Relayed from the National Museum of Wales
National Orchestra of Wales
(Cerddorfa Genedlaethol Cymru)
The incidental music which Grieg wrote for Ibsen's play, Peer Gynt, has achieved so wide a popularity as to be played far oftener than the drama to which it originally belonged, and Grieg east it in the form of two Suites, furnishing a short summary of the story, indicating the parts of it to which the different movements relate.
The first piece in the Second Suite is 'Ingrid's Lament.' Of this Grieg tells us that among Peer Gynt's wild adventures, he came on one occasion to a peasant's wedding where he carried off the bride to the mountains, only to leave her there. The opening of the lament alternates between angry outbursts and a solemn plaint, after which the lament begins very simply and sadly on the strings alone, the other voices of the orchestra joining later. At the end again we hear the angry mood of the opening twice.
The second movement is an Arabian Dance.
In the play this is part of the incident to which we owe also 'Anitra's Dance' from the first Suite Peer, outlawed and wandering in foreign countries, is greeted in Morocco by Arabs who dance for him. The dance begins on flutes, with accompaniment only of percussion instruments, and the woodwinds have throughout a large share in it, though there is a short middle section for strings alone.
The third movement depicts Peer Gynt's home-coming. He is now an old man, and after many wonderful guidings of fate and after suffering shipwreck, reaches home as poor as when he left it. The movement sets before us a stormy evening on the coast, with Peer Gynt's melancholy thoughts woven into the fabric amid the sound of angry elements. Solveig, 'sweetheart of his youth, has remained true to him all these years; she meets him and his weary head at last finds rest in her lap.' She sings what is possibly the best-known number of the incidental music which Grieg wrote for the play-'Solveig's Song.' In this arrangement the voice part is given to the first violins.
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