Tuesday, March 30, 2021

English suites and others no. 42

The outstanding 20th century German retelling of older music is a work by Paul Hindemith which rejoices in the unwieldy name of Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber. Weber was an early 19th century German composer now best known for his operas, but these themes mostly come from obscure piano pieces. The scherzo is from incidental music to the play Turandot (the title will be familiar from Puccini's opera based on it), so its Persian setting is responsible for some pentatonic and exotic-percussion flavor.

Hindemith's music could be as unwieldy as his titles, but this suite is one of the great delights of modern music. And the performance, by the San Francisco Symphony under Herbert Blomstedt, captures my home-town band at its absolute best. The last movement is a gloriously brassy barn-burner.

Movements: Allegro (0.00), Scherzo (3.54), Andantino (11.15), March (15.30).

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