In the third special concert given by the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, we can look forward to an unexpected reunion with Finnish star conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen. The new music director of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra is coming to Hamburg to play two works that are particularly intense, in terms of both emotions and sound – even when performed with a smaller orchestra than usual.
With his »Metamorphoses« for 23 solo strings, the 80-year-old Richard Strauss gave expression in 1945, just a few weeks before the end of World War Two, to his sense of dismay at the shattered cultural landscape. There is no orchestral lustre here, no lavish magic, just absolute concentration on the essentials – Strauss had never written music like this before.
The principle of constant transformation that the composer refers to in the title »Metamorphosen« is at the same time a metaphor for the time we live in, and also for the concept behind the composition: each motif evolves from the preceding one in the manner of a continual chain of variations. Nothing returns as it was before…
Maurice Ravel's ballet »Ma mère l’Oye« (Mother Goose), on the other hand, carries us off to a quite different world that many adults have lost touch with: to the »poetry of childhood« that the French composer so loved. The title of the piece refers to a famous collection of fairy tales by Charles Perrault, and Ravel originally wrote the music for his friends' children, who he envisaged would play this »collection of little pieces« for piano duet.
However, the master of musical colour ended up producing a score that was a little too complicated for children to play. Moreover, it was literally crying out to be orchestrated. So in 1911 Ravel extended the work into a ballet nearly half an hour long, full of sophisticated, exotic and truly fabulous tone colours.
NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester
conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen
Metamorphosen / Studie für 23 Solostreicher TrV 290
Ma mère l'oye / Ballettmusik
Estimated end time
19:30 / 22:00