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Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, by Béla Bartók


London Symphony Orchestra / London / Music

Bartók’s one-act shocker, in which an aristocrat brings his new bride home to a mausoleum already haunted by three he espoused before. Overt action is minimal. Seven doors open, one by one, to unnerving effect; at the unbolting of the fifth, the full orchestra (plus organ!) cuts loose in pure C major with a blast that registers a 9-plus on the Richter scale of 20th-century music. Sir Simon Rattle conducts, with the charismatic Gerald Finley, bass-baritone, on hand in the grim title role and Karen Cargill, mezzo-soprano, as his last duchess—oh, ominous phrase. —M.G.

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