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Nachts zwischen zwei und dreiMartin Wettstein / Tim Krohn
00:00 / 14:03


At night, between two and three

for soprano and string orchestra

Tim Krohn, lyrics

Commissioned by the Weinberg Chamber Orchestra

First performance in September 2009 in the Tonhalle Zurich

Sandra Trattnig, soprano

Gábor Takács-Nagy, director

Weinberg Chamber Orchestra

Tim Krohn's poem describes the transformation from a conflictual situation with painful feelings to a state of peace and harmony.

He makes direct reference to the poem "Transfigured Night", which Richard Dehmel wrote at the end of the century before last and inspired the young Arnold Schönberg to write the sextet of the same name - it was to become his most famous and most frequently performed work.  

The music for "Nachts,between two and three" for soprano and string orchestra follows the poem over its five stanzas - it is a poetry setting in the classical sense. Understanding the text is important, and the music does not compete with the text, but should form a symbiotic unit with it.

The transformation felt in the poem  - another word for it would be transfiguration -  also takes place on a purely musical level and gives an idea of the universal importance of this topic: the path from dark chaos to translucent light.

Like Tim Krohn's and, by the way, Richard Dehmel's poetry, music also undergoes an evolution in five stages. "Before" the actual evolution, the music is in a dream-like, timeless state, the voice is simple, nothing is happening (yet). Then five stages of transformation sound, corresponding to the five stanzas of the poem:

Chaos and darkness: voice particles whizzing around rapidly but aimlessly form a dark, chaotically vibrating cloud, leaving the voice alone and lost. There is neither up nor down, neither before nor after. The orchestra is split up into 25 individual voices, harmonic connections develop only briefly and then fall apart again.

The voice particles begin to clump together and form larger structures, but there is still no vertical order, there is no heaven and no earth. A pulse appears, but it keeps disappearing in the vastness of space. The voice leaves slight traces in the orchestral body of sound, like a pebble falling on the surface of water, creating circles drifting apart. The harmony is still diffuse, but already allows light to shine through, so it is perceptible, and is held less densely than in the first stage.


Evolution leaves behind the physically dominated initial stage. Melodies and lively rhythms appear. The voice and the orchestra now form an organic unit, there is now both an above and below, as well as a directed arrow of time - the music now also has a memory (past) and a vision (future). The rhythm now flows dynamically. The harmony is enriched by warm thirds.  


The music calms down, the harmony softens and slowly loses its dissonance. Light rhythmic waves carry the voice. Intense feelings give way to calm serenity. The orchestra becomes more transparent and unified.


The flow of time (=Greek "rhysmos", rhythm) flows into the ocean of sound, the melody rests on one note, the harmony is now clear and transparent. A pounding heart can be heard very quietly.


At night, between two and three

We argued half the night

About nothing

Because I dared not say...

at two in the morning 

(stands in front of the window

already the little bear)

I finally say:

I'm pregnant, yes

It's not from you


After that I lay bare of everything

He stands up? How does he leave me?

The child is from another life

I do not want 

I can not



Love came so unexpectedly

So clear, so intense, so enchanting

Everything went so fast

First 2, then 2, now suddenly 4, then only one and a half


It will be three before he finally stirs

and  smokes a cigarette

That was my last, he then says, nothing more

From tomorrow we have to be reasonable

For our child

He folds his long limbs

curls up

Lays her head in my lap

And ask me to sleep a few more hours


As I watch the last curl of cigarette smoke

And feel the peace growing, what peace!

Is he already asleep?

Ah, our child...

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