One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount



CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Downloads from The Classical Shop

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Pelléas et Mélisande (sung in English) [154:49]
Arkel – John Tomlinson (bass); Geneviève – Sarah Walker (mezzo); Pelléas – Robert Dean (baritone); Golaud – Neil Howlett (baritone); Mélisande – Eilene Hannan (soprano); Yniold – Rosanne Brackenridge (soprano); Doctor and Shepherd – Sean Rea (bass)
Chorus & Orchestra of English National Opera/Mark Elder
rec. live, London Coliseum, 28 November 1981
English text included
CHANDOS CHAN 3177(3) [3 CDs: 54:24 + 36:10 + 64:15]

Experience Classicsonline


I have always thought of Pelléas et Mélisande as a work where the music is so intimately related to the text and its sound that any translation would seriously weaken its impact. At the same time the resulting need for non-French speakers to follow the printed text and translation whilst listening does mean that there can be a sense of watching the action through a grimy pane of glass. Previous published singing translations that I have encountered lack the fluency of the original French, and can be clumsy and no easier for the listener to follow than the original language. The translation used here is by Hugh MacDonald, whose note in the booklet explains his view that Maeterlinck’s play, the basis for Debussy’s libretto, avoids fanciful language and is in the plainest prose. Accordingly MacDonald believes that the opera should be sung in the language of the audience and should be translated in a very direct way, avoiding the poetic conceits and inverted word orders encountered in other versions. To achieve this he has not hesitated to rewrite the vocal line where necessary in a tactful and convincing manner. The result is very successful in enabling the English-speaking listener to take in and respond to the words as they are sung.
The success or otherwise of such an operation depends crucially on the singers’ ability to enunciate the text clearly. For the most part this is achieved, although as usual it is the female voices that have the greatest difficulty. As a result I found it helpful to have the printed English text beside me when listening but this was not essential. It is very apparent from this recording just what a strong team of singers was available at ENO in 1981. The various roles are cast with a view to the essential vocal contrasts implicit in the music, with Neil Howlett’s strength of voice as well as its very characterful flicker, Eilene Hannan’s ability to convey Mélisande’s fragility without actually sounding fragile herself and John Tomlinson’s weary authority as Arkel most notable. The others are all good too, but as in any satisfactory performance of this opera it is the sense of a team that is most important. Better still, Mark Elder conducts a performance that manages to convey both the strangeness and the passion of the music avoiding the twin traps of becoming fey or coarse.
This was a live performance so that there are occasional stage noises - although applause has mercifully been removed - and a few very minor slips. None of this matters given the real sense of drama here. There are also cuts in some of the interludes between scenes to fit in with the production. I do not know whether these follow the composer’s own original shortened version but they certainly do no harm to either the music or the drama. All in all this is an important and distinguished addition to the Chandos Opera in English series.
John Sheppard


































































Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.