A Fine Album Of Grieg Operatic Scenes & Incidental Music

Review by: Victor Carr Jr


Artistic Quality: 10

Sound Quality: 10

This CD presents more than an hour’s worth of rarely-heard music. The three main works here were inspired by Edvard Grieg and his librettist Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson’s fascination with the Viking age, with the bulk of the program devoted to Olav Trygvason, the composer’s incomplete opera about Viking King Olav. Scenes 1-3, offered here, contain some of the more extended (and dramatic) musical sequences that Grieg, known chiefly for small-form pieces, ever composed. There’s melodically fetching (of course, it’s Grieg!) material for soprano, mezzo, and bass interspersed with stirring choral and orchestral passages (the end of Scene 2 brings to mind the composer’s famous Hall of the Mountain King). The characters interact in a narrative-dramatic oratorio style similar to Sibelius’ Kullervo Symphony.

It’s all men for the other two Viking works: the anthem-like Landkjenning (Land-Sighting) and Sigurd Jorsalfar (Sigurd the Crusader), familiar from the string orchestra suite Grieg arranged from his incidental music. The selections here expand upon that, including two robust male choruses, a stirring Horn Calls for orchestra, and Act 1’s Introduction and Intermezzo, both featuring fine tenor solos.

After all its Viking bravado, the disc concludes with the gentle song Resignation, composed by Edmund Neupert and arranged by Grieg for orchestra. The performances by soloists, chorus, and orchestra are excellent throughout under conductor Bjarte Engeset’s leadership. And it’s all captured in top-notch sound. If you like Grieg, and vocal music, you’ll enjoy this release.

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Recording Details:

EDVARD GRIEG: Landkjenning; Olav Trygvason; Sigurd Jorsalfar
EDMUND NEUPERT (arr. Grieg): Resignation

  • Nina Gravrok (soprano); Marianne E. Andersen (mezzo-soprano); Helge Ronning (tenor); Yvgne Soberg, Magne Fremmerlid (bass)
  • Malmö Opera Orchestra; Malmö Chamber Choir; Lund Student Singers; Malmö Opera Chorus; Malmö Symphony Orchestra, Bjarte Engeset

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