The program will open with Schoenberg’s 1899 string sextet Verklärte Nacht, Op. 4. The members of the Kuttner Quartet, violinists Borislava Itcheva and Rena Kimura; violist Laurent Grillet; and cellist Josue Valdepeñas will be joined by Atar Arad, viola and Jacob Wunsch, cello.
Verklärte Nacht translates to “Transfigured Night” and was inspired by the poem of the same name by Richard Dehmel. The poem tells the story of a man and a woman in love, walking through the woods at night. Their love is tested when the woman reveals that she is expecting a child by her previous lover. Several of Schoenberg’s contemporaries, including his teacher Alexander Zemlinsky also set or were inspired by Dehmel’s work. Many of his poems focused on erotic themes that scandalized the conservative Viennese music establishment.
Verklärte Nacht is a well-known early work of Schoenberg, and is an example of his explorations of chromaticism in the tradition of Brahms and Wagner. Though the work is essentially in D minor, a “non-existent” inverted ninth chord, as well as the content of Dehmel’s poem, led to Verklärte Nacht being rejected by the Vienna Music Society. This reaction would have driven some composers to return to more conventional harmonies, but Schoenberg was only encouraged to experiment further with tonality in later works, eventually abandoning it altogether in favor of serialism.
Dvorák’s Piano Quintet, Op. 81, concludes the program, offering a refreshing contrast to the pathos of the Schoenberg. Pianist and Jacobs School faculty member Evelyne Brancart will join the members of the Pacifica Quartet– Simin Ganatra and Sibbi Bernhardsson, violins; Masumi Per Rostad, viola; and Brandon Vamos, cello- in performance.
The Piano Quintet brings to bear all of Dvorák’s best talents- lively treatment of folk-like tunes, compelling thematic development, and clear orchestration even in this small ensemble. The style of this quintet, composed in 1887, represents a return to Dvorák’s compositional approach of the previous decade. Composed after seven of Dvorák’s nine symphonies, the Quintet is simultaneously lighter in tone and more rigorous in formal construction than his symphonies had become by that time. These two chamber works offer contrasting opportunities to appreciate the talents of members of the IU Jacobs School of Music Faculty.