If music were the only language involved here, both performances would justify the highest accolades. In fact, the Bartok recording actually earned itself a Grand Prix du Disque in 1961. However, Bluebeard's castle in particular carries the burden of a German translation which, even as early as Bluebeard's opening phrase, proves rhythmically disruptive. There are a few minor musical cuts, all of which seem to me rather pointless; then, at the beginning of track 3 (at the point just before Judith describes the seven bolted doors), there's a prominent added chord, topped by tam-tam. One wonders whether Fricsay was working from an unpublished revision; I've certainly never heard either the cuts or the textual addition in any other context. Read more />
As to the singers, Fischer-Dieskau is as compelling here as in his later Hungarian-language version under Sawallisch, although the earlier recording finds him in somewhat fresher voice. Hertha Topper gives an intensely moving portrayal of Judith, even though she does at times sport a rather intrusive vibrato. However, the real star of the show is Fricsay, whose immaculate timing, fastidious phrasing and acute feeling for instrumental texture (try the crystal-clear timpani and beautifully turned harp 'quiver' in "Lake of Tears", track 11) are a consistent source of pleasure. The recording, too, is excellent for its years, save that the voices are rather too close and the strings thin on top. I'd say that anyone interested in hearing a master conductor shape and colour one of Bartek's greatest works should make a special effort to hear this reissue.
Bluebeard's Castle, Op. 11/Sz 48by Béla Bartók Performer:
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone),
Hertha Töpper (Alto)
Berlin RIAS Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1911/1918; Budapest, Hungary Date of Recording: 10/1958 Venue: Christ Church, Berlin, Germany Length: 54 Minutes 7 Secs. Language: German
Cantata Profana, Sz 94by Béla Bartók Performer:
Helmut Krebs (Tenor),
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone)
Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus,
St. Hedwig's Cathedral Choir,
Berlin RIAS Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1930; Budapest, Hungary Date of Recording: 09/1951 Venue: Christ Church, Berlin, Germany Length: 18 Minutes 42 Secs. Language: German Notes: This selection is a mono recording.
Bluebeard's Castle, Sz. 48 (Op.11): Wir sind am Ziele
Bluebeard's Castle, Sz. 48 (Op.11): Dies ist also Blaubarts Feste
Bluebeard's Castle, Sz. 48 (Op.11): Große schweigende Türen
Bluebeard's Castle, Sz. 48 (Op.11): Weh - was siehst Du?
Bluebeard's Castle, Sz. 48 (Op.11): Was siehst - Tausend scharfe Waffen
Bluebeard's Castle, Sz. 48 (Op.11): Sieh nur den Schatz
Bluebeard's Castle, Sz. 48 (Op.11): Ach! Blumenpracht
Bluebeard's Castle, Sz. 48 (Op.11): Ah! - Sieh, soweit die Blicke reichen
Bluebeard's Castle, Sz. 48 (Op.11): Weißes stilles Wasser seh ich
Bluebeard's Castle, Sz. 48 (Op.11): Schau, die früher'n Frauen all
Bluebeard's Castle, Sz. 48 (Op.11): Früh am Morgen kam die erste
Cantata Profana, BB.100, Sz.94 - The Nine Splendid Stags: "Wunder hört ihr sagen" Molto moderato - Allegro molto
Cantata Profana, BB.100, Sz.94 - The Nine Splendid Stags: "Lange harrt der Alte" Andante
Cantata Profana, BB.100, Sz.94 - The Nine Splendid Stags: "Wunder ward euch kund heut'" Moderato
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Wonderful Classic RecordingOctober 12, 2013By Henry S. (Springfield, VA)See All My Reviews"Bela Bartok's one act opera Bluebeard's Castle is a superb listening experience, even if one normally is not strongly attracted to Bartok's complex and often difficult compositional style. The work is rather unconventional, in that it has only 2 characters plus the orchestra. The legendary baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and alto Hertha Topper deliver a sensational interpretation of Bartok's psychologically forbidding libretto, which in this recording is sung in German instead of Hungarian. Fischer-Dieskau creates a compelling Bluebeard, perhaps bordering on the edge of insanity and driven to extremes of power and domination of Judith (Topper). Likewise, Topper's performance creates an intensely diverse mix of emotions and atmospherics- trust, doubt, wonder, terror, fatalism- incredible! The intonations, vocal dynamics, colorations of both are simply outstanding, and the overall effect is one of absolute integrity. Completing the picture is the superb orchestral playing of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Hungarian conductor Ferenc Fricsay, who clearly understands Bartok's intentions. In short, this is a legitimate member of Deutsche Grammophone's Legendary Recordings series and deserves to be heard by opera fans who savor singing of great intensity and integrity. The concluding work on the disk is Cantata profana, a work for 2 male voices, chorus, and orchestra. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is joined by tenor Helmut Krebs,the RIAS Chamber Choir, and the Choir of St. Hedwigs Cathedral to tell a tragic and poignant story, which I suspect is based on Hungarian folk tales. Recorded in mono in the 1950's, the sound quality of this work suffers not a bit due to its age and the recording technology of the time. Wonderfully sung by all, Cantata profana is a worthy complement to Bluebeard's Castle, thus making the entire recording a joy to the ear. Fans of choral music and opera should find this 50 year old recording to be essential listening and a true landmark artistic achievement. Absolutely recommended."Report Abuse
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