Notes and Editorial Reviews
Pelléas et Mélisande
MDG GOLD 1711 (62:18)
Trio Parnassus is a relatively young group with relatively young members. I found their approach to this music reverent, well phrased, and in the proper style, but to a certain extent lacking an individual
personality. They make very little of either the dynamic or emotional contrasts in the music, particularly in the Chausson, which so obviously calls for such qualities. This is not to say that they don’t play
—they do—but they somehow sound perfunctory. Of competing versions, I prefer the Wanderer Trio on Harmonia Mundi. There are even more versions of the Fauré trio, and some good ones, too, including the Florestan Trio (Hyperion 30029 or 67114) and members of the Tokyo Quartet on Sony 62413. By the way, has anyone else besides me noted the uncanny resemblance of the last movement’s opening theme to “Vesti la giubba” from
Where this disc seems to be unique, however, is in the performance of Hubert Mouton’s trio arrangement of music from Debussy’s
Pelléas et Mélisande.
This strange piece appears to be unknown to either ArkivMusic or Amazon, though you can buy the score at sharmusic.com or view it at the IMSLP Petrucci Library website, so this may very well be its premiere recording. The arrangement was written in 1909 and published by Durand, so there is little chance that Debussy was unaware of it. The score indicates that one of the two string instruments could be replaced by flute, double bass, or clarinet! Mouton, according to the notes, also later arranged a full orchestration of Debussy’s
which includes the famous “Clair de lune.” Such transcriptions were still being made in the early years of the 20th century, when phonograph records were still generally considered to be tenuous carriers of “real music” and home chamber groups still existed. Here, Trio Parnassus’s style is completely apropos to the music, giving just enough emotion and energy to bring out the character of the music yet in an instrumental way. Although the themes can be linked to emotional states or events in the opera, the trio itself is more of an instrumental study in and of itself.
I can definitely recommend this CD for the Debussy-Mouton piece and, as I indicated, the other two performances are by no means poor ones, but your decision to acquire it will of course be based on your needs and which works are currently in your collection.
FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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