Swedish Romantics: Wilhelm Peterson-Berger 'Arnljot' excerpts
Besides its natural beauty Jämtland is notable for its history-long ago it was independent of Norway and Sweden, after which it was passed between them more than thirty times. These historical facts form the background of the opera. The Arnljot returns to Jämtland after wandering with the Vikings. He finds that his intended Gunhild has married his enemy Gudfast, who has also blackened Arnljot’s reputation. The disc’s first excerpt, Arnljot’s Greeting Song, dramatically encapsulates the hero’s feelings on returning to his homeland. After this overwhelming scene, our hero heads to a meeting of the Jämtish council, the Thing, where the council members arrive to the second excerpt, the Thing March. Here Gudfast deliberately taunts Arnljot until Arnljot kills him. For this he is exiled to the forest.At last! The famous LP now transferred successfully to CD. All the important parts of the opera are included!
In Act II Arnljot is living in the forest as an outlaw. He is attended only by the Sami (Lap) girl Waino, who is not so secretly in love with him. In her first plaintive song (excerpt 3) she sings of her unrequited love. Most of the emotional content is carried by the orchestra until the vocal line becomes more intense towards the end of the song. The centerpiece of Act II is Arnljot’s encounter with Gunhild (excerpt 4). She has converted to Christianity and is journeying to join King Olaf of Norway. Arnljot reminds her that she had offered to join him when he was exiled by the Thing. Now he wants to keep her with him in the forest but Gunhild rejects this and only wishes to continue to Norway. Arnljot eventually shows her the way. Peterson-Berger’s music in this section is mostly of a chamber music texture, which serves to emphasize the strong emotions while also portraying the dark forest where the scene takes place.