The Norwegian Chamber Orchestra performs Arnold Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht, for string orchestra (arr. from String Sextet, Op.4). Artistic director: Terje Tønnesen. The concert was recorded at Gothenburg Concert Hall in 2014.
Schoenberg arranged his 1899 Sextet, subtitled "Verklärte Nacht" (Transfigured Night), for string orchestra in 1917, and then made minor revisions in 1943. The work was inspired by a poem by Richard Dehmel entitled "Weib und Welt", in which a young woman reveals to her betrothed she is pregnant by a former lover. The young man consoles her by declaring the child will be treated as his and that their love will flourish.
Despite the programmatic features of "Verklärte Nacht", it can be viewed strictly as abstract music – a large-scale symphonic poem – though fairly specific emotional states can be associated with various passages of the music. Cast in a single movement and lasting about a half-hour, the work has four distinct sections. The first, marked Grave, begins in a somber mood, a motif murmuring in the lower strings. The influence of Wagner is evident from the start, but the voice of Brahms co-exists happily throughout the work as well. The music turns intense in the middle part, conveying an agonizing sense, a sense perhaps of guilt or of apprehension.
These feelings linger into the second section (Poco adagio), though here the mood is sweet and gentle at the outset, setting the stage for the grim intensity that soon grips the proceedings. The music works itself up to a climax of tragic aspect, after which it struggles to continue, then seems to cry out in agony.
After a numbed peacefulness, the third section (Adagio), begins in a consoling, hopeful mood. Here the music is songful and lovely, the sense of conflict restrained, if not banished altogether. Soon the music turns almost ethereal in its lyrical loveliness, the upper strings soaring to the heavens with rapturous sonorities and reaching a positively ecstatic climax. The rest of the music here is equally euphoric, and the final section (Adagio – molto tranquillo) is serene, almost surreal in its sense of peace and reconciliation. Here, when disruptive elements appear, they are quickly drawn harmoniously into the otherwise blissful music.
Source: Robert Cummings (allmusic.com)
Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951)
♪ Verklärte Nacht, for string orchestra (arr. from String Sextet, Op.4) (1917)
i. Sehr langsam
ii. Etwas bewegter
iii. Schwer betont
iv. Sehr breit und langsam
v. Sehr ruhig
Norwegian Chamber Orchestra
Artistic director: Terje Tønnesen
Stage direction: Bud Beyer
Gothenburg Concert Hall, 2014
Since its formation in 1977 the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra has established itself as one of the foremost chamber orchestras on the international classical music scene today. Renowned for its innovative programming and creativity, the NCO is a project orchestra comprised of Norway's finest instrumentalists. Through integrating experienced musicians with talented young instrumentalists, the Orchestra continuously develops its unique style and innovative culture, thereby greatly contributing to the position Norwegian musicians and ensembles hold internationally.
The artistic directors and guest leaders throughout its history have been Iona Brown, Leif Ove Andsnes, Isabelle van Keulen, Martin Fröst, François Leleux and Steven Isserlis together with our current artistic director Terje Tønnesen who has held this role since the orchestra's formation.
The Orchestra's international tours to Europe, Asia and North America have received outstanding reviews at many of the world's prestigious concert halls and festivals. With nearly 40 recordings to date, the NCO has recorded comprehensive chamber orchestra repertoire with distinguished soloists, including Leif Ove Andsnes, Terje Tønnesen, Iona Brown, Truls Mørk, Lars Anders Tomter and Tine Thing Helseth. Highlights include the Norwegian award "Spellemannpris" winning recordings of Grieg and Nielsen works and Haydn piano concertos with Leif Ove Andsnes.
The Orchestra draws on an enviable roster of Norwegian and international soloists and has always been dedicated to presenting contemporary music as part of its concert repertoire.
The NCO currently presents its own concert series at the University Aula in Oslo and performs in major concert venues in Norway.
Between 2011 and 2016, the NCO served as the resident chamber orchestra at the Risør Chamber Music Festival.
Terje Tønnesen is one of Norway's most revered musicians, with a career spanning over forty years of music-making as violinist and artistic leader. Praised by public and press alike for his virtuosity and artistic individualism, Terje Tønnensen has established a firm place in the Nordic classical music scene through his position as Artistic Director of the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra and concertmaster of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. He held the same position with the Camerata Nordica in Sweden for two decades until 2016.
After his critically acclaimed debut in 1972 which Norway's major newspaper called "a dazzling debut without any parallel", he furthered his studies with Max Rostal in Switzerland. In 1977, he was appointed Artistic Director to the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, a position he shared with Iona Brown in 1981-2002. Tønnesen has also maintained a distinguished career as a soloist by making regular appearances with major orchestras in Scandinavian countries as well as making extensive tours to various parts of Europe, USA, China and Russia.
His recordings as the orchestra's leader have received considerable critical acclaim and have received awards including the Spellemann Prize. Tønnesen has also done a number of recordings as soloist and chamber musician, and recorded several works commissioned for him.
In recent years Tønnesen has composed music for several theatre productions and devoted his time to arranging various chamber and orchestral works. A passionate advocate for finding new ways of presenting classical music, Tønnesen has collaborated with colleagues from across various art forms, including American stage director Bud Beyer and choreographer Ingun Bjørnsgaard.
Terje Tønnesen has won several international awards and recognition such as the Grieg Prize and Lindeman Prize. In September 2015, Terje Tønnesen was appointed Knight First Class of the Royal Norwegian Order of St Olav. He performs on a 1756 Guadagnini lent to him by Dextra Musica, Sparebankstiftelsen.
Sofia Gubaidulina: Sieben Worte for cello, bayan and strings – Jean-Guihen Queyras, Geir Draugsvoll, Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, Per Kristian Skalstad (HD 1080p)
Pēteris Vasks: Violin Concerto "Distant Light" – Anthony Marwood, Norwegian Chamber Orchestra (HD 1080p)
Sofia Gubaidulina: Fachwerk for bayan, percussion and string orchestra – Geir Draugsvoll, Hans-Kristian Kjos Sørensen, Norwegian Chamber Orchestra,Terje Tønnesen (HD 1080p)
Thomas Larcher: Ouroboros for violoncello and orchestra – Jean-Guihen Queyras, Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, Per Kristian Skalstad (HD 1080p)
Richard Strauss: Metamorphosen for 23 solo strings – Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, Terje Tønnesen (HD 1080p)