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Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande [CD]

Claudio Abbado Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: £23.06 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Claudio Abbado enjoyed an international career almost without parallel, and occupied a position of unique standing in the musical world.

Admired and loved by the artists with whom he collaborated, he astonished and delighted audiences with the vivacity and poise of music-making and through his career as a conductor he took in a remarkable range of composers’ works.

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Product details

  • Performer: Maria Ewing
  • Orchestra: Vienna State Opera Chorus and Orchestra
  • Conductor: Claudio Abbado
  • Composer: Claude Debussy
  • Audio CD (11 Feb 1992)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B000001GFU
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 103,061 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         


Disc 1:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 1 - "Je ne pourrai plus sortir"José van Dam 3:09£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 1 - "Pourquoi pleures-tu?"José van Dam 6:21£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 1 - Je suis perdu aussiJosé van Dam 3:10£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 1 - "Voici ce qu'il écrit à son frère"Christa Ludwig 2:06£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 1 - "Qu'en dites-vous?"Christa Ludwig 5:23£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 1 - InterludeClaudio Abbado 1:14£0.39  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 1 - "Il fait sombre"Christa Ludwig 2:38£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 1 - "Hoé! Hisse hoé!"Helmut Froschauer 3:54£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 2 - "Vous ne savez pas où je vous ai menée"Francois Le Roux 3:40£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen10. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 2 - "C'est au bord d'une fontaine"Francois Le Roux 2:52£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen11. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 2 - InterludeClaudio Abbado 3:19£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen12. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 2 - "Ah, ah, tout va bien"José van Dam 7:44£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen13. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 2 - "Voyons, donne-moi ta main"José van Dam 2:53£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen14. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 2 - InterludeClaudio Abbado 2:19£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen15. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 2 - "Oui, c'est ici, nous y sommes"Francois Le Roux 4:45£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen16. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 3 - "Mes longs cheveux descendent"Francois Le Roux 5:59£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen17. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 3 - "Je les tiens dans les mains"Francois Le Roux 4:11£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen18. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 3 - "Que faites-vous ici?"José van Dam 3:32£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen19. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 3 - "Prenez garde! Par ici"José van Dam 3:03£0.79  Buy MP3 


Disc 2:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 3 - "Ah, je respire enfin"José van Dam 4:14£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 3 - InterludeClaudio Abbado 1:06£0.39  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 3 - "Viens, nous allons nous asseoir ici"Patrizia Pace 5:13£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 3 - "S'ils s'embrassent, petit père?"Patrizia Pace 4:18£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 4 - "Où vas-tu?"Francois Le Roux 2:49£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 4 - "Maintenant que le Père de Pelléas"Claudio Abbado 5:46£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 4 - "Pelléas part ce soir"José van Dam 2:53£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 4 - "Ne mettez pas ainsi votre main à la gorge"José van Dam 3:25£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 4 - InterludeClaudio Abbado 3:54£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen10. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 4 - "Oh! Cette pierre est lourde"Patrizia Pace 4:03£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen11. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 4 - "C'est le dernier soir"Francois Le Roux 3:25£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen12. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 4 - Nous sommes venus ici il y a bien longtempsFrancois Le Roux 1:46£0.39  Buy MP3 
Listen13. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 4 - "On dirait que ta voix"Francois Le Roux 3:47£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen14. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 4 - "Quel est ce bruit?"Francois Le Roux 4:03£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen15. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 5 - "Ce n'est pas de cette petite blessure"José van Dam 2:53£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen16. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 5 - "Attention, je crois qu'elle s'éveille"José van Dam 5:18£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen17. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 5 - "Mélisande, as-tu pitié de moi?"José van Dam 2:40£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen18. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 5 - Non, non, nous n'avons pas été coupablesJosé van Dam 1:54£0.39  Buy MP3 
Listen19. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 5 - "Qu'avez-vous fait?"José van Dam 2:34£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen20. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 5 - "Qu'y a-t-il?"José van Dam 2:24£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen21. Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande / Act 5 - "Attention... attention!"José van Dam 6:42£0.79  Buy MP3 


Product Description

2CD Wp/Abbado

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pelleas and Melisande 27 Oct 2003
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
Enter Debussy's dreamscape of half spoken feelings, unfinished encounters and warmly explicit music, impressionistic in its feel (a musical version of the impressionist painters). The play of Pelleas and Melissande is put to music without any change to the words, without any repetition or choruses, the words are half sung, half spoken. There seems to be no clear time line, no point to some of the confrontations. The listeners imagination is engaged at all times to understand what is really taking place. The music of course tells us what the characters do not. Warmly recommeded recording of Debussy's only completed opera.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning "Pelleas", performance, recording 20 Dec 2011
By jt52 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I approached this Claudio Abbado-led performance of Claude Debussy's only opera "Pelleas et Melisande" prejudiced by certain negative comments about the singing. Happily, I thought the singing was for the most part excellent and it is strengthened by some truly great orchestral playing and sound that is miraculous (audiophile alert - you will want to hear this disc even if you don't like Pelleas or Debussy or whatever - trust me). In short, this is simply a great recording of a work that is difficult for performers and listeners alike.

"Pelleas et Melisande" is a difficult opera because Debussy uses little repetition and few obvious melodic hooks. There are "leitmotifs" (to summarize, short melodic capsules often associated with events, characters or ideas) but they rise to prominence briefly and then are buried in the texture when they return. It takes place in a magic garden, a neurasthenic princess at the center of a romantic triangle. The final scene, a slipping off into the abyss, is an astounding conception that is unique and is performed just beautifully by Abbado and his orchestra.

Each of the three leads is in my opinion very good. The best of them is Jose van Dam as Golaud, who has never sounded better. Francois Le Roux is a strong Pelleas, with a light tenor. As Melisande, Maria Ewing takes a more dramatic approach, which emphasizes diction and drama rather than pure musicality. That said, she can be vocally very pure, for example in her deathbed scene in Act V (disc 2, track 16). The accompanying parts are weaker and are probably the only downside of this CD. Christa Ludwig, as Genevieve, is one of the great opera singers ever, but at age 54, she no longer had the vocal precision and range to shine. I also found bass Jean-Philippe Courtis to be inexpressive and unable to navigate the notes flexibly in the role of Arkel. But generally, the singing is strong.

I have always been a fan of Claudio Abbado's approach to Debussy and Ravel but this is a new highlight for the esteemed conductor in this repertory. You wouldn't think the Vienna Philharmonic could play this repertory well, but they play with utmost delicacy and a pervasive beauty of tone. I'd describe this is velvety Debussy rather than precise Debussy. As I enthused above, the recording sonics are just remarkable, marking exceptional work by the DG engineers.

I very, very much enjoyed this release.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ephemeral raindrops in the forest 12 Jan 2012
By dv_forever - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This is a heavenly piece of music and deserves the most committed performance. I believe it to be Debussy's greatest masterpiece. You would think that a more French sound would be the most appropriate but when one has the Vienna Philharmonic at his command, why accept any lesser substitutes? I think this is one of Abbado's greatest recorded accomplishments. Abbado has never been very apt at German repertoire. But his adventures into French and Russian music yielded many rewards.

This performance is a perfect middle ground between the cool modern approach of Boulez and the luxurious high-romanticism of Karajan. But that's not to say that Abbado is simply a middle ground, he is inspired in his own way and his cast of singers is among the strongest in the last several decades. The playing of the Vienna Philharmonic is as good as it gets while DG gives the perfect aural backdrop to the proceedings. One of Abbado's strongest recordings and a must for lovers of Pelleas and Melisande.
37 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really good, but... 14 Dec 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
If Boulez's laserdisc account (DG) didn't exist, I would probably say that Abbado's is the best account that I've heard. It is certainly very, very good -- lots of atmosphere and passion, and absolutely gorgeous playing from the Vienna Philharmonic. However, there are a lot of things Abbado does that does not necessarily benefit the music -- the syncopated chords (depicting the dying Melisande's faltering breath) in the beginning of Act V are smoothed over so that one hears them only as long sustained chords. A lot of orchestrational detail is lost in Abbado's generally "fat" conducting. And the recording has a little bit too much reverb (which doesn't help the already not-too-clear performance). The cast is quite divine -- Le Roux is a little bit too nasal sounding to me, but I quickly got used to him. Ewing's tone is just a tad bit too rich for my taste. I prefer Boulez's cast -- he has a more pure-toned Melisande (Alison Hagley) and a better characterized Pelleas (Neill Archer). And, of course, Boulez's clarity is the very opposite of Abbado's murk. Alas, I believe Boulez's performance (the one on laserdisc) is out of print. I don't like Boulez's first version (Sony) -- it's not as clear, and the cast is not at all good. If you really want a Pelleas now, you could do worse than purchasing this set (Karajan's recording is even more fat than this, and is to be avoided!). I hope DG decides to re-release Boulez's recording on CD. I love this opera a lot, but I must say that, despite Abbado's fine performance, I would still not purchase this set simply because I know that there are too many things in this incomparable score that Abbado misses.
23 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TOO DEEP FOR TEARS 5 May 2006
By DAVID BRYSON - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Debussy's great Pelleas et Melisande is not really a music-drama, much less an opera, in any familiar sense. It is more a book sung rather than read. The text is prose - quite simple prose at that - and so far as I know it is lifted straight from Maeterlinck's play. The music is as continuous as Wagner without relying on Wagner's special device of Leitmotiv, sc musical phrases with specific associations. The vocal idiom is a kind of constant recitative, and it is innocent of anything we would normally call melody from start to finish. That, on my view of the work, is how it must be - when singing a prose text tunes would be out of place. Again, I can think of no opera or music-drama that makes its effect so completely in sound alone, indeed that is how I prefer it. There may be no tunes, but there is infinite `atmosphere' to this music. It does not even `illustrate' its text, it fuses with it to form a single indivisible unity. It is toweringly great music in my opinion, but it has no existence apart from the narrative of which it has become a part.

Maeterlinck belongs to the school of French writers normally called `symbolist', and indeed there is symbolism enough in his story to keep the literary criticism industry going for centuries. The story captured the attention of other great composers too. It drew from Sibelius some attractive but lightweight incidental music, and Schoenberg was moved, alas, to depict it in a tone-poem of excruciating length and turgidity. Debussy was born, it seems, to give this deep and disturbing story its true and worthy musical representation. It is a depthlessly sad story, but on one level it is a very realistic one. The behaviour of Golaud and Pelleas is very recognisable indeed, and if the old king Arkel is as much a kind of Greek chorus in his comments as a kind of Nestor, the child Yniold is a very familiar type of French child. Melisande herself is the figure of mystery and contradictions. We never even find out where she came from - she was found crying in a forest like Coleridge's Geraldine, the victim apparently of unspecified wrongs done by unnamed wrongdoers. She is not a witch like Geraldine, but she precipitates the tragedy and she is a liar. She lies to Pelleas about the behaviour of Golaud when he found her (he was an impeccable gentleman), she lies to Golaud about the loss of her wedding-ring, and when she tells Pelleas that she only lies to Golaud that is itself a lie. However not only Golaud but Arkel too think of her as childlike, and indeed the developing passion in her relationship with Pelleas seems to come mainly from his side. Her death itself may have been the result of giving birth, although nobody suggests that, rather than a tragic event like the death of Desdemona. This is not a Shakespearean tragedy in any way, nor even a Greek-style one. The frequent references to fate are something else entirely here - this is just what can happen to people in certain situations.

Such is the power of the music that I prefer it all without stage action. Debussy creates a world of his own, and the performers here rise to it superbly. The trumpets surely sounded on the other side for Abbado and the Vienna Philharmonic for their superb realisation of this wonderful score, steering clear of hyperbole but without artificial coldness or restraint either. The singers seem to me without exception excellent. I am not myself a singer in any meaningful sense of the word, but I would guess that in technical terms Debussy's vocal writing is much less difficult than Wagner's to say nothing of Verdi's. Be that as it may, it calls for artistry and sensitivity of an exceptional order, and I hope I never have to revise my early impression that it is all something near flawless. The recording, from 1991, is just right to my ears too, and even the liner notes are outstandingly good. Maeterlinck's French is very simple, and I only glanced at the translation now and again. So far as I noticed, it was generally good, except that I spotted one howler - `le pont' on a ship is not the bridge but the deck. Would a sailing-ship have a bridge anyway? I also thought it rather a pity to downgrade Maeterlinck's vivid and memorable `l'haleine de la mort' to the dull and conventional `the shadow of death'.

How much general appeal this great work will ever have is something I have no means of knowing. I have not even attempted in a short review to touch on the matter of the symbolism that lies at its heart. If you are new to it, all I would say is that to have any hope of understanding it you must follow the text with undeviating attention, and it is in no way difficult to follow. It is not a thing to tug at your heart-strings in an ordinary sense, but it is as deep as the fountain in the park or the pools in the cave, and after hearing an account as fine as this one is it should take you some time to become the person you were before, if indeed you ever do.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hmmmm.... 13 Dec 2012
By Ranakabuto - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The essay in the booklet to this CD set of Debussy's only opera states that "Pelléas et Mélisande" was conceived as a sort-of response to the works of Wagner, particularly "Parsifal" and "Tristan und Isolde." One can hear the influence of those two works in the music; there are no catchy, hummable melodies in "Pelléas et Mélisande" - the beauty comes from the harmonies and rich orchestral tones used, and the whole thing feels like one, long musical phrase. Where this opera - for lack of a better word - departs from Wagner (whom Debussy was consciously trying to react *against* as much as react *to*) is in the drama, or lack thereof. Adapted from a play by Maeterlinck, "Pelléas et Mélisande" is not a conventional drama in any sense - it is heavily symbolic and disjointed, with abrupt changes in location, scenes that have nothing to do with the overall story, enigmatic characters that make no sense and dialogue with loads of non sequiturs. It's all so... French.

If you are into this Debussy opus then you probably want to pick up this recording of it. Claudio Abbado's conducting is golden (when is it not?) and the Vienna Phil plays beautifully (when do they not?). The singers are all first rate and embody their roles perfectly. The recording itself is also first rate with nice tone and clarity. My gripe with this is in the packaging - the box has a cut out window of the two title characters with the jewel case inside supplying the background. It looks nice but it's fragile - be very careful when moving this set onto and off of your shelf. I can see why this type of box isn't normally used for CD boxsets.

I can honestly say that the music of "Pelléas et Mélisande" moves me but the words do not. While I do appreciate the symbolic nature of the story I feel that it is just too incoherent for what it is. For those of you who do love it though this audio recording should satisfy immensely, and if you are like me than you can at least derive pleasure from the beautiful sounds supplied by a first rate conductor leading a first rate orchestra and first rate cast.
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