Romantic String Sextets by
Johannes Brahms and Arnold Schoenberg
Vera Beths & Mark Steinberg, violins
Dov Scheindlin & David Cerutti, violas
Myron Lutzke & Nina Lee, ’celli
Brahms String Sextet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 36
Schoenberg Verklärte Nacht, Op. 4
We close our 23rd season with two works that limn the acme and apotheosis of the Romantic Era. The youthful vigor of Brahms’ String Sextet, Op. 36 will be enhanced by the richness of our ensemble’s twenty-four gut strings. Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht (“Transfigured Night”), composed in 1899, is the first “symphonic poem” scaled for chamber music. Based on a Richard Dehmel poem, Schoenberg’s richly expressive music follows the story of a couple discovering the redemptive power of truth, forgiveness, and love. Presenting such 19th-century masterpieces in rare gut-string performance is central to Helicon’s mission. To lead this important performance, the renowned Amsterdam-based violinist Vera Beths makes her Helicon debut.
"Transfigured Night" (Verklärte Nacht)
by Richard Dehmel
(Translation:1992 Lionel Salter)
Two People are walking through the bare, cold grove;
the moon accompanies them, they gaze at it. The moon courses above the
high oaks; not a cloud obscures the light of heaven, into which the black
treetops reach. A woman's voice speaks:
I am carrying a child, and not of yours;
I walk in sin beside you.
I have deeply transgressed against myself.
I no longer believed in happiness
and yet had a great yearning
for purposeful life, for the happiness
and responsibility of motherhood; so I dared
and, shuddering, let my body
be embraced by a strange man,
and have become pregnant from it.
Now life has taken its revenge,
now that I have met you.
She walks with awkward step.
She looks up: the moon accompanies them.
Her dark glance is inundated with light.
A man's voice speaks:
Let the child you have conceived
be no burden to your soul.
see, how brightly the universe gleams!
There is a radiance on everything;
you drift with me on a cold sea,
but a special warmth flickers
from you to me, from me to you.
This will transfigure the other's child;
you will bare it for me, from me;
you have brought radiance on me,
you have made me a child myself.
He clasps her round her strong hips.
Their breath mingles in the breeze.
Two people go through the tall, clear night
Richard Dehmel (1863-1920)
The Helicon Foundation