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Tom Woods: conductor
Serenity Thurlow: viola
Schnittke - Monologue For Viola And String Orchestra
Schoenberg - Verklarte Nacht (Transfigured Night)
The Russian composer Alfred Schnittke (1934-1998) remains one of the formative figures in 20th century Russian music. His compositions range from the polystylism of his earlier years where he juggled and fused different styles and periods to the increasingly introspective approach of his later period. Schnittke's music also reflects his deep mysticism which saw his conversion from Judaism to Christianity. A controversial figure in the former Soviet Union, his music was viewed with distrust by authorities – an official reaction which saw him banned by the Composers' Union and forbidden to travel outside the USSR. Defying ill health, he eventually left Russia, settling in Germany. Schnittke's music is often uncompromising and challenging but always rewarding. The Monologue, composed in 1989, is no exception.
Schoenberg's earliest successful work was inspired by Richard Dehmel's poem about betrayal and the transfiguring effect of love. A man and women are walking through a forest at night when she tells him that she is pregnant by another man. After some reflection, he forgives her and his love illuminates them. In the hands of Schoenberg, musical revolutionary, the composition reflects the sadness, anguish and humanity of the story. Its five sections are drawn from the late Romantic school, a long way from the 12 tone technique Schoenberg eventually championed. Originally written for a string sextet, the orchestral adaptation is the most performed.
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