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Debussy: Pelleas et Melisande Box set, Import

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, Import, November 17, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

With an unrivalled catalogue of over 450 complete opera recordings produced over the last 60 years. EMI Classics, with its sister label Virgin Classics, can rightly claim to be the Home of Opera. Among the 21 releases launching a new series of complete operas are some of the `crown jewels' of the catalogue. Each Album contains a 16-page booklets with tracklists and synopsis in English, French, German and Spanish. CDROM with PDF booklet including original booklet notes and complete libretto in sung language, English, French and German will be included in each opera set.
  • Sample this album Artist - Artist (Sample)
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Disc 2
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Disc 3
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Digital Booklet: Debussy: Pelleas et Melisande
Digital Booklet: Debussy: Pelleas et Melisande
Album Only
Digital Booklet: Debussy: Pelleas et Melisande
Digital Booklet: Debussy: Pelleas et Melisande
Album Only

Product Details

  • Performer: Frederica von Stade, Richard Stilwell, Jose Van Dam
  • Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic
  • Conductor: Herbert von Karajan
  • Composer: Claude Debussy
  • Audio CD (November 17, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set, Import
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • ASIN: B002N4DZ0S
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #230,239 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Ralph Moore TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 30, 2015
Format: Audio CD
This 1978 recording remains one of Karajan's greatest; it always was in superb sound but the re-mastering simply enhances the depth, clarity and perfect balance the engineers achieved. Some have resorted to the default position complaint that Karajan makes Debussy sound like Wagner, which is nonsense; while it true that the BPO in peak form contribute a sumptuousness that emphasises the repressed eroticism of this work, it is also true that Karajan insists upon the most delicate and finessed grading of dynamics to ensure that the orchestra never overwhelms the singers.

And what singers they are! The truly peerless performance here is from José van Dam, singing with exquisite subtlety and seamless legato but also rising to the moments of tortured jealousy Golaud experiences as his rage and suspicions mount. The scene where he forcs his little boy Yniold to spy on the chaste lovers - they never consummate their love physically - is truly chilling. Von Stade is perfect as Mélisande: fragile, waif-like, dreamy and vulnerable, her oboe tones suggestive of other-worldliness and detachment. Stilwell is excellent as Pélleas, his baryton-martin with its tenor upper extension conveying both sensitivity and ecstasy; he is more virile than some characterisations. Both Americans sing in excellent French and the supporting cast is first-rate, with that gifted linguist Raimondi as a grave, troubled Arkel.

Karajan captures the rapture of this music and is unafraid to crank up the intensity in the orchestral preludes, conversely, he never swamps the conversational tone of a piece so dependent upon the maintenance of the natural speech-rhythms of the French language and the text is always crystal clear.
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Von Karajan's work is predictably lush; I can imagine some listeners' wanting leaner textures, but it does sound wonderful. All the roles are wonderfully taken. Frederica von Stade, one of the most gloriously communicative artists of our time, manages to triumph as the uncommunicative Melisande; Stilwell sounds lyrical and sensitive. Van Dam is one of the two great Golauds of the second half of the twentieth century--the other being Thomas Stewart. In sum, a radiant realization of a work that has always seemed to me to work better on discs than in the opera house.
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A beautiful recording. Van Stade never better in a signature role.
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