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Edvard Grieg: Peer Gynt

Grieg / Henschel / Jensen / Koch / Iliev / Reiche
Release Date: 05/11/2010 
Label:  Aeon   Catalog #: 1098   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Edvard Grieg
Performer:  Sophie KochDietrich HenschelInger Dam-Jensen
Conductor:  Guillaume Tourniaire
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande OrchestraGeneva Motet Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

GRIEG Peer Gynt Guillaume Tourniaire, cond; Dietrich Henschel ( Peer ); Inger Dam-Jensen ( Solveig ); Sophie Koch ( Antira ); Le Motet de Genève; Suisse Romande O ÆON AECD 1098 (75:28)

The music that Grieg provided for Peer Gynt varied from performance to performance Read more during his lifetime, and, apart from the ubiquitous suites, he never got around to publishing a definitive score. The current assumption is that he had selected 26 numbers that would have comprised that “complete” score. They have been recorded by Neeme Järvi (Archiv) and Bjarte Engeset (Naxos). Per Dreier (Unicorn-Kanchana) was more complete than “complete,” having recorded any music Grieg is thought to have used in any performance of Peer Gynt. Now Guillaume Tourniaire has apparently recorded another “complete” Peer Gynt . I say “apparently” because this disc does not quite fill the bill. Unfortunately, the anointed 26 will not fit on a single CD, so this disc omits three numbers: (6) Peer Gynt and the Woman in Green, (18) Peer Gynt and Anitra, and (20) Peer Gynt at the statue of Memnon. However, there’s an intriguing entry in the Æon catalog that accompanies this disc. It’s a three-disc set, which I take to be the complete Ibsen drama with the complete Grieg score. (Also listed are two-disc sets labeled “ Peer Gynt English version” and “ Peer Gynt German version,” respectively.)

So this release does not compete directly with Järvi, Engeset, and Dreier, but it does contend with extended suites by Blomstedt, Salonen, and Paavo Järvi. Tourniaire offers slightly more of the score. All four include vocal and choral elements, but Salonen skips Peer’s and Anitra’s solos. Blomstedt’s performance incorporates snippets of dialogue like the ones that enhance Järvi père ’s, and, especially, Engeset’s versions. They have been snipped in Æon’s reduction. Tourniaire’s performance leaves little to be desired. The OSR is in fine form; the chorus is superb, as are the three soloists. Considering its source, it should come as no surprise that Tourniaire relishes the dramatic and fantastic episodes in the score. The listeners who may be in for a surprise are the ones who know Peer Gynt only from the popular suites. However, this disc may not be a right fit for those listeners. Æon has provided no translations of the Norwegian texts or even of the titles of the individual numbers (given in French). Nor is there a synopsis of Ibsen’s play. Novice listeners will have no idea of what has prompted all the shouting “Dans le palais du Roi de la montagne” or the soothing strains of the “Berceuse de Solveig.” Otherwise, this disc is definitely worth a hearing.

FANFARE: George Chien
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Works on This Recording

Peer Gynt, Op. 23: Excerpt(s) by Edvard Grieg
Performer:  Sophie Koch (Mezzo Soprano), Dietrich Henschel (Baritone), Inger Dam-Jensen (Soprano)
Conductor:  Guillaume Tourniaire
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra,  Geneva Motet Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1875/1892; Norway 

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