CD review: Aldeburgh’s Strauss Metamorphosen

First published in the Guardian on 8 June, 2017

Strauss: Metamorphosen, Serenade Op 7, Symphony for Winds
Aldeburgh Strings/Aldeburgh Winds (Linn)

Metamorphosen makes me seasick in the wrong hands. Written by an 85-year-old Strauss in the months after World War Two, the relentless swell and tug of the grief-thick harmonies need players who see past the next wave and steer a course through half an hour of stormy waters. And it really is up to every single player – Strauss wrote 23 solo string parts rather than clumping instruments together, and that makes the skill and judgement of the young Aldeburgh Strings led by Markus Daunert doubly impressive. Their sound is lithe and rich, their trajectory isn’t thrown off course at every squall but they coalesce into broad, gutsy gestures when they want to. It’s a sophisticated performance. Strauss’s late wind ensemble pieces get similarly intelligent treatment from Aldeburgh Winds under oboist Nicholas Daniel: charismatic individual voices, sturdy group textures and a lot of thought and care shaping every phrase.