Sinfonia of London & John Wilson – Metamorphosen – R.Strauss; Korngold; Schrecker (2022)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:04:22 minutes | 1,19 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Chandos
Following their critically acclaimed album of English Music for Strings, Sinfonia of London and John Wilson turn to Germany and three outstanding works for string orchestra. Franz Schreker’s Intermezzo, the oldest piece here, was composed in 1900, before Schreker’s rise to fame in the opera houses of Germany and Austria, but shows strong indications of what was to follow. Korngold composed the Symphonische Serenade following his return to Vienna from Hollywood after the Second World War, and shortly before he wrote his Symphony in F sharp. Korngold effortlessly conjures a vivid range of colours and textures from his large forces (32 violins, 12 violas, 12 cellos, and 8 basses) in a work that explores the virtuosity of the players to the full. Composed in 1945, as a reaction to the horrors of the war, and the desecration of German culture, Richard Strauss’s Metamorphosen for 23 solo strings seems to look backwards to the German romantic tradition (a trait even more evident in his Four Last Songs, of 1948). The moving final passage, marked ‘In Memoriam’, leaves the listener to contemplate in silence.
John Wilson and the Sinfonia of London orchestra continue their musical journey around the world, dedicating this album to three German-language composers and their unique works for string orchestra. In 2021, the conductor presented us with English Music for Strings with the Sinfonia of London, entirely dedicated to an English programme. In addition, an album devoted to the works of French composer Ravel was published earlier this year. With Metamorphosen, we now have the pleasure of discovering compositions by Richard Strauss, Franz Schreker and Erich Wolfgang Korngold.
The work by Richard Strauss, which is probably the best known of the three, gives the album its name. He composed his work Metamorphoses for 23 solo strings in 1945, when Germany was buried in rubble. The cities in which Strauss worked as a conductor were marked by the horrors of the Second World War which led the 80-year-old composer to retire to his house in southern Bavaria and begin to put his grief on paper for a work in constant evolution.
Korngold was also not spared the horrors of the Second World War and, because of his Jewish background, could not stay in Europe. At the end of the war and after one of his visits to Vienna, he composed the Symphonic Serenade, a masterpiece in which all the layers and nuances of the orchestra are exploited, showing true virtuosic diversity. Between these two works we hear Schreker’s Intermezzo, composed as early as 1900 and thus long before his international success. This piece – which serves as the basis for the other two – is still rooted in the Romantic tradition and deals briefly but intensely with the symphony orchestra in its most accomplished form.
The Sinfonia of London manages to render these wonderful compositions in an elegant, varied and expressive way. Together with John Wilson – who reformed the ensemble in 2018 and continues his collaboration with it today – the two parts form a remarkable musical tangle that uniquely expresses the subtleties of each work. – Lena Germann
01. Sinfonia of London & John Wilson – Strauss: Metamorphosen, TrV 290 (Transcribed by Rudolf Leopold) (28:30)
02. Sinfonia of London & John Wilson – Schreker: Intermezzo, Op. 8 (06:10)
03. Sinfonia of London & John Wilson – Korngold: Symphonic Serenade, Op. 39: I. Schwebend (08:20)
04. Sinfonia of London & John Wilson – Korngold: Symphonic Serenade, Op. 39: II. Intermezzo (04:01)
05. Sinfonia of London & John Wilson – Korngold: Symphonic Serenade, Op. 39: III. Lento religioso (11:44)
06. Sinfonia of London & John Wilson – Korngold: Symphonic Serenade, Op. 39: IV. Finale (05:35)