Classical CD Reviews

GRIEG: Peer Gynt–Incidental Music, Op. 23 – Peter Mattei, baritone/Camilla Tilling, soprano/Charlotte Hellenkant, mezzo-soprano/ Paavo Jarvi conducts Ellerhein Girls‚ Choir/Estonian National Male Choir/Estonian National Symphony – Virgin Classics

An hour of spell-binding music with familiar tunes that will stand out

Published on June 24, 2005

GRIEG: Peer Gynt–Incidental Music, Op. 23 – Peter Mattei, baritone/Camilla Tilling, soprano/Charlotte Hellenkant, mezzo-soprano/ Paavo Jarvi conducts Ellerhein Girls‚ Choir/Estonian National Male Choir/Estonian National Symphony – Virgin Classics
GRIEG: Peer Gynt–Incidental Music, Op. 23 – Peter Mattei,
baritone/Camilla Tilling, soprano/Charlotte Hellenkant, mezzo-soprano/
Paavo Jarvi conducts Ellerhein Girls‚ Choir/Estonian National Male
Choir/Estonian National Symphony Orchestra – Virgin Classics 5 45722
2  60:14****:

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.

–Gary Lemco




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