Roon Music Blog: Classical Community Conversations

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The first time I heard the 5th door opening in Bluebeard’s Castle was in the black and white Ken Russell bio film of Bartok that he did for the BBC’s Monitor series back in 1964. It didn’t matter that my parent’s TV was an old b&w model with crappy sound - that experience was life-changing. No performance since has come as close to recreating that intense moment…

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I get it…I remember that my induction to the ‘The RIng’ was via the Boulez/Chereau broadcast on, I guess, BBC2. I was a student, and had a 14" B&W TV. It was magical.

Yet the last time I saw ‘Bluebeard’, I was blown away by that surge at the 5th door. There are some works that I think I only want to listen to live. The ‘Rite of Spring’ is another.

Paradoxically, I can listen to ‘Petrushka’ recordings without concern…yet, to my mind, ‘Rite’ needs full orchestral impact to reveal its worth.

As an aside, I was often taken aback by the fact that many of my favourite ‘Gramophone’ critics did not have the highest of Hifi…yet they could hear something like no other.

Nice find! Thanks! :grinning::+1:

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Funny, I had exactly the opposite impression when seeing the video some 20 years later (which was admittingly related to another, pretty different staging dubbed ´the millennial ring´). I understand in the given context it had been revolutionary what Chereau had been doing but to me it felt that just some aspects of this staging have really stood the test of time.

Technically, I think nowadays it is possible to reproduce the full dynamics of an orchestra plus the ambience of a concert hall even for such massive composition. At least I have heard some examples which made me think they do not lack anything sonically.

If there is any additional magic coming from the staging, concert hall atmosphere or interdependence between audience and performers, is a completely separated question which hi-fi will never be capable of answering.

I personally think ´Duke Bluebeard´ can work both ways but very differently. So my brightest memory of live performances were the aforementioned one with massive additional brass on stage as well as the most recent staging I have witnessed combining ´Duke Bluebeard´ with a 40min. video prologue accompanied by Bartok´s ´Concerto for orchestra´. This works surprisingly well, and Nina Stemme was maybe the best Judith I have ever heard.

Picked this up over the weekend - wow, what a deal. $45 for FLAC thru the end of the day:

https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/8390958--debussy-the-complete-works

531 tracks (!) and almost 40 hours (33 CDs)

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Listened to the Mälkki Bluebeard this weekend, and was underwwhevemed by it, perhaps it’s the recording quality, or maybe the approach is just too subdued.

Interestingly, when you go to the composition page for Bluebeard, Ivan Fischer and Ildiko Komlosi are both listed as Top Performers/Conductors, but when you click through, although the recording is listed, the album itself is missing. Very odd behavior from Roon.

So I moved to Ivan’s brother’s recording, with Sam Ramey and Eva Marton. I used to have this on CD, but have not listened to it in years (decades?). now, in MQA, it’s a shattering experience. highly recommended.

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Sure…it has not aged well. But at the time, it was the first Ring that was televised in the UK. And I would kill to hear a Brunnhilde who could hit the notes Jones can, for all her faults. (Somewhat off topic, the current Bayreuth Ring is dismal, and the somewhat similar Berlin Ring (was on Arte TV) seems to be just as bad…so Chereau may still have something to offer.)

Do you think it works the other way…you hear an outstanding live performance, and a recording helps you reconnect with that memory?

Thanks for the recommendation; will look forward to listening to this.

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The technical quality is beyond any doubts, as usual with BIS recordings. Maybe the stereo mix is rather on the direct, dry side emphasizing the sharp contrasts of the score and letting particularly the baritone sound like he would sound via headphones and singing directly into your ears. That is why I did not recommend it to getting familiar with the piece and I would in general not recommend it for headphone listening.

This had been one of the exemplary opera recordings made by Philips around 2002 to highlight the superiority of SACD and introduce it successfully. Which failed, so eventually the catalogue has been sold and the recording was reissued by another label so it might have disappeared from streaming sources due to legal reasons. I own the original SACD and never did any comparison.

From recording perspective it was the opposite of the Mälkki recording, rather spacious, warm at times and a bit forgiving. As we all know, SACD and DVD-Audio have not been much of a success in the early 2000s and recording engineers were doing a lot of experiments with DSD and multichannel mixes so a lot of mixing concepts particularly for operas and oratorios kind of failed and got forgotten (funny sidenote: I found the DSD/6CH recordings by Harmonia Mundi France were the first ones to get it right and they are still unsurpassed references 20 years later. If anyone if interested I can feature a few of them).

The Adam Fischer recording I remember to be a very good one but I do not recall details and do not find it on any of my drives. Will give it a listen.

No, I keep both as separated events in my memory. These are two different kinds of performing arts for me and I would not be able to mix them even if I listen to the actual recording or radio broadcast of the live performances I had been attending (which I did a lot).

Happened several times that the recording did not capture the thrilling qualities of the live performance even if the latter was arranged mainly for the CD. Brightest example for me was ´Tristan und Isolde´ conducted by Marek Janowski in Berlin Philharmonie. The recording is very good, actually sonically better than hearing it live, but it sounds rather like a studio take or recording of a general rehearsal, so it does not capture the jaw-dropping atmosphere of this evening and what nearly everybody in the audience perceived as a divine performance.

The two ´Bluebeard´ stagings I have brightest memories of were both very unusual. One really using silent-movie-style film plus world-class orchestra accompaniment as a form of art we are simply not used to. The other one with brass on stage was kind of playing with our expectation how it should sound. I had heard the piece live maybe 10 times before that premier and you know how the 5th door would sound from the pit. And then comes a wall of brass sound you have never experienced before.

Actually I think ´Duke Bluebeard’s castle´ is a piece that is very demanding for everyone but it kind of forces directors to be creative as it is calling for a combination that makes sense. The most obvious - combining it with Bartok´s 2 ballets - can also work astonishingly well and I would love to see the ´Wooden Prince´ more often.

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Front page of Vogue ???

I can never decide if she’s a violinist or a model until she plays

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Janine Jansen is definitely a talented violinist mastering technique, pleasant tone and expression at the same time. I like this recording of the ´4 seasons´ for its interesting dealing with tempi (at times too fast) and versatile handling of continuo sounds. If I recall it correctly, they use harpsichord, harmonium and some kind of strummed, not picked, lute in different combinations.

Cannot get used to the loud breathing of some of the ensemble members.

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This is still my favourite

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I cam across this and really enjoyed it…

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I’m new to Schmitt’s music so I’m just streaming randomly selected albums (TIDAL).

On my second listen in a few days to this album and really enjoying the textures. Going to find it on CD if possible.

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Consider giving these a try:



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Found this EP excerpt from The Big House album of just the Haydn tracks on Presto

I’ve been in a Baroque mood recently, and exploring some more recent recordings, but I still, after 40 years, have not found a Four Seasons that satisfies me as much as this one:

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Listen to Summer’s “Presto” and I do not believe a better performance of it has ever been captured (or perhaps played!). There, I said it. I love this recording, and it remains a reference 40 years after I first bought it.

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Two talented young ladies making music that sounds sublime.

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