(1867-1942) Arnljot - opera (excerpts) (1910) (Introduction Act
I - Arnljot's Greeting Song; Thing March; Waino's First Song; Gunhild
and Arnljot - Encounter in the Wilderness; Waino's Second Song; Arnljot's
Dream Vision; Tormod's Song; The Death of Arnljot) [53:14]
Hagegård (baritone) - Arnljot; Karin Langebo (soprano) - Waino;
Edith Thallaug (mezzo) - Gunhild; Björn Asker (baritone) - Tormod;
Kåge Jehrlander (tenor) - Sigurd; Male Chorus of Stockholm Philharmonic
Choir; Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra/Okko Kamu
rec. 16-18 May 1973, Stockholm Concert Hall, Sweden. ADD
first issued on LP - EMI Sweden E061-34925.
STERLING CDO-1082-2 [53:14]
Peterson-Berger - better known on record for his symphonies
- here demonstrates a sure dramatic hand. He has the ability
to imbue ancient characters with a convincing vital humanity.
Arnljot is an eleventh century tale set in Jämtland
in Sweden. Arnljot has been promised these many years to Gunhild.
He has been away at sea a-viking. It's a long and convoluted
saga but comes to a crown in Arnljot's conversion to Christianity.
He suffers death in battle after a return to duty and to Gunhild.
There's a steady Delian-Tannhauser glow to Arnljot's
Greeting while the romping and echoing fanfares of the
Thing March make it a memorable entry. Waino's First
Song is surgingly Puccinian - very exciting and delivered
with a burning flame in the voice by Langebo. There is drama
and nuance in the dialogue between Arnljot and Gunhild. The
music is threaded through with the classic Swedish romantic
impulse - listen to Hagegard in his long 'high hills' solo in
the Encounter. The Dream Vision sports high strings
pianissimo with colder ripples cross-cutting the texture. In
its choral close there is a return to the confident singing
gold of the Swedish lyrical mainstream. Tormod's Song is
brief and another one of those stalwart bardic hymns: patriotic
and yeoman sturdy. The Death of Arnljot is the longest
track and closes the sequence in convincing form.
The words as sung in their original Swedish and with parallel
English translation are in the booklet. There's also a note
by that eminence of Swedish music, Lennart Hedwall who also
provided the rounded concert-endings for these excerpts.
Arnljot was premiered in Stockholm on 13 April 1910.
It is performed every year at the summer festival in the open
air auditorium at Jämtland on the island of Frösö.
Quite apart from two wondrously inventive and unmissably lyrical
symphonies (2 and 3) there are other stage works: Ran,
Domedagsprofeterna (1919) (there's an orchestral suite
on CPO) and finally Adils und Elisif (1927).
This disc certainly leaves you wanting to hear the whole thing
- why not record the next summer festival performance - maybe
even a DVD?
The recording is now just over a quarter century old but holds
up pretty well and certainly there is no distortion.
The Peterson-Berger Society can be contacted via their
I just read your review of the Arnljot highlights disc (originally
issued by Swedish EMI). I bought the LP when it was first issued
and a couple of years ago I transferred it to CD so I can now
play it again without the pops and clicks.
Just a couple of comments: Erland Hagegård, the cousin
of the better known Håkan Hagegård, a couple of
years after this recording changed to tenor and was for some
years one of the best in the country. I still think though that
he should have remained baritone. His greeting song is rather
impressive, though Sigurd Björling, the great Wagner singer
in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, is even more monumental in his recording
from early 1940s.
Concerning the annual Arnljot festival at Frösön,
which started in 1935 and has been held every year since then,
apart from the war years, this is not the opera that is performed
but P-B's libretto as spoken drama and in line with P-B's wish
all the actors are amateurs.
It is a long time since the opera was played, I believe it was
1960, when the Stockholm Opera mounted it with the original
sets to mark 50 years since its first performance. Sixten Ehrling
conducted and Sigurd Björling was Arnljot with a fine cast
of assisting singers. It was broadcast and recorded by Swedish
Radio and was once available as a 3-LP set on Caprice (CAP 1341-43),
but has never been reissued on CD. I have never heard it but
the technical quality is said to be OK. Who knows, some day
it may pop up.
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