Aldeburgh Strings and Winds - R. Strauss: Metamorphosen - MusicWeb International
The technical quality of the playing here is assured by the provenance of the musicians assembled for this recording. They are essentially two “super-group” of strings and wind-players from the Britten-Pears Young Artists Programme conducted respectively by distinguished violinist Markus Däunert and celebrated oboist Nicholas Daniel.
I would not previously have ranked either the early Serenade or the late Symphony for Wind Instruments among Strauss’ most memorable or striking music, but performances as spontaneous and insouciant as these give grounds for reassessment. The former is a joyous work, full of floating melody and obviously inspired by – or even an homage to – Mozart’s K.361; the latter is reminiscent in its style and textures of the chamber music passages in “Ariadne auf Naxos” with its chattering, moto perpetuo opening Allegro, perky Andantino, elegant, wistful, and, again, very Mozartian Menuett. You would never guess that this piece was written in the dark days at the close of the war, but then the opening to the finale introduces a very different mood, with dark, minor, dissonant chords which are very Wagnerian in character and redolent of a strange consolation before the resumption of light-heartedness. The final section artfully mixes high spirits with the doom-laden “Götterdämmerung” chords, then concludes in a manner to suggest that even Hagen can cheer up and party. The playing of Daniels’ wind ensemble is beyond reproach in the sensitivity of its phrasing and the sonority of its textures. Nothing is overtly histrionic; the music simply unfolds in the most natural manner possible.