GRAMOPHONE Magazine Editor's Choice - February 2016. dB Productions celebrate the 150th anniversary of Carl Nielsen with two CD volumes of his music! Featured again on this second volume is one of Sweden’s leading violinists, Cecilia Zilliacus, in Nielsen’s violin concerto. The Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra is conducted by young rising star, Daniel Blendulf.
The second installment in Sakari Oramo's superb hybrid SACD cycle of the symphonies of Carl Nielsen on BIS presents the Symphony No. 1 in G minor and the Symphony No. 3, "Sinfonia espansiva," two ruggedly independent works that reflect the composer's late Romantic style yet point to the modernism to come. While the Symphony No. 1 was influenced by Brahms and offers a rich harmonic language, propulsive rhythms, and a fairly homogenous orchestral palette, the Symphony No. 3 is striking for its reliance on unfolding counterpoint and long-breathed lines, and most notable for the use of wordless parts for soprano and baritone voices in the pastoral slow movement. These performances by Oramo and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra are exceptional for their stunning power and spacious feeling, though the crisp details and focused sound quality will be the biggest draw for audiophiles.
Raised in the Danish countryside as the son of a poor folk musician, Carl Nielsen possessed indomitable courage and infinite curiosity: qualities that helped him develop into one of the greatest symphonists of the 20th century and eventually Denmark’s national composer. This box set collects the acclaimed live recording series of Nielsen’s complete symphonies and concertos by the New York Philhamonic, Music Director Alan Gilbert, and soloists Nikolaj Znaider, Robert Langevin, and Anthony McGill.
This sensational disc has served as a reference edition for both concertos since it was first issued back in the late 1980s. The Sibelius concerto is distinguished by the tension between Lin’s passionate and virtuosic account of the solo part and Salonen’s remarkable precision at the head of the orchestra. Listen, for example, to the remarkable rhythmic clarity at the opening of the finale, and to the way this serves to “float” Lin’s daredevil pyrotechnics up above. It’s just marvellous. The same holds true of the Nielsen–there is no finer account of this neglected concerto. It’s a rarity because in the finale Nielsen subordinates flash and dazzle to the work’s overall emotional arc, progressing from anger to contentment. That doesn’t mean the music isn’t excellent, or that Lin and Salonen’s performances aren’t gripping from first note to last. They tear into the opening movement with apt ferocity and find the necessary emotional resolution in the work’s amiable conclusion. The detailed, well-balanced sound ideally suits the interpretations. Essential.
"Much more than just an entertaining offshoot of the same team’s deeply-felt Nielsen Symphonies cycle, this disc highlights Nielsen’s wide-ranging sense of curiosity. (…) Järvi’s ineffable sense of atmosphere goes hand in glove with the Gothenburg Symphony Hall recording (outstanding as always) in dreamscapes and sea-pictures, while the extrovert, human worlds of Maskarade and Aladdin are deliciously pointed." ~BBC Music Magazine
Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) is Denmark's most famous composer. He studied with Niels Wilhelm Gade at Copenhagen Conservatory and went on study trips to Germany, Austria, Italy and France. Nielsen was court music director in Copenhagen and taught at the Royal Danish Conservatory. His works display strong counterpoint and polytonality as well as traditional melody shapes.