Grieg's incidental music (1874) for Henrik Ibsen's picaresque play Peer Gynt is among the most popular music by any composer anywhere. Filmgoers will recall Edward G. Robinson's death scene in Soylent Green (his last motion picture appearance) to Grieg's Morning Mood from Act IV; some playgoers may recall that after having been blacklisted from film work by HUAC, actor John Garfield staged Peer Gynt on Broadway with co-star Karl Malden in 1951.
Several years ago conductor Neeme Jarvi led a production of the complete incidental music (from the newly-published edition, 1997) by Grieg for DGG. Here, Paavo Jarvi has assembled a wonderful vocal cast to capture Peer Gynt's narrative, inscribing twenty of the twenty-six numbers of the complete score. Alternately aggressive, rustic, bumptious, and intimate, Jarvi takes the Estonian National Orchestra through the diverse affects that define Peer's boastful prodigal character; as well as through the exotic motifs of the North and of Arabia; and eventually through the heart-breaking pathos of the faithful Solveig. The range of colors is striking, from a rustic solo violin to the various hallings and shipwrecks, to the stunning solemnity of Ase's death. While this reviewer certainly will not relinquish his renditions of this music by Beecham, Barbirolli and the elder Jarvi, this hour of spellbinding music-making will remain near the audio components as well. Brilliant sound, and as tender a voice in Ms. Tilling's Solveig as ever I have heard. Highly recommended.
**** out of ***** stars.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
CD REVIEW: Grieg: Peer Gynt
From the Audiophile Audition review by Gary Lemco: