Bartók: Bluebeard’s Castle / Mälkki, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra

Release Date: 3/19/2021
Label: BIS
Catalog Number: BIS-2388
Composer: Béla Bartók
Number of Discs: 1
Length: 59 Minutes

Physical Format:

SACD
In Stock
$19.99
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Composed in 1911, Bluebeard’s Castle is Béla Bartók’s only opera – a radical masterpiece which has secured a place alongside the other innovative music dramas of the same period, from Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande to Berg’s Wozzeck. Planning to write a one-act opera, Bartók settled on a libretto by Béla Balázs with the kind of surreal and/or macabre themes that would soon feature in his two ballets, The Wooden Prince and The Miraculous Mandarin. The main source for the libretto text was a play by Maeterlinck, a retelling of Perrault’s gruesome tale of Barbe-Bleue, the sinister yet strangely seductive wife-killer. Balázs turned the drama into what he called a ‘mystery play’, however, and his stylization of the story throws the weight of the drama onto stage-setting and music. The single act centers on the successive opening of the castle’s seven doors, and Bartók’s music brings across the horrors of the blood-drenched torture chamber, the steely power of the armory and the glitter of jewels in the treasury as well as the interplay of increasingly feverish questionings from Judit and defiant responses from Bluebeard. Susanna Mälkki and the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra have already proved their Bartók credentials with a disc of his ballet scores which was chosen as Record of the Week in BBC Radio 3 Record Review and earned top marks in Diapason and on the website Klassik-Heute. Joined by Mika Kares as Duke Bluebeard and his Judit, the Hungarian mezzo-soprano Szilvia Vörös, the team here performs Bartók’s darkly glittering, shimmering and threatening score in a live recording from 2020.

 

REVIEW:

 

Mezzo soprano Szilvia Vörös copes very well with the demands of her role. When the Fifth Door is flung open, Vörös’s scream - for that’s what it is - is simply hair-raising. As always, BIS complete the package with excellent notes, and, in this case, a legible, attractively presented libretto.

 

Although Mälkki’s Bluebeard doesn’t supplant the best in the catalogue, it deserves a place alongside them; as for the sound, it’s well up to the high standards of the house.

 

– MusicWeb International

Works on This Recording
1. Prologue: Haj regő rejtem (Once upon a time) (Bard) by Béla Bartók
Performer: Géza Szilvay (Narrator), Mika Kares (Bass), Szilvia Vörös (Mezzo-soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: 1911 ;
2. Megérkeztünk. Íme lássad (Here we are now. Now at last you see) (Bluebeard, Judith) by Béla Bartók
Performer: Géza Szilvay (Narrator), Mika Kares (Bass), Szilvia Vörös (Mezzo-soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: 1911 ;
3. Jaj! - Mit látsz? (1. Ajto) (Woe! What seest thou? (Door 1)) (Judith, Bluebeard) by Béla Bartók
Performer: Géza Szilvay (Narrator), Mika Kares (Bass), Szilvia Vörös (Mezzo-soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: 1911 ;
4. Mit látsz? - Száz kegyetlen szörnyű fegyver (2. Ajto) (What seest thou? Piles of cruel arms and armour (Door 2)) (Bluebeard, Judith) by Béla Bartók
Performer: Géza Szilvay (Narrator), Mika Kares (Bass), Szilvia Vörös (Mezzo-soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: 1911 ;
5. Oh, be sok kincs! (3. Ajto) (Mountains of gold! (Door 3)) (Judith, Bluebeard) by Béla Bartók
Performer: Géza Szilvay (Narrator), Mika Kares (Bass), Szilvia Vörös (Mezzo-soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: 1911 ;
6. Oh! Virágok! (4. Ajto) (Ah! Tender flowers! (Door 4)) (Judith, Bluebeard) by Béla Bartók
Performer: Géza Szilvay (Narrator), Mika Kares (Bass), Szilvia Vörös (Mezzo-soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: 1911 ;
7. Ah! Lásd ez az én birodalmam (5. Ajto) (See, this is my domain! (Door 5)) (Judith, Bluebeard) by Béla Bartók
Performer: Géza Szilvay (Narrator), Mika Kares (Bass), Szilvia Vörös (Mezzo-soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: 1911 ;
8. Csendes fehér tavat látok (6. Ajto) (I can see a sheet of water (Door 6)) (Judith, Bluebeard) by Béla Bartók
Performer: Géza Szilvay (Narrator), Mika Kares (Bass), Szilvia Vörös (Mezzo-soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: 1911 ;
9. Lásd a régi aszszonyokat (7. Ajto) (Hearts that I have loved and cherished (Door 7)) (Bluebeard, Judith) by Béla Bartók
Performer: Géza Szilvay (Narrator), Mika Kares (Bass), Szilvia Vörös (Mezzo-soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: 1911 ;
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