Wagner/Schoenberg/Richard Strauss

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COMPOSERS: Wagner/Schoenberg/Richard Strauss
LABELS: DG
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.

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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