Aeon's 2005 recording of Ibsen's 1867 verse play Peer Gynt, including the incidental music by Edvard Grieg, clocks in at about three and a quarter hours and is the closest thing to a complete performance of the play and incidental music available on CD, but even so, the text was considerably trimmed for that production. For listeners more interested in the music than the play, Aeon has released this disc of the music from that recording. It's advertised as the "unabridged score," but to fit it on a single disc, four numbers had to be omitted. At 75 minutes, it includes substantially more music than the two popular suites, enough to satisfy most listeners looking for a nearly complete performance of Grieg's score. This version uses soloists and chorus according to Grieg's intentions for the incidental music, offering fresh insights into the music for listeners familiar only with the suites. Guillaume Tourniaire leads l'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in sensitive and carefully shaped performances of the brief musical episodes. His is a fairly conventional reading of the score, but it is spirited and played with style, and shouldn't disappoint the composer's fans. The addition of the chorus in two of the movements devoted to Peer's adventures in the hall of the Mountain King is especially thrilling, and Le Motet de Genève sings beautifully and vigorously. The vocal soloists are very fine, particularly Inger Dam-Jensen as Solveig. Grieg's use of a Hardanger fiddle, a Norwegian folk instrument similar to a violin, is exceptionally effective, and gives the score a much stronger nationalistic flavor than the music from the suites suggests, and it's played with raw vitality by Vegar Vardal. Aeon's sound is clear and well-balanced, with a good sense of presence.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins