28 February 2012

Bartók: Bluebeard's Castle

EAC | APE, CUE, LOG | 1 CD, Covers, Book | 250Mb
62:54 min. | CD date: October 22 1996 | EMI
Bluebeard's Castle: Prologue & Opening
Bluebeard's Castle: First Door (The Torture Chamber)
Bluebeard's Castle: Second Door (The Armoury)
Bluebeard's Castle: Third Door (The Treasury)
Bluebeard's Castle: Fourth Door (The Secret Garden)
Bluebeard's Castle: Fifth Door (Bluebeard's Kingdom)
Bluebeard's Castle: Sixth Door (Tears)
Bluebeard's Castle: Seventh Door (Bluebeard's Former Wives)
John Tomlinson (Bass), Bluebeard
Anne Sofie von Otter (Mezzosoprano), Judith
Sandor Eles (Spoken vocals), Narrator
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Bernard Haitink
This recording, taped from 'live' performances at the Philharmonie in Berlin in 1996, was greeted with much acclaim upon its appearance – and rightly so. Throughout, Haitink and the Berlin Philharmonic strive for a note-perfect rendering of the score that does not sound the least bit contrived. Much attention is paid to the atmospherical aspects of the music, revealing the conductor's realisation of the composer's intentions.
Anne Sofie von Otter is a sublime, sweet-voiced 'Judith' who manages without effort to adopt the swift mood-changes her character demands; and John Tomlinson gives us a dark-hued, though undistinguished, Bluebeard. The oration that precedes the opera-proper is effectively undertaken by Sandor Elès, brilliantly creating the spooky ambience. Although none of the artists involved in this recording (save for the narrator) are Hungarian, it has been applauded for its faithfulness to the language – thanks, no less, to efficient language-coaching.
Anne Sofie von Otter Already from the opening music one is likely to recall Debussy's Pelléas, and Haitink's reputation as an accomplished Debussyian serves him in good stead. Accompaniment is duly sensitive, echoing in every phrase and turn the characters' lyrical exchanges; and most times setting the pace for abrupt shifts of mood.
Sample, for example, the final bars of the Prologue, where a sense of unease underlines Judith's impending doom: what superb orchestral response Haitink (left) draws from the Berliners! The loveliest music can be heard when Judith opens the sixth door to Bluebeard's 'Lake of Tears', and the characters' plaintive exchanges are most memorable.
It would surely be a mistake to overlook this, surely one of Bartók's masterpieces in any genre; and Haitink's recording, no doubt, is one to suit all tastes!
by Chua Gan Ee


matongsai said...

Thanks a lot.

fp00 said...

I cannot find the password for Bartók: Bluebeard's Castle (Haitink)!