Maurice Maeterlinck’s 1898 French symbolist play, Pelléas and Mélisande, facilities round a doomed love triangle. Set in an historic ruined fort and a dense forest, it “expresses a way that human beings perceive neither themselves nor one another nor the world.” (Bettina Knapp)
Joan Pataky Kosove writes,
Pelléas et Mélisande tells the story of a younger and exquisite woman who marries one man, falls in love with one other, and dies. However the play is neither about youth nor magnificence, neither about love nor loss of life. Pelléas et Mélisande offers with an intriguing and complicated irony, the presentiment of catastrophe in the meanwhile of happiness and calm. To the extent that the work succeeds, we expertise not the presentiment however a modal impact applicable to a realization about life that’s half unhappy and half comedian, half startling and half puzzling, however completely inevitable.
Though the play by no means achieved fashionable success on the stage, it anticipated the work of Samuel Beckett. It additionally impressed incidental music by Gabriel Fauré and Jean Sibelius, a symphonic poem by Arnold Schoenberg, and Claude Debussy’s solely accomplished opera.
In 1898, Fauré accepted a fee to write down incidental music for the play’s first English language manufacturing in London. The composer labored below a good time constraint. In a letter to his spouse, he wrote:
I must grind away onerous for Mélisande once I get again. I hardly have a month and a half to write down all that music. True, a few of it’s already in my thick head!
Fauré recycled beforehand written music, most notably the well-known Sicilienne, which can have been conceived initially for the incidental music of Moliére’s Le Bourgeois gentilhomme. He relied on his scholar, Charles Koechlin, to supply the orchestrations for the small theater ensemble. Later, Fauré returned to the music and offered his personal orchestrations for the live performance suite.
Fauré’s music is elegant, serene, and magical. The Prélude (Quasi Adagio) is stuffed with each sensuality and tragic foreboding. Pastel colours emerge because the flute and different wind devices mix with the strings. A sequence of instrumental voices, together with the solo flute, oboe, clarinet, and cello take the stage in a shimmering musical drama. Within the Prélude’s ultimate moments, a horn name echoes via the forest.
The second motion, Fileuse (Andantino quasi Allegretto) is a “spinning track.” A pastoral melody within the oboe rises above incessant triplets within the violins which depict Mélisande at a spinning wheel. A dialogue emerges between the oboe and bassoon, whereas the clarinet initiates one of many rating’s recurring themes.
The Sicilienne (Allegretto molto moderato) is one in all Fauré’s most beloved items. Launched by the flute and harp, its buoyant melody begins in veiled G minor, flirts with main, and breaks into the daylight at its ultimate cadence. Within the context of the play, this flowing music is evocative of the water fountain during which Mélisande loses her wedding ceremony ring. It accompanies the blissful assembly of Pelléas and Mélisande.
The Suite concludes with The Dying of Mélisande (Molto Adagio). Set within the melancholy key of D minor with modal inflections, it’s a solemn funeral procession. The flute is heard in its haunting lowest register amid a quiet trumpet name and plodding timpani drumbeats. The ultimate bars drift away into everlasting lament.
François Leleux and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra gave this efficiency on Could 12, 2017:
- Fauré: Pelléas and Mélisande, Op. 80, Seiji Ozawa, Boston Symphony Orchestra Amazon
Featured Picture: “Pelléas et Mélisande” (1910), Edmund Blair Leighton