Thursday, 19 February 2015

“Metamorphosen” retains its emotional, elysian power. – Tim Veater

 “Metamorphosen” retains its emotional, elysian power. – Tim Veater
“Metamorphosen” retains its emotional, elysian power. A fitting memorial to
those who past or present suffer from war. Tim Veater.
Richard Strauss (11 June 1864 – 8 September 1949) the great composer, was born
one hundred and fifty years ago. After witnessing the destruction of European
civilization, and particularly the beautiful cities of Dresden and Munich, with
its inhabitants, in the madness that was the “Second World War”, he wrote a
piece of music he entitled “Metamorphosen”. He subtitled it without explanation,
“In memoriam.” Scholars have debated what he really meant by this, without
resolving the issue. It was his last work until the sublime “Four Last Songs”,
composed only months before his demise.
The piece is written for ten violins, five violas and cellos and three
double-basses in twenty-three separate string parts. It has three seamless
sections (slow, fast, slow), but this superficial and mechanistic description
does nothing to fathom its, or Strauss’, emotional depths.
It stands as a memorial to all those lost in conflict – the very antithesis of
civilization – and those currently subject to its ravages and terrors, as are
the inhabitants of Mosul, Iraq even as we speak.
Fresh from the self-congratulatory D-Day celebrations, whilst conveniently
ignoring the unmitigated disaster that is Iraq and the Middle East, largely
created by the overt and covert actions of America and Britain over the last
decade, “Metamorphosen” retains its emotional, elysian power and well worth the
twenty-five minutes it takes to wash over the senses. 

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