Germany / Austria / Poland, 1974, tone poem
Berliner Philharmoniker / Herbert von Karajan / Gundula Janowitz – Tod und Verklärung; Vier letzte Lieder: Compositions by Richard Strauss, Hermann Hesse, and Joseph von Eichendorff. For being a song about death, “Tod und Verklärung” sure is an over-the-top mega-parade song, clocking in at 27 minutes and battering down the gates of Heaven with its ostentation. That’s fine, I guess. Perhaps it’s a metaphor for the internal struggle of passing over the boundary of existence. The real beauty of this album is the “Four Last Songs”, beautiful, melancholic musings by a solo female vocalist as she takes an archetypal journey from spring down into twilight, from the blush of youth to the gentle transition from life to death, with clear musical cues pointing to something beyond.