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Debussy: Pelléas Et Mélisande / Danco, Mollet, Ansermet

Release Date: 09/19/2011 
Label:  London/Decca Historic Series Catalog #: 425965  
Composer:  Claude Debussy
Performer:  Hélène BouvierAndré VessieresSuzanne DancoHeinz Rehfuss,   ... 
Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Mono 
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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Unlike Karajan's Wagnerization of Debussy's intimate score (EMI, 2/88) or Boulez's pitilessly spotlit reduction of it to a bourgeois domestic tragedy transferred to a mythical royal setting (Sony Classical, 4/92), Ansermet's classical recording—the first of his two for Decca, made for the fiftieth anniversary of the work's premiere in 1902—seeks to capture its subtle symbolic atmosphere by careful underplaying, respecting the composer's injunction that the music should be subservient to the text. This may be regarded as upholding the true Debussyan tradition; and whatever the shortcomings of the Suisse Romande Orchestra (whose intonation is not always impeccable, as for example in the very first pages), Ansermet produces finely judged tonal Read more inflexions from it, and shows an unrivalled insight into the psychology of the characters and his singers' timing of phrases. He has the advantage of one of the best of all Mélisandes, the pure-voiced Suzanne Danco, who does indeed convey the "grande innocence" of this elusive and mysterious "princesse lointaine"; and Rehfuss's tragically uncomprehending, quickly aroused Goland is vividly drawn. Mollet's fervent and tender Pelléas is nearly very good indeed, only showing an occasional moment of strain at climactic tines like "Et its m'aiment" or "Je I'ai trouvée". Vessières is a nobly voiced, sympathetic grandfather Arkel, there is a firm Genevieve in Bouvier, expressive in her letter scene, and Flore Wend makes an ingenuous (if slightly feminine) little Yniold.

The change of acoustic for the scene in the grotto between Golaud and Pelléas is well managed, and the recording, despite its age, is very acceptable, with just a hint of overloading in one or two places. (The booklet, curiously, seems to consider a synopsis of the plot necessary for the Germans and Italians but not for the French and English!)

-- Gramophone [4/1993]
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Works on This Recording

Pelléas et Mélisande by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Hélène Bouvier (Alto), André Vessieres (Bass), Suzanne Danco (Soprano),
Heinz Rehfuss (Bass Baritone), Pierre Mollet (Baritone), Flora Wend (Soprano),
Derrik Olsen (Bass)
Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1893-1902; France 
Date of Recording: 4/1952 
Venue:  Victoria Hall, Geneva, Switzerland 

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