BARTOK, Bela: Bluebard's Castle (Andrea Melath/ Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/ Gustav Belacek/ Marin Alsop) (Naxos: 8.660928)
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A modern version of the old European folk-tale about the cruel, blue-bearded prince and his many disappearing wives, Bart??k's opera 'Bluebeard's Castle' is a metaphor for the impossibility of complete love between a man and a woman. A vast orchestra, one of Bart??k's largest, supports the vocal lines, moving deftly from moments of chamber-music-like delicacy to massive thunderheads of sound that underline the characters' inner agony. No scene is more vividly portrayed, though, or more memorable, than the moment when Judith opens the fifth door to behold a vista looking out over all Bluebeard's domains. One of the most spine-tingling moments in twentieth-century opera, a violently dissonant wave of sound transforms, in an instant, to a massive C major chord in the full orchestra. This recording was made after the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra's end-of-season concert, described by The Times as \a spectacular finale... A knockout dramatic punch; feverishly beautiful orchestral playing; two characters, the Duke and his new wife Judith, tactile and writhing, deeply felt... Alsop inspired the Bournemouth players to excel"."