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Grieg: Peer Gynt / Blomstedt, San Francisco Symphony

Grieg / Blomstedt / San Francisco Sym Orch
Release Date: 01/25/2011 
Label:  Eloquence   Catalog #: 4804838   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Edvard Grieg
Performer:  Wendy HoffmanMerilyn VaughnWendy WhiteRichard Haille,   ... 
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony OrchestraSan Francisco Symphony Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

GRIEG Peer Gynt: Incidental Music Herbert Blomstedt (cond); Urban Malmberg ( Peer ); Mari-Anne Haeggander ( Solvieg ); San Francisco SO & Ch DECCA ELOQUENCE 480 4838 (73:09)

Grieg’s Peer Gynt music has been well served on disc. Recordings of the two suites, individually or in tandem, are too numerous to Read more mention. Of the expanded suites, Beecham’s 10-number version deserves classic status; fine 12-number versions by Barbirolli and Marriner come immediately to mind. There are two excellent recordings of the “authentic” complete edition of 26 numbers (Neeme Järvi and Engeset), as well as Dreier’s pioneering, completer-than-complete recording of every number thought to have been used in any performance of the play during Grieg’s lifetime. Finally, there’s not a clunker in the lot of the not-quite-complete-but-long-enough-to-fill-a-whole-CD versions by Masur, Salonen, Tate, Paavo Järvi, Tourniare, and Blomstedt, though Masur’s recording will have a limited appeal for listeners who can’t understand the spoken German narration connecting its musical numbers. Restoring the music that Grieg left out of his ubiquitous suites clearly brings out the best, not only of Grieg, but also of the performers. Nor does it hurt to have a chorus available for “In the Hall of the Mountain King.”

Blomstedt’s recording, made 20 years ago, has the distinction of including enough of the spoken dialogue to warrant a listing of the actors’ names along with those of the singers. The language is Norwegian, but, unlike the Masur version, it’s actual dialogue, not a synopsis, and in the original language. Blomstedt’s direction is impeccable—subtly nuanced, but forceful as needed—with his musicians responding in kind. Urban Malmberg is a sturdy Peer. Mari-Anne Haeggander, who speaks Åse’s part as well as singing Solvieg’s, is good, but not great, when compared with Barbara Hendricks (for Salonen) or, especially, Ellie Ameling (for de Waart, in a 12-number expanded suite, also available on Decca Eloquence). But that is a small quibble. Hearing Grieg’s music in context, even limited as it is here, is a rewarding, even enlightening experience that demolishes the once-prevalent perception of Grieg and his Peer Gynt as placid and inoffensive. Most warmly recommended.

FANFARE: George Chien
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Works on This Recording

Peer Gynt, Op. 23 by Edvard Grieg
Performer:  Wendy Hoffman (Mezzo Soprano), Merilyn Vaughn (), Wendy White (Mezzo Soprano),
Richard Haille (), Urban Malmberg (Baritone), Mari Anne Häggander (Soprano)
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra,  San Francisco Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1875/1892; Norway 
Date of Recording: 06/1988 
Venue:  Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco 
Length: 73 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Language: Norwegian 

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