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Debussy: Pelleas et Melisande / Von Stade, Stilwell, Van Dam, Karajan


Release Date: 11/17/2009 
Label:  Warner Classics   Catalog #: 66723   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Claude Debussy
Performer:  Nadine DenizePascal ThomasRichard StilwellFrederica Von Stade,   ... 
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic OrchestraBerlin Deutsche Oper Chorus
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande; Stillwell, Von Stade, et al.; Berlin Philharmonic/Herbert von Karajan. EMI 67168. Reissued on Warner Classics 66723.

The payoff to Herbert von Karajan’s relentless pursuit of ensemble perfection and beauty of sound can be heard in the playing of the Berlin Philharmonic on this recording: by 1978, when it was made, they were indisputably the most polished and flexible orchestra in Europe, and one of the few orchestras anywhere (including France) capable of playing French music with real authority. Fittingly, the orchestra is very much at the center of this account of Debussy’s uniquely beautiful opera, magnificently projecting the mysterious, darkly translucent world of its fatally
Read more entangled characters. The cast, led by two Americans – Richard Stilwell as Pelléas and the incomparable Frederica von Stade as Mélisande – and featuring a Belgian (José van Dam) as Golaud and an Italian (Ruggero Raimondi) as Arkel, is a superb one, not least because those principals who are not French are nonetheless Francophones, and sing with excellent diction and an authentic delivery. Karajan’s pacing of the drama, his skill at eliciting just the right intensity from the orchestra, his surpassing gentleness with the singers (balances are superb and every word comes through clearly), and the overall beauty of the orchestral playing make this not only the finest account of Pelléas et Mélisande yet recorded, but one of the most treasurable opera recordings ever, fully worthy of EMI’s “Great Recordings of the Century” designation. – Ted Libbey, author of The NPR Guide to Building a Classical CD Collection. Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Pelléas et Mélisande by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Nadine Denize (Mezzo Soprano), Pascal Thomas (Bass), Richard Stilwell (Baritone),
Frederica Von Stade (Mezzo Soprano), José Van Dam (Bass Baritone), Ruggero Raimondi (Bass),
Christine Barbaux (Soprano)
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1893-1902; France 
Date of Recording: 12/1978 
Venue:  Philharmonic Hall, Berlin, West Germany 

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