Bartók: Bluebeard’s Castle. Andrea Meláth, mezzo-soprano; Gustáv Beláček, bass; Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by Marin Alsop.
Respighi: Vetrate di chiesa (Church Windows); Impressioni brasiliane (Brazilian Impressions); Rossiniana: Suite for Orchestra. Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by JoAnn Falletta.
Of all the works on these two CDs, Béla Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle was written earliest, yet sounds the most modern. Ever since its first performance in 1918, it has been a wonder and a puzzlement. It takes the old legend of Bluebeard, who married and killed his wives, and turns it into symbolist poetry and an inner drama in which all the wives – four of them – are still alive at the end, to the unknowable extent that they ever were. The opera is all dialogue between Bluebeard and Judith, his latest wife; nothing happens except that Judith opens seven doors and says she sees many things beyond them – but the audience sees nothing. The words are all-important here, which is why the new
The three works by Ottorino Respighi are far more straightforward; they are also far less interesting. Vetrate di chiesa (Church Windows) dates to 1925 (although it was not performed until 1927) and was in fact not written about church windows: the four movements’ titles were added after Respighi finished the suite. The work is pleasant and, as usual with Respighi, cleverly scored. The gently nostalgic first movement, “The Flight into