Last evening I attended a most intriguing experience at the San Francisco Symphony. If at all possible Bay Area Inmates who love classical music should check it out the performance of Bartok's "Bluebeard Castle", a single act opera featuring just two soloists. There is no need to be an opera lover to appreciate this Bartok composition. I was drawn to the performance almost exclusively due to my immense enjoyment of the Ivan Fischer/Philips recording of "Bluebeard" that I find to be among the most exciting and satisfying SACDs in my collection. See my comments at SA-CD.net .
I assumed that the San Francisco performance would be merely the orchestra with the two soloists sans any type of staging. But the playbill described the production as "semi-staged", so there is no elaborate traditional sets or costumes. And at first glance one would accept the staging, a non-convincing outline of the castle as being merely austere. But it is actually much more which becomes immediately apparent as the production unfolds. The sparse staging is given added dimension with the use of video projections, holographic type imaging, a complex lighting array (critical to differentiating the 7 doors), subtitles, etc. all skillfully (in my humble opinion) choreographed, but perhaps to a fault (see below). The end result, while clearly not a comprehensive substitute for an elaborate traditional set, nevertheless attained a high artistic level.
The orchestra, including eight offstage brass players, under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas, played superbly and explosively as called for in the score. The Rufatti organ, which can sometimes disappoint, came up huge (5th door). And the twin harps were as beautifully played and as relevant to a score as I can remember.
I thought that the soloists, especially the mezzo, surpassed what I heard on the Fischer recording.
One downside is that I recall the music performance on the Fischer recording to be more mysteriously beautiful and more vividly descriptive of the scenes (see comments at SA-CD.net). But this could very well be due to the abundance of technology and special effects that accompanied the live performance that, at times, could be a bit distracting (for me), if only briefly. When listening in the comfort of ones home to a fabulous recording/performance as is the Fischer there are no distractions such as subtitles to follow, video projections to interpret, etc. to preclude one undivided attention from the music.
But make no mistake, I found the San Francisco performance of ‘Bluebeard" to be a most enjoyable music experience.
Anyone compare the Channel Classics re-release with the original Philips?
Robert C. LangThis post is made possible by the generous support of people like you and our sponsors:
Topic - Bartok: Bluebeard's Castle - San Francisco Symphony - Robert C. Lang 02:03:13 06/22/12 (12)
- ugh.... - Penguin 16:55:49 06/22/12 (8)
- I guess my collection is even more inexplicable to you. - Larry I 06:06:04 06/25/12 (0)
- Understood but...................... - Kal Rubinson 08:03:40 06/23/12 (1)
- The Eötvös/Hanssler disc would have been off my radar - thanks for the recommendation! [nt] - Chris from Lafayette 16:12:54 06/24/12 (0)
- "does not compute" - Chris from Lafayette 20:51:55 06/22/12 (4)
- Yeap the only thing worse is when - Penguin 08:30:24 06/23/12 (1)
- LOL - the "very very large block of salt" noted [nt] ;-) - Chris from Lafayette 19:33:28 06/23/12 (0)
- Agreed - tailspn 08:24:08 06/23/12 (1)
- Oops - forgot to mention the Fischer/BFO recording. . . - Chris from Lafayette 14:04:53 06/23/12 (0)
- Q&A w/the director - Russell 14:56:35 06/22/12 (0)
- RE: Bartok: Bluebeard's Castle - San Francisco Symphony - Thornhill 08:05:46 06/22/12 (0)
- RE: Bartok: Bluebeard's Castle - San Francisco Symphony - Dave Billinge 05:34:24 06/22/12 (0)