Notes & Reviews:
Valery Gergiev is joined by two outstanding singers for his latest LSO Live release featuring Bartok's one-act opera. Despite being one of the greatest ever interpreters of the role of Bluebeard on stage, this is Sir Willard White's first complete recording of Bluebeard's Castle. His Judith is the outstanding young Russian-born, Berlin-based mezzo Elena Zhidkova. Bartok's only opera is a dark and intense work, involving only two characters. Bluebeard's young bride persuades him to open seven doors in his castle in order to let light into the grim interior. Behind each she finds increasingly disturbing sights, until behind the final door she discovers Bluebeard's former wives and learns her fate.
For the perfect introduction to Bart=k's Bluebeard look no further. àthe pivotal moment is the sombre burbling of the lake of tearsà where Judith is transfixed by the water's unearthly hush and Bluebeard explains, "tears, my Judith, tears, tearsà". Gergiev sustains a pretty slow tempo while clarinet and low strings embrace both protagonists with long, expressive lines. The opera's later episodes, such as the accelerating blood-rush as Judith susses the shocking truth (Gergiev and his players are on tremendous form here), Bluebeard pondering his past wives and the overwhelming moment when Judith at last joins them, all suggest similar levels of thoughtfulness, sense of theatre and sensitivity to mood.
Sonority wins over emotional display with Willard White's Duke, but Elena Zhidkova makes partial amends as the anguished Judit.
bbc.co.uk - Michael Quinn
Gergiev takes to the potent compound of searing psychology, soaring poetry... with characteristic gusto, at pains to stress the pulsing drama at the heart of the seemingly undramatic premise of the work... White's Bluebeard is a biting, granite-edged performance of inscrutable and intimidating stature.
BBC Music Magazine
Gergiev and his superlative orchestral forces and vocal soloists, supported by magnificent sound quality, present the enigmatic piece with great power, leaving us, as adequate performances always do, feeling stunned and somewhat bewildered. Willard White's Bluebeard, exceptionally firm of tone, implacable but tormented without ever indulging his pain, is magnificent. He needs to be to counter the superb Elena Zhidkova...
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Works DetailsBéla Bartók (Composer) (1881 - 1945) : Duke Bluebeard's Castle (A kékszakkallú Herceg Vára), opera in one act, Sz. 48, BB 62 (Op. 11)
- Performers: Elena Zhidkova (Mezzo Soprano); Willard White (Bass Baritone)
- Conductor: Valery Gergiev
- Ensemble: London Symphony Orchestra
- Notes: Barbican London (01/27/2009/01/29/2009)
- Running Time: 58 min. 6 sec.
- Period Time: Modern
- Form: Opera/Operetta
- Written: 1911
- Studio/Live: Live