Both the works on this album came about as a reaction to the horrors of war. Shostakovich visited Dresden in 1960, and much of the city still lay in ruins. His 8th String Quartet dedicated to the victims of fascism, is one of his most powerful and deeply personal works, quoting from earlier compositions, and using the composer’s musical motto D Es C H. The composer wept after the first private performance. His son later suggested that the work was actually meant to be dedicated to the victims of totalitarianism. The 8th String Quartet was arranged for string orchestra with the approval of the composer by Rudolf Barshai. In this form, it is known as the Chamber Symphony. Richard Strauss, well into his 80s when the war ended, was crushed by the destruction of the great opera houses and places of learning in Germany as the Allies defeated the Nazis. Metamorphosen for 23 solo strings is a profound and heartfelt lament for the loss of the Germany he knew as a young man, and the news of the Goethehaus in Dresden being obliterated was the impetus for this late masterwork. The Baltic Chamber Orchestra is comprised of the string sections of the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra. Under their French music director Emmanuel Leducq-Barôme they are one of the finest chamber ensembles in Russia.
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