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Customer Discussions > Classical Music forum

Best Pelleas et Milisande on cd?

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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 16, 2012, 9:30:30 AM PST
as above

Posted on Nov 16, 2012, 9:42:16 AM PST
Edgar Self says:
The classic Roger Desormiere with an all-French cast, recorded in Paris during the Occupation.

Posted on Nov 16, 2012, 9:44:30 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 16, 2012, 10:32:53 AM PST
I had the columbia(now sony) Boulez on vinyl, then I got the Stade/Karajan in the early days of CD's I never felt too happy with it and eventually 'upgraded' to the Abbado. Haven't been happier. I'm not saying that it is the best, it is just the best I of the three I've 'known well'.
just recently I aquired that boulez performance as part of the sony Debussy box and even with the advantages of cds, I put the abbado above it.

abbado is an excellent conductor of mussorgsky and I hear a lot of the similarities to the styling in 'boris' and 'khovanschina'. Not in the big russian well known sections, but in the more intimate moments of the mussorgsky operas.

I can't explain it any better than that, and only a few people I've ever talked to about this can hear it as well....

Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande

not too expensive used.
the only problem is a physical one with the box which holds the jewel case and libretto. it has the circle 'cut out' with the exception of the outlines of the performers. So one is seeing the plastic jewel case for a majority of the cover. and m.ewing's head was lost years ago on my copy.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 16, 2012, 10:25:46 AM PST
I'm not a great fan of the opera, but both of the Ansermet recordings are quite good.


Posted on Nov 16, 2012, 10:36:45 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 16, 2012, 10:43:10 AM PST
Mandryka says:
This is one of my favourite pieces of music.

I think you can do better than the ancient one with Roger Desormiere. I suggest you try to find one of Inghelbrecht's recordings with Camille Maurane. There are three -- I rather like the live one from 1963 from Paris but really they're all excellent. Inghelbrecht was by far the finest Debussy conductor I have heard and his cast sing their hearts out for him, and are totally with him in his vision of the piece. There's a INA recording with an Inghelbrecht performance and a long interview with Maurane -- well worth hearing if you can understand French.

Another very superior performance I thought was from Serge Baudo with the Orchestre de Lyon on RCA.

Best of all try the Lyon opera DVD, conducted by John Eliot Gardiner. It has an extraordinary and revealing regietheatre production.

Posted on Nov 16, 2012, 1:32:45 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 16, 2012, 2:19:41 PM PST
scarecrow says:
Abbado and Vienna was my first choice many years ago,;well when it came out. . .Abbado has been one of the best,gifted opera conductors we've had, up there with Haitink, Levine, and Solti. . .

van Dam is a powerful artist;and with the Abbado is quite effective stuff, Abbado/Vienna always have strong casts throughout the production, no role is weak, Los Angeles is the same; all strong roles;, and Maria Ewing(again Vienna) knows how to be naive, simple and vulnerable when you need it, I guess the lechery of King Arkel, I've read in the original, that is an important subterranean part of the opera, like Bluebeard's Castle of Bartok; except here both die Pelleus(killed by Golaud) and Melisande. . .

I also have the Boulez at Covent Garden, and it is quite good, lean and mean, clean and clear,well Boulez did teach the Opera to his composition students as Messiaen did;So there is a telescoping of the entire work in the Boulez, Abbado as well, can see the entire work. . .What do others do? Well simply move from place to place, moment to moment, phrase to phrase, not seeing where they are going!

Boulez was a student of Roger Desormiere . . .So I'm sure young Pierre was at those early performances, taking notes. . .Well perhaps not the Desormiere production during the war was 1941, so perhaps a latter production in the early Fifties. . . ,(Desormiere had a stroke in 1952, and that ended sadly his career. He died in 1963)
Boulez would not have been a music student at the age of 15-16 that early, He studied with Messiaen though a few years later also during the Occupation until the War's end. . .
It's always curious to me how conductors learn their craft,find their voice for Opera, their philosophy, Boulez also attended Otto Klemperer rehearsals in London in the Sixties. . .that's where he got the capacity to do Mahler and Bruckner some decades later.

Ernst Ansermet as well, all these Oldies have now documentary value, not definitive. . . . and tend to be on the romantic side even for the French;to say the least . .enough said. . .

Toscanini did the La Scala premiere, 1909,1910, something like that. . .

Kent Nagano also did one, forgot where, But anything he touches is always good, perhaps Bastille Opera,where Myung Whun Chung has done some marvelous new works there. . . .

Gardiner as Mandryka says with Lyon Opera is good,and that is a strong company as well;

Lastly Glyndebourne productions are always at the top for modernity's spirit; they have the right sensibility for it, the modern, whereas other places, as here in the USA you have to import the talent. . .

Posted on Nov 16, 2012, 2:48:09 PM PST
MacDoom says:
For me the best Pelléas and Mélisande is the one by Petri Sakari and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra.

Yes, Sibelius.

Posted on Nov 16, 2012, 3:00:41 PM PST
Edgar Self says:
For authenticists, there are the arias Mary Garden recorded accompanied by Clauce-Achille Debussy at piano, but don't expect much -- they sound as if they were recorded under water -- the engulfed composer?

I have later versions by Karajan with Schwarzkopf and Hugues Cuenod from La Scala, and perhaps Holzmair's, I need to check.

Posted on Dec 1, 2012, 6:28:03 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 2, 2012, 11:05:18 AM PST
I could paste Mandryka's above post for my own here, as I totally agree with him. After Inghelbrecht (& Ansermet), I too find Baudo's conducting of this score to be more insightful than Desormiere, Abbado, Haitink, Dutoit, Karajan, and Boulez--who are nevertheless very fine Debussy conductors. If one compares how Baudo handles the opening of the score, it becomes immediately apparent that he has a deeper emotional understanding of the music than the other conductors, who in comparison seem to gloss over the orchestral opening more matter of factly. Among modern recordings, Abbado is probably closest to Baudo in this regard, but even he doesn't find the same depth of feeling.

Which is not to say that I can't also sometimes find Dutoit's icy cool approach to be fascinating as well. Dutoit's austere view of the score produces an orchestral clarity that can be very mysterious at times. Yet ultimately, I prefer the Baudo's greater warmth & emotional impact.
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Discussion in:  Classical Music forum
Participants:  8
Total posts:  9
Initial post:  Nov 16, 2012
Latest post:  Dec 1, 2012

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