– Parlophone E 10423, 10424, 10425. Richard Strauss: tone‑poem, Macbeth, played by the State Opera House Orchestra, Berlin, under Ed. Moerike. – Strauss was twenty‑two years old when he wrote this study in sound of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Clever though he was, and although experienced already in writing music, the task of expressing the mind and the moods of Macbeth was more than the young Strauss could carry through. His music is, therefore, not unlike what the playing of an actor would be who essayed the part. It is bold, brilliant, rough, very harsh at times, and only intermittently grateful to the purely musical senses, the composer aiming to portray the ruthless ambitions of Macbeth. The quieter passages deal with Macbeth’s wife and his reflections on the love that exists between them. The records will chiefly interest students who have some knowledge of the later tone‑poems, from Till Eulenspiegel and Don Juan to Ein Heldenleben (several of these later works being already available for the gramophonist).
The music should be listened to at first with the help of the miniature full score, because much of its effect depends on the listener having the right idea of the time. The work as a whole must be observed in the light of its »official« programme, which – in briefest outline – is as follows: The leading Macbeth theme starts at the 6th bar; it covers 14 bars, and the time is 4‑4. The second Macbeth theme appears in due course; it expresses the irresolute qualities of the man, and its rhythm is broken. When the time changes to 3‑4 the Lady Macbeth theme comes, heralded by a single note: it expresses her determination to drive her husband on to success (»Hie thee hither, that I may pour my spirits in thine ear«). A third Macbeth theme comes early in the 2nd part of the record; it is in 3‑4 time, and stands for the love between the man and his wife. The furioso music which flows from the 2nd part into the 3rd represents Macbeth’s girding himself up to the intense determination by which alone he can encompass the king’s murder. The 4th part contains the music illustrative of that »fate and metaphysical aid« which impel Macbeth forward and which he invokes. The 5th (the last) part has the music which suggests the graver aspects of the man’s conditions of mind and soul.
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