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Bluebeard's Castle

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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£31.99 Only 5 left in stock. Dispatched from and sold by WORLD WIDE MEDIA MARKET (12-24 Days for Delivery from California).

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Product details

  • Audio CD (25 Oct. 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B0000026NQ
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 540,438 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
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Format: Audio CD
I bought this recording as a supplement to the famous Kertész Decca account with the superb Walter Berry and his equally impressive then wife, Christa Ludwig (see my review). I have always admired enormously the voices of both Sam Ramey and Eva Marton and had heard good things about this disc. I love it; it is clearly a glorious account but I do not think that it necessarily surpasses the Kertész version. Ramey is in his prime; his beautiful, keenly focused, inky-dark bass is perfect to encompass Bluebeard's sadness, tenderness and underlying menace. Marton, while not as varied and subtle as Ludwig, is able to refine her big sound to suggest Judith's youth and vulnerability as well as her impetuous, importunate (dare I say very feminine?) stubborness. Some have criticised her vibrato as too broad but it is here very much under control and I love it when she unleashes her voice. In addition to the excellence of the two soloists, I must praise both the sound engineering and the superb orchestral playing; every detail in score emerges and I simply cannot understand those few reviewers who express disappointment with the standard of conducting and the playing of the Hungarian orchestra. Fischer takes a more more restrained approach to the score than the impassioned Kertész but that gives it a dreaminess appropriate to this strange, haunting, Symbolist nightmare. Kertész is more dramatic - particularly in the justly celebrated opening of the fifth door onto Bluebeard's vast kingdom - but there is also room for Fischer's more grandiose and stately interpretation.Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8bbf2720) out of 5 stars 8 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c341f78) out of 5 stars Another excellent recording of a great 20th Century classic 10 April 2009
By Ralph Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I bought this recording as a supplement to the famous Kertész Decca account with the superb Walter Berry and his equally impressive then wife, Christa Ludwig (see my review). I have always admired enormously the voices of both Sam Ramey and Eva Marton and had heard good things about this disc. I love it; it is clearly a glorious account but I do not think that it necessarily surpasses the Kertész version. Ramey is in his prime; his beautiful, keenly focused, inky-dark bass is perfect to encompass Bluebeard's sadness, tenderness and underlying menace. Marton, while not as varied and subtle as Ludwig, is able to refine her big sound to suggest Judith's youth and vulnerability as well as her impetuous, importunate (dare I say very feminine?) stubborness. Some have criticised her vibrato as too broad but it is here very much under control and I love it when she unleashes her voice. In addition to the excellence of the two soloists, I must praise both the sound engineering and the superb orchestral playing; every detail in score emerges and I simply cannot understand those few reviewers who express disappointment with the standard of conducting and the playing of the Hungarian orchestra. Fischer takes a more more restrained approach to the score than the impassioned Kertész but that gives it a dreaminess appropriate to this strange, haunting, Symbolist nightmare. Kertész is more dramatic - particularly in the justly celebrated opening of the fifth door onto Bluebeard's vast kingdom - but there is also room for Fischer's more grandiose and stately interpretation. There should not be any objections to this recording on the grounds of authenticity; contrary to previous assertions that Marton is American, she was born in Budapest in 1943 and is thus echt Hungarian, and Ramey has always had an excellent ear for languages, so he sounds pretty authentic to my untutored ears - and I do love the unexpected, muscular strangeness of the language (part of the Finno-Ugric language group and hence wholly unfamiliar to anyone used to hearing opera sung in a Teutonic, Slavonic or Latinate tongue).

Unfortunately, my older copy which I found on Marketplace, contained no notes, resume or libretto - and the words really are essential to proper appreciation of the drama. (PS: I am informed below that it does in fact come with a full libretto so mine must have been missing.) I could also wish that a recital, or at least the text, of the introductory poem by poet, playwright and librettist Béla Balázs had been included as a preface to the recording; it makes an atmospheric curtain-raiser. I used the booklet from the classic Decca edition, but you really must have have a libretto.

Anyone like me who is more of a Strauss lover than a dévoté of twelve-tone composition need not hesitate; this a wholly absorbing performance of a chilling, psychologically penetrating and endlessly fascinating masterpiece.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c3451e0) out of 5 stars Bartoks' Masterpiece With Samuel Ramey and Eva Marton 1 Feb. 2005
A Kid's Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
First of all, this album is the most dramatic version of Bartok's opera, whose powerful bass/baritone and soprano leads are the real force of the opera. The drama and dynamic force of the original opera is heightened and the music swells with intensity. The world-renowned bass Samuel Ramey makes a terrific and frightening, diabolical Bluebeard. The equally successful diva Eva Marton makes a dramatic and tormented Wife. The forces of Ramey and Marton are the attraction towards this recording. It is indeed very thrilling to hear them portray the evil Bluebeard and his victim. I think this is a great album but if you want to know a little truth, a lesser known truth at that - Bela Bartok himself would not approve of this. Why ? Because he would have favored authentic, native Hungarians in the two roles and because musically, it must be more toned-down in the intensity and more eerie, slow, haunting and dream-like. Bartok wrote this opera at a time when surrealism and Freudian, psychological nightmarish works were being portrayed in the arts...i.e. The Scream by Munch. This movement towards the nightmarish and surreal reflected the modern period of World War I. For a more true concept of the work get the recording with Antal Dorati conducting. That one features native Hungarians in the duo cast and Dorati himself was trained to be a conductor in Bartok's music by Bartok himself!!!

But this album is very dramatic and attractive. I own this one along with the Antal Dorati version. Samuel Ramey is absolutely frightening as Bluebeard!! The Hungarian voice which he uses is intense, dark and sinister but royal, in the vein of Bela Lugosi. Bluebeard is a wealthy ex-pirate who has become a wealthy lord of a castle. He has married several times but all his wives have been brutally murdered. His current victim is unaware of his dark past but when she starts snooping into forbidden chambers, she becomes his latest prey. The diabolical role becomes supernatural and symbolic in many ways. He is a symbol for evil, he is a dark man, a Devil, and the haunting Gothic imagery- a sea of blood, dead wives buried under the castle a la Edgar Allan Poe style as well as the labyrinth in the garden are all examples of the eerie and chilling effects of a Gothic Opera.

Ramey has made a name for himself in portraying nearly al the villains of Opera in the bass/baritone category - the villains in Offenbach's Tales Of Hoffman, the Devil in Gounod's Faust, Scarpia in Puccini's Tosca, Iago in Verdi's Macbeth, Boito's own Mefistofele among others. Opposite his devilish Bluebeard is the dramatic victim that is Eva Marton. Though her voice is quite big, Wagnerian even, she uses subtlety and lyricism to evoke innocence and helplessness. I would have preferred that a lighter soprano played the hapless Wife of Bluebeard because artistically it seems more appropirate - a dark and towering Devil next to an angelic and vulnerable heroine. But Eva Marton makes a great performance that can't be ignored. She's up to paar with the charismatic bass singing opposite her. Think of her performance as a diva caught in a dire situation, enough reason to overact dramatically. This is a great album and a fine dramatic take on Bluebeard's Gothic and bloodcurdling opera.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c3456cc) out of 5 stars Bartok's Gothic Opera 22 Oct. 2005
By Rudy Avila - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
While I cannot repeat what the other review states, I can only say that he seems to be wrong about Samuel Ramey being Hungarian. Soprano Eva Marton is Hungarian and is doing a marvelous job as the newest victim of the devilish Bluebeard. The story is dark and symbolic. Bluebeard (not Bluebeard the Pirate) is a wealthy property owner who lives in a foreboding castle. He has just married wife No. 3. He warns her not to wander to a certain part of the castle. Naturally, curiosity gets the best of her and she searches the forbidden area despite his orders. What she finds there reveals a darker side to her husband. Eva Marton has a huge voice that fully captures every nunance of this character. Ramey has a terrific voice with all the right earthy and devilish tone for the part. Adam Fischer conducts Hungarian forces in Bartok's great work of Gothic and surreal drama.
HASH(0x8c345780) out of 5 stars Ramey sings a noble Duke 21 Aug. 2012
By Living Horus - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Bartok's powerful sixty minute psychodrama first performed on May 24, 1918, makes for compelling listening. It is a standout work among early Twentieth Century opera and has been well served by recording companies over the years. It's heady mix of symbolism and suppressed sexuality make this less of an opera and more of a symbolist dialogue between husband and wife with dark, murderous undertones. The gorgeous imagery of the libretto is faithfully expressed in Bartok's music and Adam Fischer's reading of the score is luminescent. As the door's gradually unlock and expose Bluebeards hidden world to the eyes of his enquiring spouse, Fischer builds up from the quietest of beginnings, almost imperceptible at first.

Samuel Ramey makes Bluebeard a noble and melancholy figure. It's a beautifully sung portrayal, the role sits nicely for his voice and he sings in Hungarian well. He rises to great passionate heights when he describes his spacious kingdom at the opening of the fifth door. Up until this point his Bluebeard seems to be more resigned than menacing, giving the character an air of acceptance of the inevitable events that consequently occur having given Judith all of the keys to his castle. It's a rich, sensuous portrait.

Eva Marton, with her dark hued soprano, makes an earthy Judith. She's more determined than seductive in her attempts to gain the keys to Bluebeards castle and the lower lying range of the character in the first half of the opera brings out some beautiful dark shades to the the timbre of her voice. Marton sounds more comfortable in the upper range that Judith moves into as the opera progresses and she is steadier here than on a lot of her later recordings.

The Hungarian State Orchestra respond beautifully to Adam Fischer's direction and benefit from nicely balanced engineering. The organ is as imposing as it should be and adds to the profundity of the opening of the fifth door and the brass particularly effective in the opening of the sixth door.

It's impossible not to be moved by this most majestic of music when recorded with a depth of sound like this. A far as recordings of Bluebeard's Castle go, this is one of the better.

Ramey's noble Duke and Marton's mysterious Judith create a sense of intimacy with the listener and completely draw one into Bartok's shadowy realm. A excellent and atmoshpheric recording.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read the unabridged review at [...]
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c345438) out of 5 stars A Bluebeard to enjoy but not to treasure 18 May 2006
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Because it requires only two singers and a conductor in sympathy with Bartok's quasi-gothic melodrama, you'd think Bluebeard's Castle would be easy to record. Yet such estimable conductors as Boulez and Dorati have come up with duds; we are still waiting for a modern set to compete with the remarkably vivid Kertesz recording from the mid-Sixties. That's an unmissable performance, one that put Bluebeard on the map, but this Sony set is more than respectable. It has excellent sound, fine orchestral playing, and Adam Fischer's committed, if not inspired, conducting. Of the two principals, Ramey excels because of his gorgeous, steady bass, but Marton, a native Hungarian, turns in a generalized big-voice reading a la Jessye Norman, and her tone wobbles under pressure. Even so, I got a lot of enjoyment from this set.
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