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Pelleas Et Melisande Box set

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (8 Jan. 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Testament
  • ASIN: B009GG4B8G
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 240,467 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

Camille Maurane (Pélleas) - Suzanne Danco (Mélisande) - Henri-Bertrand Etcheverry (Golaud) - Oda Slobodskaya (Geneviève) - André Vessières (Arkel) - Marjorie Westbury (Yniold) - BBC Chorus - Philharmonia Orchestra - Désiré-Émile Ingelbrecht, direction

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By Ralph Moore TOP 50 REVIEWER on 23 Aug. 2013
Inghelbrecht was piqued that he was not invited to conduct the 1942 studio recording made in Occupied France; that was instead conducted by Roger Désormière and has since become an established classic. Indeed, "Pelléas et Mélisande" has been very well served in recordings; I know of none which is a failure and almost all do honour to this most intimate and recording-friendly of operas. The action is minimal, the text invariably audible and the settings so vividly conjured up in the mind's eye by Debussy's diaphanous orchestration that almost nothing is lost by the armchair listener. It is an opera of light and shade, sunlit clearings in gloomy forest, foetid dungeons and sea-breezes skimming the battlements, sparkling fountains, sunsets and brooding storms - and they are all in the score. Only once do voices intertwine, at the climax of the lovers' final duet and any francophone Francophile will delight in the nuances of the parlando text.

Debussy's friend and champion Inghelbrecht has the full measure of the work and he is served by a matchless cast. I say "matchless" but almost every recording is blessed by a peerless roster of singers: sopranos who are the direct heirs of Mary Garden, the original Mélisande, with voices which are delicate, vulnerable and crystalline; Suzanne Danco is ideal as the fey, hapless heroine. No less admirable is the perfect baryton-Martin Camille Maurane, whose light, flexible voice effortlessly suggestive of youthful passion and the element of immaturity which is part of Pélleas' psychomachia, as he struggles weakly against his illicit amour.
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There has always been great respect shown for the 1941 Désormière recording, and I love it. Nobody sang Mélisande like Joachim, nor Pelléas like Jansen, and it's conducted beautifully and clearly - almost to a fault. Inghelbrecht's interpretation is quite different, happy to transport the listener to a very different place where the stars shine differently. Danco and Maurane are very close in excellence to their predecessors, and the sound quality had eleven event-filled years to improve. There are other Inghelbrecht performances of this work, but this is the most easily available. Testament has done a wonderful job.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8ab81960) out of 5 stars 1 review
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8aafb054) out of 5 stars Formidable! 23 Aug. 2013
By Ralph Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Inghelbrecht was piqued that he was not invited to conduct the 1942 studio recording made in Occupied France; that was instead conducted by Roger Désormière and has since become an established classic. Indeed, "Pelléas et Mélisande" has been very well served in recordings; I know of none which is a failure and almost all do honour to this most intimate and recording-friendly of operas. The action is minimal, the text invariably audible and the settings so vividly conjured up in the mind's eye by Debussy's diaphanous orchestration that almost nothing is lost by the armchair listener. It is an opera of light and shade, sunlit clearings in gloomy forest, foetid dungeons and sea-breezes skimming the battlements, sparkling fountains, sunsets and brooding storms - and they are all in the score. Only once do voices intertwine, at the climax of the lovers' final duet and any francophone Francophile will delight in the nuances of the parlando text.

Debussy's friend and champion Inghelbrecht has the full measure of the work and he is served by a matchless cast. I say "matchless" but almost every recording is blessed by a peerless roster of singers: sopranos who are the direct heirs of Mary Garden, the original Mélisande, with voices which are delicate, vulnerable and crystalline; Suzanne Danco is ideal as the fey, hapless heroine. No less admirable is the perfect baryton-Martin Camille Maurane, whose light, flexible voice effortlessly suggestive of youthful passion and the element of immaturity which is part of Pélleas' psychomachia, as he struggles weakly against his illicit amour.

At 51 years old, elegant bass-baritone Henri-Bertrand Etcheverry - the same Golaud as in Désormière's recording but ten years on - is something of a veteran and the occasional relative weakness in his high notes is by no means inapt as it conveys the age gap between him, his teenage bride and younger brother. Special praise must go the really touching and convincing Yniold by soprano Marjorie Westbury - especially as she was English; the rest of the cast is equally fine.

This does not displace the Désormière but we are lucky to have it in such excellent sound, being a broadcast on the BBC Third Programme from 1951. Another bonus is the presence of Walter Legge's own Philharmonia, stuffed with virtuosi instrumentalists and playing like a dream. There is the odd cough but it is hardly distinguishable from a studio recording and serves as a fitting tribute to a great Debussy conductor. His live, stereo, 1962 performance is also very good, but the audience coughing is obtrusive, the cast not quite as enchanting and the atmosphere somewhat less ethereal than we have here. There is some slight hiss but the sound is eminently enjoyable; good as it is, however, the best issue is from Pristine Audio.
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