII | Galgenlied (Gallows Song)

 

The scrawny wench

With the long neck

Will be

His last lover.

 

Stuck in his brain

Like a nail is

The scrawny wench

With the long neck.

 

Thin as a pine tree,

Pigtail down her neck –

Lasciviously she’ll

Embrace the knave,

The scrawny wench!

XIII | Enthauptung (Beheading) 

 

The moon, a shining scimitar

On a black silk cushion,

Preternaturally large-glowers down

Through night’s pall of sorrow.

 

Pierrot wanders about restlessly

And stares aloft in deadly fear

At the moon, a shining scimitar

On a black silk cushion.

 

His knees tremble,

He collapses senseless.

He fancies it’s already whistling down

In vengeance on his guilty neck,

The moon, the shining scimitar

XIV | Die Kreuze (Crosses) 

 

Poems are poets’ holy crosses

On which they bleed in silence,

Struck blind by phantom swarms

Of fluttering vultures!

 

Swords have feasted on their bodies, Reveling in the scarlet blood!

Poems are poets’ holy crosses

On which they bleed in silence.

 

Dead the head – the tresses stiffened – Far away the noisy rabble.

Slowly the sun sinks,

A red royal crown. –

Poems are poets’ holy crosses!

XV | Heimweh (Homesickness) 

 

Sweetly lamenting – a crystalline sigh

Out of the old Italian pantomime,

It resonates in our time:

Why’s Pierrot become

So wooden, so sentimental modern?

 

And it sounds through his heart’s wasteland,

Sounds an undertone through all his senses,

Sweetly lamenting – a crystalline sigh

Out of the old Italian pantomime.

 

Then Pierrot forgets the mask of tragedy! Through the moon’s pale fireshine,

Through the sea’s light-tide –

sails his yearning

Bravely forth, heavenward home,

Sweetly lamenting – a crystalline sigh.

XVI | Gemeinheit! (Practical Joke) 

 

Into the gleaming pate of Cassander,

Who’s crying bloody murder,

Pierrot drills with a disingenuous air, Gently, with a trepan [skull-borer]!

 

Then tamps in with his finger

His genuine Turkish tobacco

Into the gleaming pate of Cassander,

Who’s crying bloody murder.

 

Then screws a cherry pipestem

Into the bald spot behind

And smugly puffs away on

His genuine Turkish tobacco

From the gleaming pate of Cassander.

XVII | Parodie (Parody)

Knitting needles gleaming and flashing

In her gray hair,

The duenna sits there muttering

In her little red dress.

 

She’s waiting in the arbor;

She loves Pierrot to distraction,

Knitting needles gleaming and flashing

In her gray hair.

 

Of a sudden – hark! – a whisper!

A breath of wind softly snickers:

The moon, wicked aping scoffer,

Beams down a simulacrum of

Knitting needles gleaming and flashing.

XVIII | Der Mondfleck (Moonfleck) 

 

A white fleck of bright moon

On the back of his black coat,

Pierrot sets off one balmy evening,

To seek his fortune.

 

Suddenly something’s awry in his toilette; He casts about until he finds it –

A white fleck of bright moon

On the back of his black coat.

Drat! he thinks: a fleck of plaster!

 

Wipes and wipes, but – can’t get it off! So on he goes, his pleasure poisoned,

Till break of day, rubbing and rubbing –

A white fleck of bright moon.

XIX | Serenade (Serenade) 

 

With a grotesquely outsized bow

Pierrot scrapes on his viola.

Like a stork on one leg,

He plucks a doleful pizzicato.

 

Suddenly here’s Cassander – raging

At the nighttime virtuoso –

With a grotesquely outsized bow

Pierrot scrapes on his viola.

 

He tosses the viola aside,

With his left hand delicately

Takes Sir Baldy by the collar –

Dreamily he plays on his pate

With a grotesquely outsized bow.

XX | Heimfahrt (Homeward) 

 

Journey Moonbeam is the rudder,

Waterlily serves as boat:

Thus Pierrot fares southward

On a fair following wind.

 

The stream hums deep scales

And rocks the fragile craft.

Moonbeam is the rudder,

Waterlily serves as boat.

 

To Bergamo, to Homeland,

Pierrot now wends his way;

Faintly in the east

Glows the green horizon.

– Moonbeam is the rudder.

XXI | O alter Duft (O Sweet Fragrance) 

 

O redolence from fairytale times,

Bewitch again my senses!

A knavish swarm of silly pranks

Buzzes down the gentle breeze.

 

A happy impulse calls me back

To joys I have long neglected:

O redolence from fairytale times,

Bewitch me again!

 

All my ill humors I’ve renounced;

From my sun-framed window

I behold untrammeled the beloved world

And dream me out to blissful vistas…

O redolence – from fairytale times.