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Exploring the often surprising links between concepts, themes and people in classical music, from medieval to modern


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Saturday, February 1, 2014 Permalink

The Pelleas Connection

Alexia Cousin as Melisande & Simon Keenlyside as Pelleas in the 2000 production by the Grand Théâtre in Geneva


In a mysterious land of shadows and memories, a prince comes upon a frightened young woman in the woods — far from home and uncertain how she got there.

Despite her mysterious origins, the prince marries her — and then six months later, she falls in love with his half-brother — a cascade of events that leads to a tragic end.

Little known today, the 19th century symbolist play Pelléas and Mélisande fascinated Debussy, Faure, Schoenberg, Sibelius and others, prompting music that reflected the story’s world of inner conflict — in which nothing is clear . . . except ambiguity.


In this hour, we’ll hear what they made of it all.



CD Title


Catalog #


Faure:  Pelléas et Mélisande, etc.

Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Neville Marriner

Argo 410 552-2


Schoenberg: Verklärte Nacht & Pelléas Und Mélisande

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Herbert von Karajan

Deutsche Grammophon 457721-2


Sibelius: Scenes Historiques, Pelléas Et Mélisande

Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Leif Segerstam

Chandos CHAN 9483


Debussy: Pelléas & Mélisande Suite

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Claudio Abbado

Deutsche Grammophon 289 471 332-2


Wallace: Creation Symphony; Pelléas and Mélisande

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Martyn Brabbins

Hyperion CDA66987


Scott: Overture to Pelléas and Melisanda

BBC Concert Orchestra, Martin Yates

Dutton Epoch CDLX 7302


Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande

Vienna Philharmonic, Claudio Abbado

Deutsche Grammophon 435 344-2


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