OP0539. MACBETH (Bloch), w. Friedmann Layer Cond. Montpellier Ensemble; Jean-Philippe Lafont & Markella Hatziano. (France) 2-Naïve Actes Sud 34100, w.Elaborate Libretto-brochure, in Gatefold Set. Very long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 3298490341001
“Bloch's only opera had its premiere in Paris in 1910, when the composer was 30. It's a pity that he never wrote another one because the score shows a great natural talent for the theater. Though the influence of Wagner, Musorgsky & Debussy is obvious, the music has a distinctive, dark sound, both harmonically and orchestrally, which suits the violent, bloody story (closely based on Shakespeare) very well. It's a score of real substance, and the scenes between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are set with particular psychological subtlety. Overall, I find this one of the most rewarding and fascinating rediscoveries of French-language opera in recent years, and recommend it to anyone with a taste for music drama of this era.
The Actes Sud (nla) stems from a concert conducted expertly by Friedemann Layer, with the excellent Orchestre Philharmonique de Montpellier L.-R., and a generally strong cast headed by Jean-Philippe Lafont & Markella Hatziano. The French is mostly native - a definite ‘plus’ in this work - and there's a full libretto and good notes (French only, but if you have a copy of the play on hand you should be able to follow the action). Layer makes one big cut, Act II, Scene 2 - the ‘Lady Macduff scene’: though this omission is composer-sanctioned, it's perhaps regrettable on both dramatic and musical grounds….get the Actes Sud version if you can locate a copy.”
- James Lyon