One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,514 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider


paid for


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

FOGHORN Classics

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Support us financially by purchasing this from

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945)
Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, Op. 11 (1911-12)
Jerome Hines (bass) – Bluebeard
Rosalind Elias (mezzo-soprano) – Judith
Philadelphia Orchestra/Eugene Ormandy
rec. 20 November 1960, Philadelphia. ADD Stereo
SONY CLASSICAL 19075810782 [55:36]

Originally an LP released on Columbia Records in 1963, this magnificent recording made in 1960 has hitherto been unavailable on any commercial transfer to CD; my own copy until now has been an expert remastering onto CD by a gifted amateur sound engineer done as a private transaction for just my private use but it has now finally been released as part of a batch of remastered Sony issues. I am captivated by this work and have a dozen recordings of it on my shelves; this one is essential to any devotee of this extraordinary psychodrama and is all the more striking and accessible to Anglo-Saxons for being in English.

Of course, it's not the same as having the opera in the original Hungarian and the spoken Prologue from the poem by Bela Balázs is omitted, but this is nonetheless a very desirable adjunct to the famous, virtually contemporaneous (slightly later) recording by Kertész with Christa Ludwig and Walter Berry - or indeed a modern recording by such as Solti or Fischer. There is another recommendable version in English issued by BBC Music Magazine in 1993 and conducted by Mark Elder, with that spoken Prologue, first hauntingly intoned in Hungarian by a male actor before a female voice takes over the narration in English and I miss that bonus here. The singers in that Elder recording were the excellent Gwynne Howell and Sally Burgess but Ormandy's Bluebeard and Judith are starrier: the great Metropolitan bass Jerome Hines, whose deep, resonant bass immediately makes the listener sit up, and rising mezzo-soprano Rosalind Elias.

Ormandy is at home in this music and he has the virtuosity of the Philadelphia Orchestra at his command. The stereo sound is standard for the early sixties: mostly a good spread if occasionally a little cramped and tinny, but good enough to encompass the grandeur of the great C major blast as the fifth door swings open to reveal the vastness of Bluebeard's kingdom and the sighing winds are suitably arresting. There is only the faintest background hiss. Elias is expressive: insistent and demanding without being shrewish, while Hines chills the blood with his repeated ""Frightened?" and "For us both, be careful, Judith!" Elias has a lovely, firm voice; she only touches the top C at the climactic fifth door event - which is what the score demands, but I miss the prolongation of Ludwig's shocked, ecstatic shriek.

The playing from America’s premier orchestra of that era is superb and Ormandy is master of the score. There is no libretto but the singers’ English diction is pellucid, rendering that unnecessary.

Ralph Moore

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat



Recordings of the Month


From Ocean’s Floor


Conner Riddle Songs

Rodzinski Sibelius

Of Innocence and Experience


Symphonies 1, 2, 3