John Barbirolli: Schoenberg Pelleas und Melisande, New Philharmonia Orchestra

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Pelleas und Melisande, Op. 5 (1905)
Conductor: John Barbirolli
Pierre Boulez
 Pierre Boulez
New Philharmonia Orchestra

A symphonic poem for large orchestra by Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951), his first orchestral work. It is based on the French Symbolist play "Pelléas et Mélisande" by Maurice Maeterlinck.

The following is a synopsis of the opera "Pelléas et Mélisande" by Claude Debussy, based on the same play by Maeterlink:

"Golaud, out hunting in the forest, loses his way. Hearing the sound of weeping, he finds Mélisande and persuades her to come home with him. In Arkel's castle,
Geneviève reads a letter from Golaud, confessing his marriage to Mélisande and seeking forgiveness. Pelléas is refused permission to join his dying friend Marcellus, since his father is also near to death. In th
e third scene Pelléas and Mélisande meet outside the castle. In the second act Pelléas is showing Mélisande the castle grounds. They sit by the side of a shady fountain, where, as the clock strikes midday, she drops the ring that Golaud had given her. In the castle Golaud is resting. At midday his horse had thrown him. He notices that Mélisande no longer wears the ring he gave her, and angrily tells her that she must find it, with the help of Pelléas. In the following scene Pelléas and Mélisande enter the cave where she has told Golaud she had lost the ring. They find paupers sleeping there, and quietly leave. In the third act Mélisande, at the window of a tower in the castle, is combing her hair for the night. Pelléas comes to the foot of the tower, from where he can fondle her hair. Golaud emerges, to upbraid them for their childishness. He leads Pelléas down to a disuse
d well in the castle vaults, where a slip would be fatal. When they emerge he openly tells Pelléas to avoid the company of Mélisande. At night in front of the castle, Golaud makes his son Yniold stand on his shoulders and tell him what he sees in Mélisande's chamber. He sees her there with Pelléas. Pelléas, in the fourth act, has been warned that he must leave. Before he goes, he seeks to meet Mélisande by the Fountain of the Blind. Arkel is moved by the beauty of Mélisande and is shocked when Golaud, in his presence, speaks angrily to her. In the park, Yniold questions a shepherd, before running off. Pelléas and Mélisande meet and avow their love for each other, observed by Golaud, who kills Pelléas and wounds Mélisande. In the final act Mélisande, in a chamber in the castle, is recovering from her wounds. She gives birth to a baby girl, but dies, leaving the child to live in her place."

Belgian writer Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949)
Belgian writer Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)