The thundrous echoes of dueting bass drums in Stèle lead into Metamorphosen, an agonising cry over the transformation wreaked by the bombing of World War II. In his diary at the time, Strauss mourned not only the destruction of virtually every major opera house and concert hall in Germany, but of culture itself. 23 solo strings gradually build as themes change from half-echoes of one familiar work to shadows of another.
Sibelius’ Fifth Symphony was born during earlier conflict, its form evolving several times as the composer’s circumstances and experience changed. From mysterious beginnings comes a conclusion of triumphant hope; of the ability to take flight and glimpse omnipotence.