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Bartok: Bluebeard's Castle Hybrid SACD, SACD


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Product details

  • Conductor: Ivan Fischer
  • Composer: Bartok
  • Audio CD (13 Jun 2011)
  • Please Note: Requires SACD-compatible hardware
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Hybrid SACD, SACD
  • Label: Channel Classics
  • ASIN: B004YNRHB4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 246,132 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Megerkeztunk, (We Have Arrived)
2. Ez a Kekszekallu Vara! (This Is Bluebeard's Castle!)
3. Nagy Csukott Ajtokat Latok, (I See Large Closed Doors)
4. Jaj! (1. Ajto), (Oh! (Door 1))
5. Mit Latsz (2. Ajto), (What Do You See (Door 2))
6. O Be Sok Kincs! (3. Ajto), (Oh, How Much Treasure! (Door 3))
7. Oh! Viragok! (4. Ajto), (Oh, Flowers! (Door 4))
8. Nezd, Hogy Derul Mar a Varam, (5. Ajto), (See How My Castle Brightens (Door 5))
9. Csendes Feher Tavat Latok, (6. Ajto), (I See a Silent White Lake (Door 6))
10. Az Utolsot Nem Nyitom Ki, (I Won't Open the Last One)
11. Tudom, Tudom, Kekszakallu, (I Know, I Know, Bluebeard)
12. Lasd a Regi Asszonyokat, (7. Ajto), (Look at the Women of the Past (Door 7))

Product Description

Despite occasional successful stagings of this opera, it is concert performances that stir up the feelings of audiences most. I have witnessed many times in performances of this psycho-drama that listeners, staring at the faces of the two singers for sixty minutes, or following a surtitled or printed libretto translation during Bartóks deeply emotional music, were confronted with themselves. The prologue is very important; this is in fact a story about us. Usually, after the opera has ended, discussions break out, dividing men and women. Whereas everybody seems to understand why Judit cannot resist her desire to open all the doors, Bluebeards character remains controversial. Is it right or wrong, necessary or unnecessary to keep certain doors closed? Why does he need to lock Judit up after she has discovered his secrets? Is the blood real, or does it exist only in Judits fearful imagination? This Bluebeard is not a killer, even if he has a bad reputation and Judita sees blood everywhere. All the earlier wives are alive in his heart, behind closed doors. Bartók, who was himself a closed, shy man, seems to have been fascinated by strange-looking characters who turn out to feel endless love. This links Bluebeard to the Miraculous Mandarin.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Moore TOP 50 REVIEWER on 25 Feb 2013
Format: Audio CD
Like previous reviewers, I find that this opera exercises a peculiar fascination over me. It offers a perfect fusion of drama, music, poetry and psychological acuity and moral ambiguity all presented in one enthralling Gesamtkunstwerk lasting just under an hour. In common, too, with previous reviewers, I suspect that it s best experienced either in concert performance or in the solitary confines of one's own listening room, perhaps even through headphones, where the effect can be especially chilling and disturbing. I remember in particular the scalp-prickling thrill I felt as the lock turns and the first door swings open to the accompaniment of those unworldly sighs from the lips of unseen denizens.

That was on listening to the famous recording conducted by Kertész with Christa Ludwig and Walter Berry which is still one of my favourite versions, alongside that by another Hungarian Fischer, Ádám, with Samuel Ramey and Eva Marton and Solti's with Kovats and Sass. This one by Iván Fischer is certainly excellent without displacing those favourites. I very much like having the verse by Béla Balázs intoned over the Prologue, here spoken by the conductor without quite achieving the haunting, mesmeric quality we hear in Istvan Sztankay's delivery for Solti or that by the uncredited speaker on the live broadcast from Cardiff by Mark Elder in 1992; Fischer is rather matter-of-fact.

The orchestral colouring from the Budapest Festival Orchestra here is remarkably spicy and somehow "ethnic" sounding, with hoarse clarinets, fluttery flutes and blaring brass.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By D. S. CROWE TOP 500 REVIEWER on 29 July 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
For the legions who love this work as I do, and those who are usually intimidated by Bartok's more abstruse works, I can give no greater advice than to listen to this recording! Fine recordings and performances abound, but I believe that this can claim Top Recommendation on every count. I have been surprised and delighted by recording after recording from Fischer and his extraordinary orchestra-the Mahler 4 of a couple of years ago finally displaced my beloved Maazel/Vienna recording as absolute favourite-and every aspect of this latest recording reaches those same exalted heights. The recording is superb-very wide ranging dymanic, with eery quiet passages, but very detailed, and the climaxes are incredibly weighty, with the organ and orchestra producing a stunning effect at the opening of the 5th door-much more weight of sound than we associate with this orchestra, which I always feel would have delighted Karajan as it plays like a giant chamber orchesta, with a real sense of the players listening to each other as they play.There is a wonderful " chocolatey" clarinet tone, very like the "torogatu" of Hungarian Folk Music Groups, and the trumpet has a similar slightly Gypsy-rsque tone to it. Fischer alludes to a historic xylophone used in the torture chamber sequence, and it is caught very well by the recording and is very effective indeed. Fischer produces effect after effect which are just wonderful, and the final 15 minutes are SO beautiful and affecting, more than I ever recall.
Little touches make such a difference-Fischer substitutes quiet sad sighs from the chorus (I suspect the orchestra in this case) with a sharp intake of breath through the teeth-a sort of "don't go there!" sound-just wonderful.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Klingsor Tristan VINE VOICE on 20 Sep 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
There is little to say but to endorse Mr. Crowe's excellent and enthusiastic review. Here indeed is a recording and a performance of Bluebeard that finally topples my personal favourite - the Decca/Kertesz with husband and wife (at the time) team of Berry and Ludwig from 1965 - from the top of the pile. From the very beginning you know you are in good hands. Here we have the Prologue, in Hungarian, delivered with great presence and atmosphere by the conductor himself, no less. The orchestra enters where it should - before the last stanza of the spoken text. When Bluebeard appears, one is suddenly and totally aware just how important it is in this opera that the Hungarian words should sound comfortable and idiomatic - as they do here in the wonderfully rich voice of Laszlo Polgar. Komlosi, too, is in fine Slavic form as his new wife, Judith.

But it is Fischer and his Budapest Festival players who make this performance such a memorable experience. His tempi are always perfectly judged. Often there is an urgency and a dramatic pushing forward to his speeds - it is remarkable just how many piu agitato and the like or, conversely, allargando markings there are in the score - but, without having checked the multitude of metronome markings Bartok supplies, I can only say that it always feels absolutely right. And the colouring - so important in this piece - is beautifully pointed throughout; whether the dry rattle of the special keyboard xylophone, newly discovered in the vaults of the Opera House, for the torture chamber; the martial trumpet and horn of the armoury; the rippling celesta and solo violin in the treasury; or the warmth of the horn over harps and celesta in the castle's secret garden.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A TRULY MEMORABLE BLUEBEARD 1 Oct 2011
By Klingsor Tristan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Here is a recording and a performance of Bluebeard that finally topples my personal favourite - the Decca/Kertesz with husband and wife (at the time) team of Berry and Ludwig from 1965 - from the top of the pile. From the very beginning you know you are in good hands. Here we have the Prologue, in Hungarian, delivered with great presence and atmosphere by the conductor himself, no less. The orchestra enters where it should - before the last stanza of the spoken text. When Bluebeard appears, one is suddenly and totally aware just how important it is in this opera that the Hungarian words should sound comfortable and idiomatic - as they do here in the wonderfully rich voice of Laszlo Polgar. Komlosi, too, is in fine Slavic form as his new wife, Judith.

But it is Fischer and his Budapest Festival players who make this performance such a memorable experience. His tempi are always perfectly judged. Often there is an urgency and a dramatic pushing forward to his speeds - it is remarkable just how many piu agitato and the like or, conversely, allargando markings there are in the score - but, without having checked the multitude of metronome markings Bartok supplies, I can only say that it always feels absolutely right in context. And the colouring - so important in this piece - is beautifully pointed throughout; whether the dry rattle of the special keyboard xylophone, newly discovered in the vaults of the Budapest Opera House, for the torture chamber; the martial trumpet and horn of the armoury; the rippling celesta and solo violin in the treasury; or the warmth of the horn over harps and celesta in the castle's secret garden. Bluebeard's domain blazes out with musica di scena brass and organ as awe-inspiringly as it should and clearly does for a dazed Judith. The Lake of Tears combines the implacable flutter of woodwind, harps and celesta with the huge weight of bitter experience in the strings. Indeed, it is through the last pages of the score, where the exotic instrumentation of the first six doors gives way to more conventional orchestration, that one realises what a profoundly moving experience Fischer and his team have given us. The last big orchestral passage, when Bluebeard is forced to send Judith into the darkness with his other wives, is simply overwhelming.

Fischer and his Budapest forces have been giving us performance after performance (especially his Mahler) that really make one sit up and take notice - for their attention to the score, for the level-headedness, but above all for their innate musicality. This recording is up among the best of them.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Another striking recording of a charmed work 25 Feb 2013
By Ralph Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Like previous reviewers, I find that this opera exercises a peculiar fascination over me. It offers a perfect fusion of drama, music, poetry and psychological acuity and moral ambiguity all presented in one enthralling Gesamtkunstwerk lasting just under an hour. In common, too, with previous reviewers, I suspect that it s best experienced either in concert performance or in the solitary confines of one's own listening room, perhaps even through headphones, where the effect can be especially chilling and disturbing. I remember in particular the scalp-prickling thrill I felt as the lock turns and the first door swings open to the accompaniment of those unworldly sighs from the lips of unseen denizens.

That was on listening to the famous recording conducted by Kertész with Christa Ludwig and Walter Berry which is still one of my favourite versions, alongside that by another Hungarian Fischer, Ádám, with Samuel Ramey and Eva Marton and Solti's with Kovats and Sass. This one by Iván Fischer is certainly excellent without displacing those favourites. I very much like having the verse by Béla Balázs intoned over the Prologue, here spoken by the conductor without quite achieving the haunting, mesmeric quality we hear in Istvan Sztankay's delivery for Solti or that by the uncredited speaker on the live broadcast from Cardiff by Mark Elder in 1992; Fischer is rather matter-of-fact.

The orchestral colouring from the Budapest Festival Orchestra here is remarkably spicy and somehow "ethnic" sounding, with hoarse clarinets, fluttery flutes and blaring brass. Laszló Polgár certainly has one of the most beautiful and resonant basses to have undertaken the role of Bluebeard and he has excellent diction, as has his Judith, veteran Ildikó Komlósi. I am less happy about her rather pronounced vibrato which verges on a wobble and she definitely yields to Ludwig, Sass and even Marton, who could also wobble but has it under control for Adam Fischer. I find no conductor as exciting and energised as Kertész and in truth I think Fischer is here too restrained at times but his is a subtle approach, exploiting the peculiarly individual timbres generated by his Hungarian musicians. However, the great C major blast for the opening of the Fifth Door onto Bluebeard's kingdom is fully effective - very grand.

I should also mention the wonderful English version from 1962 for a slightly different experience but this has not yet been commercially released on CD.
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