GRIEG: Music for Peer Gynt – Ilse Hollweg, sop./ Beecham Choral Society/ Royal Philharmonic Orch./ Sir Thomas Beecham (1957) – EMI/Hi-Q Records

by | Jan 7, 2013 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

GRIEG: Music for Peer Gynt (TrackList follows) – Ilse Hollweg, sop./ Beecham Choral Society/ Royal Philharmonic Orch./ Sir Thomas Beecham (1957) – EMI/Hi-Q Records HIQXRCD2 [1/15/13] [] *****:

Don’t expect these to be mono due to the pre-1958 date; EMI was already releasing commercial open reel stereotapes, so these early stereo masters from April and November of 1957 are excellent sonic quality. Beecham was as devoted to the music of Grieg as to Delius, and in fact the very first concert music he ever heard as a child was Grieg. The fictitious Peer Gynt was a famed hunter and slayer of Trolls. The entire play by Ibsen with music about his adventures is a bit difficult to sit thru, but most music-lovers are familiar with the highlights of the music from the two orchestral suites.  Along with Grieg’s Piano Concerto they are some of the most popular classical works in the world. Beecham has here selected ten of the selections from the orchestral suites.

Norwegian folk music is a strong part of all the selections. Among the most famous here are “In the Hall of the Mt. King,” “Solveig’s Song,” and “Anitra’s Dance.” Soprano Ilse Hollweg is heard in Norwegian in both “Solveig’s Song” and the closing “Wiegenlied.”

The sonics of this Abbey Road recording are exceptional, and once again if you have quality playback equipment you will find it difficult to believe the format of this xrcd24 is only the standard 44.1K/16-bit CD.  This is why we have begun putting these extended resolution reviews in our Hi-Res section. (They are priced at about $40.)

[10/20/13 – I just received the vinyl equivalent of this xrcd24 from Hi-Q Records. Naturally I did an A/B comparison of the two sources. For the first time I did hear a major difference: The vinyl was not accurate as to speed and pacing, as is the xdcd—I heard subtle but distinct wow on the LP, and it’s definitely not my SOTA table, which sounds perfectly accurate on everything else. I’m extremely sensitive to speed variations, and somebody when mastering this vinyl goofed.]


1. Wedding March
2. Ingrid’s Lament
3. In the Hall of the Mountain King
4. Morning
5. Ase’s Death
6. 1st Arabian Dance
7. Solveig’s Song
8. Anitra’s Dance
9. Return Of Peer Gynt (Storm Scene)
10. Wiegenlied

—John Sunier

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