Richard Strauss: Divertimento, Op. 86 (1941) 34′
Richard Strauss: Vier letzte Lieder (Four Last Songs), Op. posth. (1948) 25′
Richard Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zaratustra), Op. 30 (1896) 25′
Barcelona Symphony Orchestra (OBC)
Heidi Melton, soprano
Vasily Petrenko, conductor
Richard Strauss was the great master of symphonic poems. Together with Don Quixote, Death and Transfiguration and his Domestic Symphony, Thus Spake Zarathustra is one of his most well-rounded works. Premiered in Frankfurt and conducted by Strauss himself, in its music, the composer not only conveys his reading of Friedrich Nietzsche–as Mahler also did at the time by setting part of the text to music–, but also his understanding of his era and that of the new century: Nietzsche parodied the New Testament, proclaiming that the late 19th century would herald a new era that would lead to a change in relations between good and evil.
All the humour, polished use of timbre, and skill of Strauss’ compositions are embodied in his Divertimento, a dance suite inspired by 18th century France leading to a surprising Suite From Keyboard Pieces by François Couperin.
The Bavarian composer’s last songs can be considered to be some of the masterpieces of the German lied. They testify to a particular era and to a highpoint in the genre. Written for soprano and orchestra and based on poems by Joseph von Eichendorff and Hermann Hesse, they describe a journey from spring to death.