Schoenberg Pelleas und Melisande; Berg Lyric Suite

Author: 
Arnold Whittall

Schoenberg Pelleas und Melisande; Berg Lyric Suite

  • Pelleas und Melisande
  • Lyric Suite

In its LP format, reissued four years ago, Pelleas und Melisande stood in splendid isolation. On CD it appears not only with a substantial additional item but divided into 11 tracks cued into the English and Italian notes: notes, it should be stated, by the present reviewer.
Performance and recording of this supreme late-romantic tone-poem are classics of their kind. For all its length, this is a tightly-argued score, and Karajan, taking the broad view, welds it together with consummate skill, letting it breathe while preventing it from sagging. I hope nevertheless that another recording will provide some competition before too long—one with the rich textural layers less sumptuously blended: a recording more analytical than this, provided it were no less expressive, would be exciting. For the moment, however, competition is confined to the Berg movements, and here Karajan is a clear winner. Michael Oliver found a ''shortage of passion'' in Gielen's MMG account, and although Gielen may be firmer in rhythm Karajan is far richer in expression.'

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