Strauss: Metamorphosen - The Nash Ensemble

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The Nash Ensemble
1 CD
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Catalogue Number: CDA67574

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“Reducing the string size of Strauss's Metamorphosen from 23 to the seven of the composer's short score… might seem to be going light on the tragic force of this great wartime elegy. Not so in the hands of the Nash Ensemble. Truthful recording does full justice to the warmth, poise and integration of these marvellous performances.”


“The early and late Strauss on this finely recorded disc are separated by some 60 years: the Piano Quartet was completed in 1884, the year after Wagner's death, while Metamorphosen dates from the early months of 1945. Strauss at 20 had abundant promise: Strauss at 80 had managed to avoid lapsing intoer self-parody. The result is full of interest.
The Piano Quartet is invariably labelled 'Brahmsian' and the opening makes that association clear. Yet the piece is too loosely put together, too focused on small-scale harmonic effects, to sound like Brahms for long. Anyone looking for evidence that Strauss's true metier would be programme music and opera need look no further. It's an enjoyable piece for all that, expansively dramatic and genuinely expressive with that touch of spontaneity which signals Strauss at his best.
The Nash Ensemble bring affectionate fervour to the Quartet, without lingering excessively over its creakier transitions. A cooler touch might have been preferable with the Capriccio Prelude and Metamorphosen – the latter in particular risks overheating, with uniformly high dynamic levels. The status of this version of Metamorphosen is ambiguous, since it derives from a draft discovered in 1990. This preceded the final scoring for 23 solo strings, and one wonders if Strauss might not have revised the former in light of the latter had he wished to preserve it – especially the very awkward harmonic switch at the end, which the final version eliminates. A curiosity, then, which inevitably sounds more like a dilution of the familiar score than a genuine alternative.”

“The music’s autumnal soulfulness suits The Nash Ensemble’s house style to near-perfection … the same classy artistry shines through their performances of the string sextet prelude to Strauss’s last opera Capriccio, and of the much earlier Piano Quartet—Brahms and Schumann-influenced and very attractive”

Strauss, R:


version for string septet

Piano Quartet in C minor, Op. 13

Sextet from Capriccio, Op. 85

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