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Hyperion Records

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A Summer Night (1890) by Albert Joseph Moore (1841-1893)
© Walker Art Gallery, National Museums Liverpool / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67844
Recording details: January 2012
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: November 2012
Total duration: 2 minutes 32 seconds

'Vignoles plays the often extended introductions and postludes … quite magically, to say nothing of the extended interludes … my pleasure in this latest volume is without any reservations. Elizabeth Watts sings gloriously, rising fluently to the high tessitura of Strauss's melodic lines (immediately obvious in the first few songs included in the recital). Her beautiful voice, sensitive phrasing and response to word-meanings are consistently rewarding and her partnership with Roger Vignoles could hardly be more beautifully balanced' (Gramophone)

'Watts takes flight in this repertoire, her warm, generous soprano broadening into a luscious, creamy-toned wonder. Tonal glamour? You bet' (The Guardian)

'Watts has the full measure of the drama … she reveals herself as an accomplished Straussian throughout this recital and nowhere more so than in the very last song that the composer wrote, Malven, written for soprano Maria Jeritza in 1948 after he had finished the Vier letzte Lieder. A gift from one great artist to another and a fitting end to this admirable recording' (International Record Review)

Das Bächlein, Op 88 No 1
First line:
Du Bächlein silberhell und klar
December 1933; an Herrn Reichsminister Josef Goebbels; first published in 1951
author of text
falsely attributed to Goethe in the first published edition

Other recordings available for download
Marie McLaughlin (soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)
Introduction  EnglishDeutsch
The published version of this song attributes the poem to Goethe, but the text has never been traced. Instead its last two lines give a clue to its origin, and the reason for its composition. Strauss’s relationship to the Nazis has inevitably been the subject of much controversy, but one fact is clear, that between 1933 and 1935 he acted, at least nominally, as President of the Reichsmusikkammer. It was a position unsolicited by him, but for which he was the obvious choice, as by far the most important German composer of the day. If the septuagenarian Strauss was naïve in believing that ‘through the goodwill of the new German government … something really good can be achieved’, he was not alone at the time. But he soon became disillusioned, and by the autumn of 1934 was no longer attending the meetings, writing to the conductor Julius Kopsch: ‘I hear the paragraph on Aryans is to be tightened up … I do not wish to take part in any more of this kind of rubbish.’ In 1935 his music became the subject of vitriolic attack from pro-Nazi critics such as Walther Abendroth, a champion of the far more conservative (and himself pro-Nazi) Hans Pfitzner. Finally, in July of that year Strauss was expelled from the Reichsmusikkammer, and thereafter became the subject of official disapproval.

In the early days after his appointment in 1933 Strauss had inevitably been obliged to seek the favour of the Propaganda Ministry, and it is from this period that Das Bächlein originates. It was composed in December 1933 and originally inscribed ‘an Herrn Reichsminister Josef Goebbels’, a dedication that was suppressed when the song was first published in 1951.

If one could only ignore the thrice-repeated ‘mein Führer’ with which the poem ends, this song could be treasured as an exquisite example of Strauss in his best ‘folk-song’ mode. The piano part is almost Schubertian with its bubbling triplets, while the voice part is beautifully inflected—first lively and innocent, then quiet and thoughtful, sinking lower for the brook’s dark rocky bed, then higher with the reflection of the blue sky. The whole song is perfectly crafted, and but for its questionable history deserves to be far better known.

from notes by Roger Vignoles © 2012

Other albums featuring this work
'Strauss: Songs' (CDH55202)
Strauss: Songs
MP3 £4.99FLAC £4.99ALAC £4.99Buy by post £5.50 CDH55202  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  

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