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Kluxen – Transfigured Night

February 4 @ 2:30 pm

The strings of the Victoria Symphony are showcased in three works, beginning with a familiar, high-spirited piece by a 16-year-old Mozart. Shostakovich’s sparkling wit, sly humour, and love of musical parody are displayed in his energetic Concerto for piano, trumpet, and strings. Then step out from the darkness into the light, and have your view of Schoenberg’s music transformed. “Transfigured Night” is an early, overtly romantic piece with musical echoes of Brahms, Wagner, Mahler, and Richard Strauss.

Concert underwritten by Tim McGee, KC & Mary Mullens
Ryan Cole underwritten by Marc & Patricia Lortie
David Jalbert underwritten by George Lovick

Christian Kluxen, conductor

Now in his seventh season as Music Director of the Victoria Symphony, sixth season as Chief Conductor of the Arctic Opera and Philharmonic, and first season as the Principal Guest Conductor of the Turku Philharmonic, Christian Kluxen is regarded as one of the most exciting conductors to emerge from Scandinavia. Born in Copenhagen in 1981 to Danish-German parents, Kluxen has a natural affinity towards the Germanic and Scandinavian repertoire, particularly the works of Beethoven, Brahms, Richard Strauss, Nielsen, and Sibelius.

In the press he has been described as “a dynamic, charismatic figure” who “forms the music with an impressive vertical power of emotion and a focus on the grand form”, conducting “with exemplary clarity and a heavenly warmth.” From Canada, to Finland, and Norway, Maestro Kluxen has been recognized for his sincere and transparent leadership, innovative programming, and his bold, imaginative, and energetic interpretations.

Alongside his many and varied commitments with APO, Turku Philharmonic, and Victoria Symphony, recent and forthcoming guest engagements include Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Odense Symphony, and Norrköping Symphony. On the operatic stage, Kluxen has conducted extensive tours of Don Giovanni and Madama Butterfly with the Danish National Opera, followed by his Berlin conducting debut with Die Zauberflöte at Komische Oper. In 2017, he led highly successful performances of Die Fledermaus with Aarhus Symphony Orchestra, and Ariadne auf Naxos with Arctic Opera and Philharmonic. In 2019, he led two full productions of Bizet’s Carmen; in Denmark at Opera Hedeland and in Norway with Arctic Opera and Philharmonic.

Kluxen’s concerts have been broadcast live in Denmark, the UK, Sweden, Norway and Canada. He has received several prestigious awards and prizes, and in 2016 he was nominated by the International Opera Awards as “Young Conductor of the Year.”


David Jalbert, piano

A virtuoso with a warm, elegant style and a wide-ranging repertoire, pianist David Jalbert has established himself among the elite of his generation of classical musicians: “Jalbert’s piano playing is remarkable for its sweep, confidence, sensitivity, power and color, what more can we ask?” (Fanfare). Named by the CBC among the 15 best Canadian pianists of all time, Mr. Jalbert performs regularly as a soloist and recitalist in Canada and across the globe.

His solo recordings – of the Goldberg Variations, the Shostakovich Preludes and Fugues, of American, French and Russian piano music – have all garnered international praise in venues ranging from Gramophone to France-Culture. An accomplished chamber musician, he has collaborated with artists such as Nicola Benedetti, Joel Quarrington, Wonny Song and Yegor Dyachkov and is a member of Triple Forte (along with violinist Jasper Wood and cellist Denise Djokic). As a soloist, he has also performed with major orchestras and conductors Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Skitch Henderson, Christoph Campestrini, Bramwell Tovey and many more. A national and international prize-winner, David Jalbert has won six Opus Awards, was nominated four times for “Classical Album of the Year” at the Juno Awards and was the 2007 laureate of the prestigious Virginia Parker Prize of the Canada Council for the Arts. He holds degrees from the Juilliard School, the Glenn Gould School, Université de Montréal and Conservatoire de Musique du Québec, and is now a Professor of Piano and the Head of the Piano Sector at the University of Ottawa, as well as a faculty member at the Orford Music Academy.


Ryan Cole, trumpet

Ryan Cole has held the position of principal trumpet in the Victoria Symphony since 2012. In addition to his work in the VS, Ryan has performed with the National Arts Center Orchestra, the Vancouver Symphony, and frequently appears in the trumpet section of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, including multiple appearances as guest principal. Ryan is a former member of the Regina Symphony. He received his master’s degree from McGill University, and also trained at Music Academy of the West in California. He has appeared as guest soloist multiple times with the VS, as well as with the Saskatoon Symphony, and Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. Offstage, Ryan teaches a private studio of advanced trumpet students. Originally trained as a music educator, Ryan also spends a great deal of time in the schools giving masterclasses, talks, presentations, and performances.

FEBRUARY 4, 2024


Not so long ago, the idea that Arnold Schoenberg could write shimmeringly beautiful and deeply emotional music would have seemed absurd to all but a dedicated handful of enthusiasts and connoisseurs. To the general public, and to a distressing number of musicians, the doyen of the Second Viennese School was a bloodless theoretician, bent on purging all human feeling from organized sound through his rigidly formulaic 12-tone process. Even the intervention of the legendary pianist Glenn Gould—who in 1966 told the English broadcaster Humphrey Burton that were he a gambling man, he’d be very inclined to place his money “on the prospect for immortality of Arnold Schoenberg above and beyond any other composer who has lived in our era”—was unable to shake this conventional opinion.

It’s likely, though, that those who disseminated this view were more familiar with Schoenberg’s doctrinaire acolytes than with the Viennese master’s small but perfect body of work. That his descendants exerted a stranglehold on academic composition during the middle of the 20th century is undeniable, and for the most part regrettable. But their grip began to slip during the 1960s, and now, finally, Schoenberg can be seen for who he really was: a master craftsman who, far from stripping feeling from his work, reduced it to its essentials.

Again, Gould was ahead of the curve. “I don’t find him a very fearsome composer, really,” he told Humphrey in the same CBC TV interview, which is well worth searching out online. “There is a sternness about Schoenberg, certainly; there’s a hardness of profile, in a sense. But there is at the same time a quality of thematic enterprise….that is not only ingenious, but really quite lovely.”

This may have been hard to hear in 1902, when Schoenberg unveiled the original string-sextet version of Verklärte Nacht, although it’s probable that the negativity that attended its Vienna premiere was in reaction to the composer’s moral modernism rather than his sonic subversion. Inspired by Richard Dehmel’s poem of the same name, Verklärte Nacht is subtly programmatic: it is night, two lovers are walking through darkened streets, revealing in hushed tones their growing devotion to each other. And then the woman drops a bombshell: she’s pregnant—not by her new-found beau, but as the result of a prior one-night stand.

Any conventional suitor would be appalled. Clearly the right thing to do—in Vienna, in 1902, at any rate—would be to break off the engagement. Harsh words should ensue. But Dehmel’s male protagonist is as evolved as the composer who immortalized him.

“Do not let the child you have conceived/be a burden on your soul,” he says. “Look, how brightly the universe shines!/Splendour falls on everything around/you are voyaging with me on a cold sea/but there is the glow of an inner warmth/from you in me, from me in you/That warmth will transfigure the stranger’s child/and you bear it me, begot by me.”

The two embrace and walk on towards their future happiness, and thus the night is verklärt, transfigured.

“This is just a piece I’ve wanted to do for so many years,” says Victoria Symphony music director Christian Kluxen. “It’s just so beautiful in itself.”

The threads that link Verklärte Nacht to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Divertimento in D major and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Concerto in C minor for Piano, Trumpet, and String Orchestra are many, if perhaps not readily apparent. There’s the Viennese connection for Mozart and Schoenberg, of course: both did their best work in the Austrian capital, and both gave rise to schools of composition that continue to exert influence today. A little more tenuous is the notion that Mozart’s divertimentos were best performed outdoors, perhaps in one of the parks that Schoenberg and Dehmel’s lovers might have passed during their nocturnal perambulation, but it’s amusing to think about.

The influence of Schoenberg on his near-contemporary Shostakovich has been widely debated, although any emulation was likely one-sided. “He had great talent,” the Viennese composer reportedly said of his Russian peer, “but let politics influence his style too much.” Both artists made frequent use of dissonance, although Shostakovich’s use of atonality was often done for effect, while Schoenberg’s was built into his compositional method and likely his worldview. Both did, however, enjoy placing coded puns and messages in their music. Schoenberg used the so-called BACH motif—the tones B-flat, A, C, and B-natural—in his Variations for Orchestra, while Shostakovich did the same with his own DSCH epigram on numerous occasions.

Beyond that, says Kluxen, the theme of transfiguration is strong in all three works. “Shostakovich always has a different side to the coin,” the conductor argues. “He composes one thing, but maybe wants to say something else. It’s very humouristic, the same as Mozart always is. And you could say that this ‘transfigured’ thing goes through all the pieces. Mozart’s music always transfigures into something new and exciting, or sad and inward, and Shostakovich’s music also has transfiguration built into it, in his sarcasm. So all this is right, I think.”

It’s also, he adds, a program that “would never have taken place in past years”. But it’s happening now, and it’s likely to be well received in these eclectic and open-minded times. Evolution is real.

Notes by Alex Varty


W. A. Mozart (1756—1791) 
Divertimento in D major, K.136

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906—1975) 
Concerto in C minor for Piano, Trumpet, and String Orchestra, Op. 35
Allegro moderato
Allegro brio

Arnold Schoenberg (1874—1951) 
Verklärte Nacht, Op. 4 (“Transfigured Night”)


February 4
starts at 2:30 pm


Victoria Symphony


Farquhar at UVic
University Farquhar Auditorium, Ring Road
Victoria, BC V8P 5C2 Canada
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Concert Programme

  • Mozart
    Divertimento in D major, K.136
  • Shostakovich
    Concerto in C minor for Piano, Trumpet, and String Orchestra
  • Schoenberg
    Verklärte Nacht