Bruch: Das Lied von der Glocke

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COMPOSERS: Bruch
LABELS: CPO
ALBUM TITLE: Bruch – Das Lied von der Glucke
WORKS: Das Lied von der Glocke
PERFORMER: Eleonore Marguerre (soprano), AnnetteMarkert (mezzo-soprano), Klaus FlorianVogt (tenor), Mario Hoff (baritone); PraguePhilharmonic Choir, KŸhn’s Mixed Chorus;Staatskapelle Weimar/Jac van Steen
CATALOGUE NO: 777 130-2
Twentieth-century politics have

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bedevilled reactions to Bruch’s setting

of Schiller’s Das Lied von der Glocke.

Critics have labelled it poor man’s

Mendelssohn with an opportunistic

whiff of Wagner about the choral

writing; while Schiller’s original text

– an allegory in which the casting

of a bell is parallelled with phases

of human life – has been read as

reactionary, packed with unacceptable

attitudes to women as slaves to Kinder

and KŸche. And anti-democratic

too – when do the people out on the

streets in praise of Liberty become a

rampaging mob? So to have now two

recordings of the piece in the catalogue

seems an unaccountable luxury.

Jac van Steen presided over this

live recording in Weimar at New Year

2004/5. With the exception of the

fire that sweeps through the town at

the end of the first part, van Steen

never pretends that he is conducting

a Mendelssohnian oratorio. Indeed

the drama is always subordinate to

the musical narrative. In this he is

ably assisted by the bass Mario Hoff,

in charge of casting the great bell.

Hoff’s opening narration is a model

of vocal clarity. However in the end

the solo singing honours belong to

Annette Markert, the alto. A kind

of small-town Erda, you almost

believe her musings on fate, destiny

and death. Was there a dry eye in the

house in the Weimarhalle when she

came to bury The Mother? However

it’s the combined chorus who excel

themselves, which is exactly as it should be in this kind of 19thcentury

work, with rapt singing in the

opening movement, terror during the

fire, and a sense of wonder when the

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Bell is finally cast. Christopher Cook