Edvard Grieg - Music for Peer Gynt (1876) - Solveig's Song - "Kanske vil der ga" (Elly Ameling)
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Uploaded on Apr 9, 2009
The incidental music Edvard Grieg composed for Henrik Ibsen's play "Peer Gynt" (1867) stands, along with his Holberg suite and piano concerto, among his most universally popular orchestral works. By common consent, the music itself achieved far more for Ibsen's vast and bewildering dramatic poem than any mere stage performance alone could have done, though therein lies a problem: for as Ibsen's English biographer Michael Meyer writes, Grieg's highly romantic music "turns the play into a jolly Hans Andersen fairy tale", one thing its' author who seems preoccupied with presenting a philosophical oeuvre would never have wished for. That may well be the case, but Grieg's incidental music has nevertheless become a universal favorite, and it is not difficult to understand why, considering its' sheer musical merits.
My perennial favorite among the pieces that form the incidental suite remains Solveig's ravishingly beautiful song, as the heroine sings of her everlasting devotion for the wandering Peer. While the text is rather sentimental in its' choice of words, Grieg manages to lift the piece as a whole to the highest summits of musical expression. Structurally, the "aria" is straightforward: two identical orchestral preludes open and close a simple song in two parts. But once we pass this point, the aria is anything but straightforward: the preludes feature a longing, enchanting melody, developing in long, sustained lines of the strings; while the aria, given over a rich string bass line, is sympathetically sincere both in its' narratives and the wordless accompanied cadenzas that close each verse, providing a moving harmony between the soprano's long-breathed music and the strings' fervent playing.
My first upload of this piece actually featured no singing, favoring Grieg's legitimate setting of the music as a concerto for strings and a solo violin replacing the vocalist. And, indeed, the orchestral version remains my favorite, as the music demands almost too much from the singer, both in vocal and expressive terms, thus, in the midst of the piece's numerous recorded renditions, there are strikingly little effective versions (Lucia Popp's rendition being one of the best).
But this 1984 recording, with the lovely voice of Elly Ameling as Solveig, might well be my favorite vocal rendition, with Ameling as pure and melancholic as one could imagine. Hope you'll enjoy :).
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