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Hyperion Records

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Photograph of Marie McLaughlin by Christian Steiner
Track(s) taken from CDH55202
Recording details: April 1993
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Antony Howell
Release date: April 1995
Total duration: 1 minutes 58 seconds

'A musical treat' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Gorgeous singing' (The Sunday Telegraph)

'Bring[s] a bright, wide-eyed wonder to songs of both night and of brilliant morning and a beguiling sense of dream-spinning in Strauss's cradle songs' (The Times)

Das Bächlein, Op 88 No 1
First line:
Du Bächlein silberhell und klar
composer
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
Elizabeth Watts (soprano), Roger Vignoles (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: The Complete Songs, Vol. 6 – Elizabeth Watts' (CDA67844)
Strauss: The Complete Songs, Vol. 6 – Elizabeth Watts
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99Buy by post £10.50 Studio Master: FLAC 24-bit 96 kHz £12.00ALAC 24-bit 96 kHz £12.00 CDA67844  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

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