Strauss’ post-war masterpiece Metamorphosen is often seen as an impassioned lament for the death of German culture. But the composer's choice of title was inspired by Goethe’s essay On the Metamorphosis of Plants, and his ravishing writing for 23 string soloists also evokes themes of rebirth, growth and transformation.
Written just under a decade later, Ligeti’s String Quartet No. 1 creates a radically contrasting sound world – the bold early footsteps of one of of the 20th century’s most innovative and distinctive composers. If Strauss’ music seems to speak to organic change and the evolution of cells, Ligeti’s work – subtitled Métamorphoses nocturnes – is the product of a fascination with numerical variations and the language of machines.
For this unconducted performance, Anthony Marwood joins Aurora Orchestra as guest director for the Strauss, whilst the Aurora string principals perform Ligeti's quartet. Aurora's Principal Conductor Nicholas Collon appears in conversation with Edmund de Waal, author of The Hare with Amber Eyes: together they explore the historical and musical context around the two works being performed, and discuss themes of evolution and transformation. BBC Radio 3's Sara Mohr-Pietsch presents.
This event takes place as part of Southbank Centre’s Belief and Beyond Belief series, a year-long festival exploring what it means to be human. The concert forms part of a weekend of events looking at the relationship between science and religious belief, and precedes the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance of Haydn’s The Creation later the same evening.
Part of The Orchestral Theatre: The Claus Moser Series at Southbank Centre.
RepertoireLigeti: String Quartet No.1 (Métamorphoses nocturnes)