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Ligeti String Quartet No. 1 (‘Métamorphoses nocturnes‘)
Strauss Metamorphosen

Edmund de Waal speaker
Anthony Marwood director
Sara Mohr-Pietsch presenter

Aurora welcomes artist and bestselling author Edmund de Waal and violinist Anthony Marwood for a collaborative event exploring the theme of metamorphosis.

Strauss’ post-war masterpiece Metamorphosen is often seen as an impassioned cri de coeur for the death of German culture. But the composer’s choice of title was inspired by Goethe’s essay On the Metamorphosis of Plants, and his ravishing writing for twenty-three string soloists also evokes themes of rebirth, growth and transformation.

Written just under a decade later, Ligeti’s String Quartet No. 1 creates a radically contrasting sound world – the bold early footsteps of one of the twentieth century’s most innovative and distinctive composers. If Strauss’ music seems to speak to organic change and evolution of cells, Ligeti’s work – subtitled Métamorphoses nocturnes – is the product of a fascination with numerical variations and the language of machines.

For this unconducted performance Anthony Marwood joins Aurora Orchestra as guest director for the Strauss, whilst the Aurora string principals perform Ligeti’s quartet. Aurora’s Principal Conductor Nicholas Collon appears in conversation with Edmund de Waal, author of The Hare with Amber Eyes: together they explore the historical and musical context around the two works being performed, and discuss themes of evolution and transformation.

This event takes place as part of Southbank Centre’s ‘Belief and Beyond Belief’ series, a year-long series exploring what it means to be human. The concert forms part of a weekend of events looking at the relationship between science and religious belief, and precedes the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance of Haydn’s The Creation later the same evening. BBC Radio 3’s Sara Mohr-Pietsch presents.

This project is developed as is part of The Orchestral Theatre: The Claus Moser Series at Southbank Centre. The series is generously supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation (in memory of Sir Claus Moser), Cockayne – Grants for the Arts and The London Community Foundation, and the Hargreaves & Ball Trust.

Duration: c. 75–80 minutes

Take a look at Aurora’s 2015 collaboration with Edmund de Waal below (Aurora section starts c. 21:30):