Emmanuel Leducq-Barome / Baltic Chamber Orchestra

Schoenberg: Verklärte nacht Op. 4; Honegger: Symphony No. 2

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The pairing of the string orchestra version of Arnold Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night) and Arthur Honegger's Symphony No. 2 for string orchestra and solo trumpet makes practical sense because they share the same basic ensemble, though on other points they have few similarities. Verklärte Nacht, originally composed in 1899 for string sextet but arranged for string orchestra and revised by Schoenberg in 1943, is a post-Romantic work based on a symbolist poem by Richard Dehmel about the anguish and reconciliation of two lovers in the moonlight, and through its thematic development and implied narrative, follows the single-movement structure of a Lisztian tone poem. In stark contrast, Honegger's three-movement symphony, written between 1937 and 1941, is quite modern in its dissonant counterpoint and abstract design, and while its turbulent counterpoint may reflect the wartime period of its composition, it has no explicit program. That said, these unlikely companion pieces are played with commitment and passion by the Baltic Chamber Orchestra under Emmanuel Leducq-Barôme, and the album holds together because of the group's lush tone and vibrant playing, which lend the two performances a unity of texture and sonority.

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