What are we missing? Richard Strauss

What are we missing? Richard Strauss


norman lebrecht

July 15, 2020

Message from the Havergal BrIan Society:

HBS President and Music Director of English National Opera, Martyn Brabbins, in collaboration with the London Symphony Orchestra’s Principal second violin David Alberman put together a group of string players from the London orchestras to undertake the first orchestral performance since the beginning of the lockdown. This performance of Richard Strauss’ Metamorphosen for 23 solo strings was captured for YouTube on behalf of Grange Park Opera and can be viewed below. Strauss, of course was the dedicatee of Brian’s Gothic symphony.

Of course.

The performance was organised by Grange Park Opera.



  • E says:

    This will be a delight to hear.
    The photo of Strauss with grandson also is a delight and reminds me of a video about Lachenmann — at the piano with a grandchild, and his daughter coming in to ask a question. Thank you for posting it.

  • Ricardo says:

    Brian rules!

  • RW2013 says:

    And if you can’t afford the strings, there’s a piano version by Gustave Samazeuilh.

  • Donald Halliday says:

    Lovely, moving playing. Many thanks to all the musicians, audio, video and support people. So many messages here.

  • Bill Ritchie says:

    There is also a version for string septet that I have performed here in Omaha on a chamber music series at our church.

  • ´dgar Self says:

    Covld’s Metamorphoses? This beautiful work, written for another calamity, is timely, for 23 solo strings, everyone a star. There are several apparent quotations including the sad cello dirge from the third movement of Brahms’s Third, and famously near the end the Eroica funeral march. Knowing Strauss, there are no doubt many others I cannot name or recognise.

  • Edgar Self says:

    I listened attentively to this comendable performance, a timely and gallant gesture by the payers and their conductor, and God knows they are trying, very, but whether through fault of the recording or otherwise, it is a little too fast, a bit too loud, turgid, ill-tuned, with the lower strings so ill-defined that the Eroica funeral march quotation passes almost unnoticed and could be missed entirely, which is not I think what Strauss intended in explicitly quoting it at the end.

    Voicing, clarity, and voice leading also are not ideal. These payers and their conductor could, like all of us, profit from spending time with Klemperer, Furttwaengler, Karajan, and especially Jascha Horenstein, who have the historical sense, gravity, muted pathos, and regretful recolledtion of happier times, which Dante says and Rossini quotes as the greatest sorrow, before the Semper Oper was destroyed in the fire-bombing of Dresden, where may of Strauss’s operas had their early stagings. Noq rhw Opwe, church, and entire Zwinger are rebuilt just as before, using as many of the original stoneworks as possible. Changes, and metamorphoses inded.

    I love the work, commissioned like so many others by Paul SSacher for his chamber orchestra, and already recoded live by Furtwaengler as early as 1947, although Horenstein often seems to me the best of all even among these weightily sonorous names. The quietly insistent, measured melancholy amid painful memories must be laid out clearly and gravely for the 23 solo lines, as in Allegri’s “Miserere” that young Mozart incredibly notated by ear and memory in Italy when the score was a jealously guarded secret. Two great works, alike only in the complexity of their textures and emotional raptness.