Notes and Editorial Reviews
Metamorphosen seems to be much in favour with conductors at present. It is small wonder since not only is it a great and moving work, but it is a wonderful vehicle for demonstrating the excellence of a string ensemble. Strauss may only have specified 23 solo strings, but he wrote for them with such richness and complexity that they always sound at least twice that number if they are any good at all. And the New Stockholm Chamber Orchestra are extremely good... The work is wonderfully played here with a rich and warm recording to enhance the performance...[and] there are many lovely insights... If Salonen is perhaps a surprising Straussian, he is clearly a perceptive one. The Duet-Concertino was Strauss's last instrumental work involving soloists, and a charmer it is, too, even if slight and reminiscent. If we have heard most of its beguiling themes in other guises—as Daphne (in the opera of that name), for example there are few composers who repeat themselves so divertingly, variously and imaginatively. These ruminations on things past are beautifully played by the clarinettist Paul Meyer and the bassoonist Knut Sonstevold, both with the appropriate mellow tone, and Salonen here strikes the right interpretative stance, combining affection with a high regard for the craftsmanship that flowed as easily as melody from Strauss's pen.
The prelude to Capriccio is, of course, a string sextet, supposedly written by the composer Flamand in the opera in honour of the beautiful widowed Countess's birthday. But the temptation to transcribe it for full string orchestra must be hard to resist and Salonen has done the job well. If I prefer it in its original form, that is because I think it is essentially a piece of chamber music and, like Schoenberg's Verklarte Nacht, loses something when it is inflated. On the other hand it gains in richness, and in any case it is such a beautiful piece of music that it seems only fair that it should be placed within the grasp of symphony orchestras looking for something different with which to open their programmes. So they should be grateful to Salonen.
-- Gramophone [10/1989]