Debussy - The Edgar Allan Poe Operas | Pan Classics PC10342

Debussy - The Edgar Allan Poe Operas

£20.66

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Label: Pan Classics

Cat No: PC10342

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 2

Genre: Opera

Release Date: 10th June 2016

Contents

Artists

William Dazeley
Eugene Villanueva
Virgil Hartinger
Lin Lin Fan
Michael Dries
Gottinger Symphonie Orchester

Conductor

Christoph-Mathias Mueller

Works

Debussy, Claude

The Devil in the Belfry (completed Robert Orledge)
The Fall of the House of Usher (completed Robert Orledge)

Artists

William Dazeley
Eugene Villanueva
Virgil Hartinger
Lin Lin Fan
Michael Dries
Gottinger Symphonie Orchester

Conductor

Christoph-Mathias Mueller

About

Claude Debussy’s opera Pelléas et Mélisande premièred in 1902 and is regarded as a very special masterpiece, albeit a solitary one. The composer’s relationship with opera however was not as distanced as one could suppose from focusing on this single work which is in fact not an isolated component within the artist’s oeuvre.

Plans existed for further operatic projects and Debussy devoted himself intensely to two operas based on texts by Edgar Allen Poe during the last few years of his life which were dominated by ill health. He continued working on The Fall of the House of Usher until shortly before his death and was distraught at not being able to complete this composition. The Devil in the Belfry has only survived in sketch form. The English musicologist Robert Orledge, a renowned expert within the field of French music, reconstructed both operas with great sensitivity to Debussy’s compositional style, augmenting missing passages.

Debussy had promised the New York Metropolitan Opera the premiere of the Poe operas, apparently still believing that he would complete them both. The composer received contractual confirmation that both works would only be performed consecutively on the same evening, meaning that the gloomy melancholy of one work would serve as a counterweight to the mocking humour of the other. This production featuring the Göttinger Symphonie Orchester is therefore a world première: according to Debussy’s wishes, the two operas would have been performed at the New York Metropolitan Opera in this exact juxtaposition.

Cast:

The Fall of the House of Usher (CD1)
- Roderick Usher: William Dazeley
- Roderick's friend: Eugene Villanueva
- Doctor: Virgil Hartinger
- Lady Madeline: Lin Lin Fan

The Devil in the Belfry (CD2)
- Le Bourgmestre: Eugene Villanueva
- Jeannette: Lin Lin Fan
- Le Haut-sonneur: Michael Dries
- Jean: Virgil Hartinger

Reviews

[The Devil in the Belfry] contains a number of orchestral set pieces – a polka, a tarantella, a waltz of the tulips. Orledge’s musical starting point seems to have been Debussy’s Images rather than any of his later orchestral works, though there are echoes of other composers, too – Chabrier, especially, as well as Koechlin and Ravel. His work is an expert piece of inventive scholarship, and its quality comes across in this performance, conducted by Christoph-Mathias Mueller, which may not be ideal but certainly conveys a sense of what the piece is all about. Alongside it, though, The Fall of the House of Usher, with William Dazeley magnificently intense in the central role of Roderick, is more convincing, musically and dramatically.  Andrew Clements
The Guardian 10 June 2016

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