Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Bela Bartok, Istvan Kertesz, London Symphony Orchestra|
Bartók: Duke Bluebeard's Castle / Kertész, Ludwig, Berry
No Description Available. Genre: Classical Music Media Format: Compact Disk Rating: Release Date: 14-SEP-1999
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No Description Available.
Genre: Classical Music
Media Format: Compact Disk
Release Date: 14-SEP-1999
Bartok composed a winner here... and Kertesz amazes...
Rachel Howard | ocklawaha, Florida United States | 08/17/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As does Walter Berry and Christa Ludwig. This is an emotionally wrenching opera, and the forces gathered here triumph with it. I will not join the debate over whether singers who are born to Hungarian should be the only kind allowed to touch this opera... Oh well, I lied.... Here we go. I do not know Hungarian well enough to know if Berry and Ludwig are idiomatic. Kertesz, I assume, is idiomatic in his conducting. After all, if I remember correctly, he and Bartok are countrymen. What counts to me is this- do the cast members wrench my heart out of my chest, wring it dry, then throw it back at me and say, "Here! Heal yourself, fool, if you can!"? This cast does. As almost anyone reading this knows, Ludwig and Berry were husband and wife at the time this was recorded, and they have that special rapport two people who know each other well should have.Ludwig is shrewish and excruciatingly importunate as the nosy Judith. There is a sexual and sensual tension that hangs in the air in this atmospheric recording that is almost palpable. I almost feel the dank moisture of Bluebeard's Castle and can easily see the shadowy depths in my mind's eye. When the light breaks in at the 5th door, I can feel the luxuriance of Bluebeard's vast estate, his immense pride for his hard-won holdings and his tender, desperate love for his latest wife. All it seems to be to Judith is a goad to her curiosity and a reminder that this man is more than she can even begin to comprehend. Kertesz, in the liner notes, states plainly that Judith is the villain in this opus, and I have to agree. Christa Ludwig catches this woman's character. By turns, she is concerned, `loving', frightened, angry, curous... well, you name it..., while not once noticing her man's feelings and his desperation.Walter Berry feels it, however, and he displays it for all the world to see. If this wife fails him, he is doomed to live in dark splendor, lonely from then unto the farthest reaches of Eternity. To those who are only familiar with the fairy tail, this is a different Bluebeard, though his reputation within the opera is just as bloody. It is rumored that Bluebeard is basically Bartok himself. While I cannot personally vouch for the truth of that assertion as far as Bela Bartok is concerned, I know how lonely being an artist can be. Everyone wants to know your secrets, (Naturally, I do not decry this, but much of the curiosity is morbid, as though the artist was a specimen being studied and dissected.) and curiosity of that kind can be destructive to the Self. Anyway, Kertesz imprints that basic theme deeply into the fabric of this performance.As for the voices- Walter Berry had the requisite power and emotional weight to carry this role, and he has the best voice, for sheer voice, I've heard in the more recent recordings. (For my money, the greatest Bluebeard I've ever heard is Jerome Hines, in an old recording with Rosalind Elias as Judith and Eugene Ormandy conducting. Purists are warned, however- the Hines recording is in English.) As for Christa Ludwig- she had a spectacular voice, always in the service of the character. She's my favorite Judith, with Rosalind Elias coming up really close. What a blessing Ludwig was and is, through her recordings, for the world of music!The sound is excellent, befitting the atmosphere of this composition perfectly. The ending, so calm, so deceivingly peaceful, will curdle your blood..."
DAVID BRYSON | Glossop Derbyshire England | 11/11/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For 1965 the sound-quality on this disc is quite extraordinarily good - it would be that in 2004 - and Decca have every right to be proud of it. Everyone concerned has a right to be proud of the performance too. Ludwig and Berry are not only in superb voice, they seem to me to have penetrated to the heart of this dark and wonderful allegory. In the discussion that forms part of the liner-note Ludwig interrupts at one point to disagree with a certain view of Judith that she hears being expressed. No harm in that - this particular story is full of mystery. Only so much certainty is possible, and the ambiguity is essential to its power and magic.
For any music-lover struggling with Bartok - say with the quartets or the first piano concerto - this, or maybe the better-known violin concerto, would be the doors through which I would suggest approaching him. Purely at the musical level the idiom is modern without being forbidding or particularly challenging. Indeed the orchestration in Bluebeard is among the most thrilling I have ever heard, and Kertesz and the LSO (then at its very peak) do it proud. This is a short drama - a story like this can only be stretched out for a finite length - and the dark and sinister sense of fear and foreboding must never relax in performance, nor do they in this performance. The story is a powerfully convincing one to me, and I do not know how many of my own sex I can speak for, although I suspect it's most of us. In my view, which is a totally impressionistic and unscientific one as far as this is concerned, a man has a mental and emotional hinterland that nobody should try to trespass on. `Nobody' means not wife, not parent, not child, not the closest friend. It is irrespective of the most intense love that may be involved, and it can come up against an equally deep-seated female urge to know the man in her life as deeply as she can. It will not, in many cases, involve anything particularly dark, dramatic or seeming to demand secrecy, but I sense rightly or wrongly that it is a basic part of the male psyche. What this whole story dramatises with intense effect is the self-destructive power of the clash between these basic male and female tendencies. Bluebeard and Judith are not individuals in my view but types, and nowhere could provide a more atmospheric background for this modern morality-play than the seemingly `transylvanian' castle where Bluebeard and Judith open the doors that should perhaps not have been opened.
It all lasts not quite an hour, and far from leaving me emotionally drained as I might have expected it left me even exhilarated by the sheer truthfulness of it, to say nothing of the quite wonderful music and the quite wonderful way it is enacted. The English version of the libretto struck me as slightly odd with its stilted idiom, thou's thine's and similar nonsense until I saw who it was by - Christopher Hassall, the man who killed Walton's Troilus and Cressida at birth or before. I suppose he was responsible for the English version of the stage-directions too, as I took leave of the drama with the wives of Bluebeard progressing along a beam of `moonshine'. As well as the main liner-note, Decca have understandably and very helpfully included a technical leaflet on the recording technology which, as I have said, is something they are very entitled to preen themselves on. I only wondered why with so much top technology at their disposal they could not have got the leaflet to fit the box a bit more exactly."
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 05/31/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Though we are fortunate to have several recordings of Bela Bartok's sole opera "Bluebeard's Castle" on CD today, this old recording with Kertesz conducting the huge orchestral sound of the LSO to join with Walter Berry's and Christa Ludwig's impeccable characterizations is still the best available. The other worldly sounds of the opening of each of the seven doors in the darkly sinister castle that will be the home for yet another wife for Bluebeard continue to create sublime illusions of every scene described. Richly sung and passionately conducted, don't let the age of this recording deter you adding it to your collection. Excellent on every level. Even the sonics sound completely modern!"