Monday, March 7, 2011

Grieg - Peer Gynt Suites etc. - Ruud, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra







There have been many, many excellent recordings of Grieg's Peer Gynt Suites, and I personally prefer collections that offer a somewhat larger selection of incidental music, minus the voices (save perhaps for Solveig's two numbers). Still, if you want just the two canonical suites, you can't go wrong with this excellent release. Ole Kristian Ruud knows the music about as well as anyone alive, and it goes without saying that the orchestra does too. There are some Edvard Grieg wonderful things here, including an effortless, surging "Morning Mood" and one of the best accelerandos on disc during "In the Hall of the Mountain King". Are there any debits? Well, maybe "Ase's Death" could have a richer string sound at its central climax, but these and any other minor issues really are vanishingly small.
The couplings add a good bit of interest to this release. Bell Ringing, a wonderfully impressionistic item that forms a sort of appendix to the Lyric Suite, is very nice to have, while the Old Norwegian Melody with Variations never has really caught on as a repertory item. I suppose it's a bit episodic, and it lacks the consistent level of melodic distinction characteristic of Grieg's best work; but it's certainly pleasing and this performance demonstrates that its neglect must be counted a mystery. The Funeral March is unusually powerful for a composer of Grieg's generally gentle mien, particularly here in its original wind band scoring.
As in all of the most recent SACDs from this source, BIS's engineering produces eminently natural, sumptuous results in all formats. Is this "the best"? Given the volume of available competition it's impossible to say, but in most respects you'll find these interpretations to be as fine as anything out there, and if you've been collecting this series there's no conceivable reason to hesitate.--David Hurwitz



flac, covers

1 comment:

  1. Big thank you! Comparing Peer Gynt versions can be fun. Now if I could only find the version my 8 year old ears heard.



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