Strauss, Korngold & Schreker: Metamorphosen / Wilson, Sinfonia of London
One of the New York Times' 5 Classical Albums to Hear Now
Shortlisted for the Gramophone Awards
Perhaps nobody since John Barbirolli has been able to make strings sing like the brilliantly talented John Wilson.
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 colors 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.
"Wilson’s release wins hands down. Part of the victory is due to the conductor and string players’ panache…whatever the mood, the Sinfonia’s tone stays full-blooded and refulgent, just like Chandos’s recording." -Times of London
What a fine and stimulating recording this is. Perhaps nobody since John Barbirolli has been able to make strings sing like the brilliantly talented John Wilson. Franz Schreker’s “Intermezzo” here has a sheen to it that is intensely delicate one minute and impossibly sumptuous the next. Strauss’s “Metamorphosen” has rarely had such an agonizingly drawn out, lovingly burnished performance as this. Even better is the rarity that accompanies it: Korngold’s Symphonic Serenade, a disfigured, difficult recollection of all that poignantly easygoing light music in the Austrian tradition, written when he returned to Vienna from Hollywood. The hush that Wilson finds for its slow movement is indescribably haunting.
-- The New York Times
Release Date: April 01, 2022
Catalog Number: CHSA 5292
Number of Discs: 1
Period: 20th Century
Conductor: John Wilson
Orchestra/Ensemble: Sinfonia of London