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Fabio Luisi and the DNSO cast a singular new light on Romantic storytelling—perhaps transfigured?—beginning at the end with an early Schoenberg, and finishing at the start with one of Beethoven’s masterworks.
The somber atmosphere of the low notes with which Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night, 1899) begins—an ultra-romantic work by Arnold Schoenberg, infatuated with his future wife and still in his twenties—find in the DNSO’s strings the ideal texture to express the pathos of the poem that inspired the composer: “Two people are walking through a bare, cold wood / the moon keeps pace with them and draws their gaze / The moon moves along above tall oak trees / there is no wisp of cloud to obscure the radiance / to which the black, jagged tips reach up” (Richard Dehmel).
Next comes Richard Strauss’s 1882 musical homage to his father, a famous horn player in his day: the Horn Concerto No. 1, a jewel of late Romanticism and one of the few solo works dedicated to the instrument, outstandingly executed by the DNSO’s principal horn player Lasse Mauritzen. The journey comes to an end with a volcanic rendition of Beethoven’s Seventh under Fabio Luisi’s precise direction. The work, written between 1811 and 1812, embodies all the musical elements that would inspire, define and consolidate the canon of Romantic music for the rest of the century.