"Transfigured Night" is the Clavier Trio's title for its July 28 concert in Roshong Recital Hall. The title comes directly from a haunting work by a 20th century master, Arnold Schönberg.
Don't be scared off by the genius of atonality; this is a very early, highly romantic piece drenched with emotion and rich in sonority.
"It's been a life-long dream of mine to perform this piece," violinist Arkady Fomin said.
David Korevaar concurred: "As a pianist, I've wanted to add this to my repertoire, the version for piano trio."
Written in 1902, the work originally was conceived for string orchestra and has a remarkable history. If you're a YouTube fan, you can hear the Kremlin Chamber Orchestra play the opening section. The work also was transcribed for chamber sextet, and Clavier will perform the piano trio transcription approved by Schönberg himself.
"Transfigured Night" is fundamentally old-fashioned program music. It's based on a poem by Richard Dehmel, which tells the story of lovers walking on a moonlit night. I'm going to give the story away. Because there aren't any program notes, this is a favor: The woman reveals a troubling secret that may destroy their future together. The man listens and forgives her. Then the two walk "on through the high, bright night." With such a setting and such strong emotional contrasts, could the music be any more romantic?
"Besides the emotional transfiguration in the text," Korevaar said, from painful confession to forgiveness, "there's a musical transfiguration, too. Everything is parallel. The first section is in D minor; the second is in D major. Change one note and you change the whole piece."
"It's very atmospheric," Fomin added. "For anyone who loves the visual arts, you will be able to imagine a beautiful night, a walk in the woods and the power of forgiveness."
The work is about an hour long, so Clavier decided to open with a short work, an overture, if you will. Schubert's "Notturno in E flat major" is a one-movement adagio, also very atmospheric and evocative of night.
The program will close with another Clavier favorite, Mendel-ssohn's Piano Trio in C minor, op. 66. The trio has recorded this lyrical masterpiece and performed it in earlier seasons of Music in the Mountains.
Judith Reynolds is a Durango writer, artist and critic. Reach her at Jud_reyn@yahoo.com.