Bartok: Duke Bluebeard’s Castle

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Bartok
LABELS: Antes
WORKS: Duke Bluebeard’s Castle
PERFORMER: Katalin Szendrenyi (soprano), Mihaly Kalmandi (baritone); Badische Staatskapelle/Gunter Neuhold
CATALOGUE NO: BM-CD 31.9052
I commended Haitink’s EMI recording of Bluebeard in September for including the opening narration, and am happy to do the same here. Moreover, this new version comes with the advantage of an all-Hungarian cast, so there is no problem in conveying all the flexibility of Bartók’s speech rhythms. In other respects, however, these singers can hardly stand comparison with the best of their rivals – Anne Sofie von Otter and John Tomlinson for Haitink, or Eva Marton and Samuel Ramey on Adam Fischer’s Sony version. In particular, Katalin Szendrényi sounds rather strained at the top end of her range. Günter Neuhold conducts sympathetically, and the opera’s climax is commendably intense; but the orchestra is no more than adequate. The lack of a libretto is regrettable. Misha Donat

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