COMPOSERS: Wagner/Schoenberg/Richard Strauss
WORKS: Siegfried IdyllSchoenberg: Verklärte Nacht; Metamorphosen
PERFORMER: Berlin PO/James Levine
CATALOGUE NO: 435 883-2 DDD
In 1943 Schoenberg was in Hollywood, revising the orchestral version of his fin de siècle tone-poem Verklärte Nacht. At the same time, Strauss, contemplating the ruins of the city in which he had grown up, sketched out a musical idea which he headed ‘Mourning for Munich’. The idea never came to fruition; but two years later, faced with the destruction of Weimar and Dresden, Strauss used it as the basis of his elegiac Metamorphosen – a piece that works its way inexorably towards its concluding quotation from the Eroica Symphony’s funeral march.
Wagner’s serene Siegfried Idyll makes an ideal foil to the sombre atmosphere of the two works scored for strings only. James Levine takes a decidedly lingering view of the opening pages of Metamorphosen; and it is a pity that he offers no increase in tempo for the entry of the exultant horn theme in the Wagner. A distinguished disc, nevertheless, with the Berlin strings on splendid form. Misha Donat