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Grieg: Orchestral Music 5

Bjarte Engeset Audio CD

Price: £11.02 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Disc: 1
1. Peer Gynt, Complete Incidental Music, Op. 23 Act I
2. Act II
3. Act III
4. Act IV
Disc: 2
1. Peer Gynt, Complete Incidental Music, Op. 23 Act V
2. Before a Southern Convent (Foran Sydens Kloster), Op. 20
3. Bergliot, Op. 42

Product Description

Grieg's incidental music for Ibsen's play Peer Gynt (1874-5) won immediate success and ranks among his most enduringly popular compositions, its huge range of orchestral tone-colours and creative use of space captured on this recording by placing actors, chorus, and folk musicians both onstage and behind the scenes. Foran Sydens Kloster, composed in 1871 as an interlude for Bjørnson's heroic play Arnljot Gelline, and Bergliot, a monodrama written in the same year and orchestrated in 1875, reveal Grieg as a master composer of dramatic and lyrical stage music. This recording includes authentic folk musician recordings as well as the original narration.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Maybe TOO complete? 1 Mar 2009
By Classic Music Lover - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I purchased this CD from Amazon after having read an extremely positive music review in the March '09 issue of Gramophone magazine. In addition to praising the performance in general, the reviewer emphasized that this is the only truly complete recording available of the Peer Gynt incidental music. Having known and loved the Per Dreier/London Symphony recording also billed as "complete" (released in 1978), I was intrigued by this new recording -- evidently a great opportunity to get to hear yet more music from Grieg's highly interesting score.

Well ... it turns out there's really no additional MUSIC in this new rendition, unless you count several brief instances of "country fiddlin' around a la Norsk" played in a (deliberately) untrained manner. Otherwise, the new material consists of stretches of plain spoken dialogue (with no accompaniment), along with some wild screaming by the Herd Girls/Trolls/Troll King's Daughter -- again using untrained voices -- that gives a frightful new meaning to the term "descant." On subsequent listening, I was able to program out the dialogue, but not the shrieking of the trolls/women/hags, unfortunately.

Another irritating aspect of the recording is the conductor's decision to include portions of Peer Gynt's dialogue overtop some of Grieg's most memorable music. So, for instance, we get to hear Peer's frantic storytelling while his mother lays dying. This would be great for watching a DVD of an actual production of the play, but on a CD recording it just gets in the way. There are numerous other occasions where Peer shouts and wails above the orchestra -- and the listener starts to become as long-suffering as Peer's poor wife Solveig.

The music itself is played very well -- about on par with the Per Dreier/LSO recording. Conductor Engeset whips the Malmo Orchestra players into a nice frenzy at times. The Naxos recording has two other things going for it: the inclusion of two filler items that are rarely heard and thus worth getting to know ... as well as its budget price. And for "total completists," I imagine this would be the Peer Gynt performance to buy.

But if you're looking for a recording of 95%+ of the music that doesn't include the spoken dialogue (in an obscure Norwegian dialect to boot), or piercingly loud screeching and cackling overtop the music at the most inopportune moments, I recommend sticking with the Per Dreier recording, which also boasts great sonics and sounds like it was recorded yesterday.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Peer Gynt Incidental Music comes in multiple forms. 9 July 2012
By Jm Mac - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
There are many variations of Peer Gynt to choose from. A quick course on what is going on...

Peer Gynt Incidental Music

Opus 23:

There are two versions of the Play with Incidental Music (in 5 acts): the original (29 music cues) and the apocryphal (by Grieg) coming later (31 music cues). The later apocryphal has the extra movts: "Solveigs Song" (Act III instrumental), "Norwegian Dances"(Act II) and "wedding procession"(Act I). Rarely do the "Norwegian Dances" make it into "full versions". So there are multiple variants of those two versions!

Next in our learning journey of the versions out there, we see 1) the full Play with Incidental Music, 2) just the Incidental Music 'complete' (incl musical snippets behind some dialogue), and then 3) Incidental Music of just the "set pieces" [ca 20-25 movts/parts]. Last are the suites; These are the least satisfying.

The suites were compiled, out of order, in two sets of 4 movts each, years apart by the composer to capitalize on the good reviews the incidental music received. (That is not entirely UN-typical of showcase suites.) The selections chosen for the suite further are altered from the originals (including form and orchestration and lacking choir), except for Morganstimmung (Prelude to Act IV, which begins the suites).

Any given conductor/arranger further can pick and choose from that smorgasbord of pieces and schema to make his own set. Some conductors/arrangers might add _some_ of the small music interludes between the "set pieces"; some add some of the dialogue that "ramp" to the "set pieces". Some omit some of the "set pieces" --especially ones dependent on "ramp-ing" and with in-and-out dialogue.

Normally when one decides what recorded version of a work he wants, he generally looks for tempo, performers and mixing/sound to his liking (or rather someone else's liking he heard previously ;-) ). When deciding for Peer gynt, one has to factor in the complexity of the smorgasbord first.

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The Malmoe Symphony Orchestra's version [ASIN: B001I9UPOI] is the original version with no apocryphal music. It is organized properly for MP3 download --but the Amazon listing of scenes for the CD is warped [as of 7/12]. It has "Foran Sydens kloster" and "Bergliot" -- which are filler from the end of the CD -- listed as coming in between ACT V's 'Night Scene' and 'Lovely Earth'! This version includes dialogue cues that come over music; and some dialogue only scenes (partial of course); probably included to help convey the story.

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The Bergen version [ASIN: B0009UBSQG] has the "Wedding Procession" (opening to Scene 2) but no Norwegian Dances or Solveig's Song (instrumental in ACT III). It also has some of the dialogue [all in Norwegian] from _some_ scenes which are music-less. I have seen versions of this recording on the 'Net called "the complete play". It is NOT. There are many scenes not represented at all here; and the scenes that are represented are just a few lines from the scene.

For that product there are also troubling quirks in the presented order of the scenes/movts [as of 7/12].

(_WHAT IS GOING ON WITH PEER GYNT?! Is it fricking Macbeth?_ No wonder no one plays it in America-- they can't figure it out!)

It would be great if the editors of the track listings for the CD and 'Net lists could get [it] together.

Per Dreier's version seems okay [ASIN: B000001PBA]; and it is _all_ the incidental music --including "Norwegian Dances" and "Solveigs Song" (instrumental behind ACT III scene 3). I wonder what is done for the music that has dialogue cues over it (eg Gynt and Boyg). There is no option to hear samples.

There is an English play version at Amazon [ASIN: B0030JM9H0]. The choir parts are in Norwegian. It has no apocryphal music; it has interesting choice of dialogue-- eg some scenes have a narrator. I have the play and there is no narrator. There may be multiple versions of the play too.

There is also a complete version translated to French; Actually two versions of that in the same product: one with the choir parts still in Norwegian; one in French throughout.

For an Incidental Music version on one CD (ie culled to just some "set pieces"), Yuri Temirkanov's version sounds worth a try [ASIN: B0007INY26]. Purists may say it sounds TOO full for Grieg.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Addition To The Standard PG Suites 27 April 2013
By T. E. Layman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Adding the vocal lines and spoken lines from the play was a great idea, and came off beautifully for me. I found that this heightened the interest in the typical suite music. Also I was intrigued by how germanic spoken Norwegian can be. I kept trying to guess the German dialect. Clearly northern Deutschland, but then realized (of course) this wasn't German at all, but Norwegian. At any rate I found this to be a step ahead of the standard suites because it was beautiful orchestral music, but also beautiful vocal and spoken voice. Great idea.
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