These are beautifully played arrangements of works known better in their
orchestral guise. 'Metamorphosen' is a deeply felt elegy generally recorded
for '23 solo strings' as intended by the composer but seven instruments also
carry significant weight as the Brandis Quartet and their partners demonstrate.
The deeply mournful mood of the music is played with exemplary finesse by
these seven artists who are after all some of the best string players in
the world. Compared with Kempe's lusciously vivid account with the Staatskapelle
Dresden (a fine example of virtuosity) this brightly recorded interpretation
may seem to be skeletal but deeper listening is rewarding.
I was also familiar with the deep lush sonorities of Karajan's 'Verklarte
Nacht' in his incomparable mid seventies DG recording but this soul searching
version has something to commend it, particularly in the mournful lines of
the solo violin or the bold statements of the sextet in unison.
The solo instruments make their intriguing case as the music unfolds in all
its late romantic grandeur, a study in music on the brink of tonality. After
the whole performance, this listener was amazed by the utter perfection of
the Brandis Quartet, a shining example of glorious chamber playing. It's
a refreshing alternative to the grandeur of the orchestral version.
Finally we have a short rendition of the Prelude to 'Capriccio' in sextet
form, more delicious playing and an ideal end to what is a stirringly profound
disc. As a different look at more familiar orchestral works this disc makes
an ideal entry into the library of twentieth century chamber music performance.