DESKTOP
TABLET (max. 1024px)
MOBILE (max. 640px)
Return to Top
Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

LEBRECHT LISTENS | Sinfonia of London’s ‘Metamorphosen’ Is A Bittersweet Elegy

By Norman Lebrecht on March 25, 2022

Screenshot of Richard Strauss in Special Film Project 186 (1945)
Screenshot of Richard Strauss in Special Film Project 186 (1945)

Sinfonia of London: Metamorphosen (Chandos)

★★★★☆

🎧  Spotify | Amazon | Apple Music

In mid-March 1945, Richard Strauss set about writing a suite for string orchestra that would reflect his feelings at the surrounding devastation. The 80-year-old composer had seen his hometown Munich bombed to ruins, but he was comfortably situated in Alpine Garmisch and at no immediate personal risk. His suite, Metamorphosen, was bittersweet: a reflection on his country’s defeat and his own early complicity with its fallen Nazi regime.

The music of Metamorphosen is usually performed as lament. Here, John Wilson and the Sinfonia of London reinterpret it chillingly as elegy — an old man looking back not in anger as but in a kind of satisfaction at the sights and sounds he once enjoyed, and which will never be experienced in the same way again. Strauss in 1944-45 reverts often to the sound world he once shared with Gustav Mahler. Here, there are hints of Mahler’s Adagietto, but even more of late Brahms and young Schoenberg. There are moments when Wilson’s orchestra could be playing Verklärte Nacht.

The companion pieces are no less provocative. Franz Schreker’s Intermezzo, dated 1900, should be retitled Interschmaltzo. It smears itself all over the strings like double-cream on apple strudel, and delivers a kind of tastelessness that can only be bad for your waistline. Beautiful, but is that all?

Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Symphonic Serenade was written, like Metamorphosen, at the end of war and from the fantasy world of Hollywood. Although Korngold made its finale out of his 1935 score for Captain Blood, the overall impression is more Strauss than Richard’s suite — two composers writing what they thought might go down well in a Vienna that no longer existed.

The context in a concert program does not come cleverer than this.

To read more from Norman Lebrecht, subscribe to Slippedisc.com.

#LUDWIGVAN

Get the daily arts news straight to your inbox.

Sign up for the Ludwig van Daily — classical music and opera in five minutes or less HERE.

Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300
comments powered by Disqus

Ludwig Van Toronto

SCRUTINY | Cahoots Theatre ‘Three Ordinary Men’ Offers Strong Performances, Brilliant Design

By Paula Citron on June 23, 2022

Civil rights drama 'Three Ordinary Men' is another production to add to Cahoots Theatre's distinguished repertoire.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

WHO’S WHO | The Toronto Concert Orchestra Wants You To Fall In Love With Live Music Again

By Member on June 27, 2022

After two years, the Toronto Concert Orchestra is returning to weekly in-person concerts from June 28- August 23, 2022.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

THE SCOOP | TSO News: Trevor Wilson Takes A New Role, While Simon Rivard’s Contract Is Extended

By Anya Wassenberg on June 21, 2022

TSO Music Director Gustavo Gimeno announced the roles of conductors Trevor Wilson and Simon Rivard into the next season.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_low_590x300
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700

We have detected that you are using an adblocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website. Please whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.