Wednesday, February 17, 2010

richard strauss | don quixote; horn concerto no. 2

composed in 1942, strauss' second horn concerto is the most "modern" composition to inhabit this blog, but it sure doesn't sound it! sure, strauss has always been firmly rooted in the post-wagnerian romantic tradition, never quite letting the dissonances of a piece, like say salome, take him too far afield. so then why is the date of note? well, the obvious: tonality was supposedly dead in eastern europe for almost twenty years, with the serial arms race underway. but even so, the concerto doesn't reek of neoclassicalism (is it because strauss never had an episteme to hark back to?). the (real) obvious, vis-a-vis the date: strauss was smack dab in the middle of total war, having recently disassociated himself from the nazi party; possibly in fear of antisemitic attacks on friends and family. truly a terrifying time for any human, but maybe, relative to the representative 1942 gentile eastern european, richard was in a heightened state of fear. that's the peculiar thing about this horn concerto: it is regal (mein...k├Ânig?) and stately, but not a (superficial) expression of a man surrounded by death. so then is it an act of dissidence? not quite, i claim. strauss did produce the pacifist opus friedenstag during this period; and moreover, if this piece were, is he pining for order? -- i presume not. hence i -- who knows about strauss? -- view this composition as a flight to serenity amidst chaos; a fancy night at the orchestra, all the while ignoring the corpses littering the streets. and ohhhh, the french horn.

right, don quixote. well, i won't say much except "how about those soloists (fournier on cello, cappone on viola)?" that, and, its pairing with the horn concerto is interesting (beyond the virtuoso emphasis) and highly affecting.

1 comment:

  1. i've been trying to track this down forever! thanks!