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BERG: Sonate, Op. 1
SCHUBERT (arr. Fergus McAlpine): Viola, D. 786
ZEMLINSKY (arr. Fergus McAlpine): Lyrische Symphonie, Op. 18

Katherine Weber: Soprano
Rolfe Dauz: Baritone
Fergus McAlpine: Conductor

Zemlinsky Chamber Orchestra

This concert celebrates the 150th Birthday season of Alexander von Zemlinsky, the extraordinary yet rarely performed composer who shaped and inspired much of how we see musical culture in the 21st century. As well as being a composer himself, Zemlinsky’s students included Schoenberg and Korngold: anything from atonality and musical modernism, to music in Hollywood can be traced back directly to Zemlinsky.


Seen as his answer to Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, Zemlinsky’s Lyrische Symphonie uses a collection of love poems by Punjab poet, Rabindranath Tagore. The work doesn’t only describe love in the romantic sense, but how it ties into our human nature and affects our personalities and decision making. Schubert’s Viola, D. 786 also ties into the same theme, where a love story is told through the eyes of a single flower: here the blooming of spring is compared to a celebratory morning of a wedding.

Among Zemlinsky’s closest friends and colleagues was composer Alban Berg. His Sonate is a prime example of Zemlinsky’s musical influence: where classical forms and traditions are preserved, a romantic version of modern harmony shines brightly.

The three versions of these works performed by the ZCO bridge the gap between symphonic forces and chamber music, creating a powerful, yet intimate experience of some of the greatest masterpieces of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Franz Schubert: Viola, D. 786

Text by Franz von Schober, translated by Richard Wigmore


Snowdrop, snowdrop,

you ring through the meadows,

you ring in the silent grove.

Ring on, ring on for ever!


For you herald a time of joy;

spring approaches, the bridegroom,

victorious from his struggle with winter,

from whom he wrested his icy weapon.


So your golden rod swings

that your silver bell shall resound,

and your sweet fragrance wafts gently away,

like an enticing call:


So that the flowers in the earth

rise from their gloomy nests,

and to prove worthy of the bridegroom

adorn themselves for the wedding feast.


Snowdrop, snowdrop,

you ring through the meadows,

you ring in the silent grove,

ring the flowers from their sleep!


Violet, tender child,

is the first to hear the joyful sound;

she rises quickly,

and adorns herself carefully as a bride.


She wraps herself in a green gown,

takes a velvety blue mantle,

her golden jewels

and her dewy diamonds.


Then she hastens forth with powerful gait,

with thoughts only of her beloved in her faithful

heart, inflamed with ardent love,

looking neither this way nor that.


But a feeling of apprehension

troubles her tiny breast,

for all around it is still so quiet,

and the winds blow so cold.


She checks her rapid course.

Already the sun shines on her,

but she looks up in terror,

for she is quite alone.


No sisters! No bridegroom!

She has been too pressing! She has been rejected!

Then she shudders with shame

and flees, as if swept away by the storm.


She flees to the remotest spot,

where grass and shade conceal her;

she constantly peers and listens

to see if anything rustles or stirs.


Hurt and disappointed

she sits sobbing and weeping,

tormented by the profound fear

that no one will appear.


Snowdrop, snowdrop,

you ring through the meadows,

you ring in the silent grove;

call her sisters to her.


The rose approaches, the lily sways,

the tulip and hyacinth swell;

the bindweed trails along,

and the narcissus joins them.


And now, as spring appears

and the happy festival begins,

he sees them all united,

but misses his dearest child.


He sends them all off to search

for the one he cherishes,

and they come to the place

where she languishes alone.


But the sweet creature sits there

dumb and pale, her head bowed;

alas, the pain of love and longing

has crushed the tender one.


Snowdrop, snowdrop,

you ring through the meadows,

you ring in the silent grove;

ring for Violet’s sweet repose!

Zemlinsky: Lyrische Symphonie, Op. 18

Text by Rabindranath Tagore, from “The Gardener”; translated by the author



I am restless.  I am athirst for far-away things.

 My soul goes out in a longing to touch the skirt of the dim


 O Great Beyond, O the keen call of thy flute!

 I forget, I ever forget, that I have no wings to fly, that I am

   bound in this spot evermore.


 I am eager and wakeful, I am a stranger in a strange land.

 Thy breath comes to me whispering an impossible hope.

 Thy tongue is known to my heart as its very own.

 O Far-to-seek, O the keen call of thy flute!

 I forget, I ever forget, that I know not the way, that I have not

   the winged horse.


 I am listless, I am a wanderer in my heart.

 In the sunny haze of the languid hours, what vast vision of thine

   takes shape in the blue of the sky!

 O Farthest end, O the keen call of thy flute!

 I forget, I ever forget, that the gates are shut everywhere in

   the house where I dwell alone!



O mother, the young Prince is to pass by our door,—how can I

   attend to my work this morning?

 Show me how to braid up my hair; tell me what garment to put on.

 Why do you look at me amazed, mother?

 I know well he will not glance up once at my window; I know he

   will pass out of my sight in the twinkling of an eye; only the

   vanishing strain of the flute will come sobbing to me from


 But the young Prince will pass by our door, and I will put on my

   best for the moment.


 O mother, the young Prince did pass by our door, and the morning

   sun flashed from his chariot.

 I swept aside the veil from my face, I tore the ruby chain from

   my neck and flung it in his path.

 Why do you look at me amazed, mother?

 I know well he did not pick up my chain; I know it was crushed

   under his wheels leaving a red stain upon the dust, and no one

   knows what my gift was nor to whom.

 But the young Prince did pass by our door, and I flung the jewel

   from my breast before his path.



You are the evening cloud floating in the sky of my dreams.

 I paint you and fashion you ever with my love longings.

 You are my own, my own, Dweller in my endless dreams!


 Your feet are rosy-red with the glow of my heart's desire,

   Gleaner of my sunset songs!

 Your lips are bitter-sweet with the taste of my wine of pain.

 You are my own, my own, Dweller in my lonesome dreams!


 With the shadow of my passion have I darkened your eyes, Haunter

   of the depth of my gaze!

 I have caught you and wrapt you, my love, in the net of my music.

 You are my own, my own, Dweller in my deathless dreams!



Speak to me, my love!  Tell me in words what you sang.

 The night is dark.  The stars are lost in clouds.  The wind is

   sighing through the leaves.

 I will let loose my hair.  My blue cloak will cling round me like

   night.  I will clasp your head to my bosom; and there in the

   sweet loneliness murmur on your heart.  I will shut my eyes and

   listen.  I will not look in your face.

 When your words are ended, we will sit still and silent.  Only

   the trees will whisper in the dark.

 The night will pale.  The day will dawn.  We shall look at each

   other's eyes and go on our different paths.

 Speak to me, my love!  Tell me in words what you sang.



 Free me from the bonds of your sweetness, my love!  No more of

   this wine of kisses.

 This mist of heavy incense stifles my heart.

 Open the doors, make room for the morning light.

 I am lost in you, wrapped in the folds of your caresses.

 Free me from your spells, and give me back the manhood to offer

   you my freed heart.



Then finish the last song and let us leave.

 Forget this night when the night is no more.

 Whom do I try to clasp in my arms?  Dreams can never be made


 My eager hands press emptiness to my heart and it bruises my




Peace, my heart, let the time for the parting be sweet.

 Let it not be a death but completeness.

 Let love melt into memory and pain into songs.

 Let the flight through the sky end in the folding of the wings

   over the nest.

 Let the last touch of your hands be gentle like the flower of the


 Stand still, O Beautiful End, for a moment, and say your last

   words in silence.

 I bow to you and hold up my lamp to light you on your way.

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