ARNOLD SCHOENBERG (1874-1951)
Pelléas et Mélisande - symphonic poem
ELOQUENCE 469 690 2
Commentary on the Eloquence series
Universal confound sceptics like me by adding not one but two Schoenberg
discs to their garage forecourt and supermarket bargain price Eloquence series.
This music is far from tough. We hear instead the early Schoenberg of
Gurrelieder rather than the often dysjunct, arid and rebarbative material
of his full maturity.
Pelléas et (surely it should be 'und'?) Mélisande
is a familiar subject approached by both Sibelius and Fauré.
Sinopoli tackles Schoenberg's first orchestral work (Op. 5) on a very expansive
basis. Indeed, I understand, from my research, that, at 46 mins, this is
the longest playing recorded version. The music is late late-romantic carrying
about it the lineage or auguries of Richard Strauss (Alpine Symphony in
track 7), Zemlinsky, Franz Schmidt and startlingly, Elgar and Allan Pettersson
(track 9). It has something about it of Mahler 9 and 10. Another work in
the same territory is Miaskovsky's Thirteenth Symphony and Bernard van Dieren's
Chinese Symphony. The music seems to be an extension, in tormented
tonality, of an immeasurably finer work, Josef Suk's Asrael Symphony.
The Schoenberg work is a florid rhapsody that in this version sprawls
and meanders. I am not familiar with other versions but would not be surprised
if a tauter approach would convince more easily. As it stands the music does
not grip the imagination. Verklärte Nacht is more successful.
The rhapsodic Elgarian regret and dreamlike torture of the writing communicates
Of the six Eloquence CDs I have reviewed I note that none strayed across
the Philips, DG and Decca divides. Each disc draws its versions exclusively
from one of the three catalogues. This contrasts with the contemporaneous
Panorama series which flits freely across the three catalogues.
The present disc is a straight reissue of DG 439 942-2GH issued in 1995.
Like all the discs in the Eloquence series it has been subject to the AMSI
process to achieve greater presence and brilliance. Whether this has had
any real effect on what we hear I do not know. The sound, however, is most
In terms of playing time this is likely to be the most generous in the whole