|This is my post from this week's Tuesday Blog.|
Henrik Ibsen ‘s five act play Peer Gynt is one of the most widely performed Norwegian plays. It is loosely based on a Norwegian fairy tale (Per Gynt) which tells the story of the eponymous Per Gynt, a hunter from Kvam, and his various exploits. Gynt rescues three dairy-maids from trolls and shoots the Bøyg, a gigantic, worm-shaped troll-being. The fairy tale is most famously recorded by Asbjørnsen and Moe in Norwegian Folktales. Ibsen believed that the legend of Per Gynt was rooted in fact, and his play is also tinged with characters modelled after Ibsen's own family.
Ibsen asked Edvard Grieg to compose incidental music for the play. Grieg composed a score (his op. 23) that plays approximately ninety minutes. Grieg extracted two suites of four pieces each from the incidental music (Opp. 46 and 55), which became very popular as concert music. The music of these suites, especially Morning Mood starting the first suite, In the Hall of the Mountain King, and the string lament Åse's Death later reappeared in numerous arrangements, soundtracks, etc.
For many years, the suites were the only parts of the music that were available, as the original score was not published until 1908, one year after Grieg's death, by Johan Halvorsen.
The complete score of the incidental music includes several songs and choral pieces. The complete score was believed to be lost until the 1980s and has only been performed in its entirety since then. Some recordings that claim to contain the complete incidental music have 33 and 49 selections including several verses from the drama, read by actors. The original score contains 26 sections.
This week’s Vinyl’s Revenge can be thought of different ways – the one I espouse follows the line that many conductors create their own “concert suites” of music of great stage works, not necessarily following strictly published ones. We’ve seen that for some of the great ballets of Tchaikovsky,Prokofiev and even Khachaturian – Khachaturian himself recorded concert suites that don’t strictly follow his published ones!
This sampling by Czech conductor Václav Neumann of the incidental music for Peer Gynt– though it does include all eight sections that make up the official suites – is a “performance suite” of the incidental music, which is why I attributed it the opus 23.
Two tracks from this album are sung in German by soprano Adele Stolte, including Solveig’s Song(typically performed in concert as an instrumental section from the op. 55 suite).
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Peer Gynt, op.23 (Incidental Music, selections)
- Norwegian Bridal Procession
- Overture To Act II: The Abduction And Ingrid's Lament
- In The Hall Of The Mountain King
- Aase's Death
- Overture To Act IV: Morning Mood
- Arabian Dance
- Anitra's Dance
- Solveig's Song
- Prelude To Act V: Peer Gynt's Homecoming
- Solveig's Lullaby (Soprano Vocals – Adele Stolte)
Václav Neumann, conducting
Philips – 6570 017 (Festivo – Vinyl, LP, Reissue)
Internet Archive URL - https://archive.org/details/EdvardGriegMusicToPeerGyntOp.