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Hvidtfelt Nielsen: Ophelia Dances, etc

Bjarke Mogensen, Svend Hvidtfelt Nielsen; Aarhus Symphony Orchestra; Aarhus Sinfonietta/Henrik Vagn Christensen, Ari Rasilainen (Dacapo)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Hvidtfelt Nielsen
Toccata*; Ophelia Dances; Symphony No. 3 (Watching Life)
Bjarke Mogensen (accordion), Svend Hvidtfelt Nielsen (organ); Aarhus Symphony Orchestra; Aarhus Sinfonietta/Henrik Vagn Christensen, *Ari Rasilainen
Dacapo 8.226581   64:56 mins

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This engaging disc offers beautifully-recorded performances of three substantial works from contemporary Danish composer Svend Hvidtfelt Nielsen (b1958). Hvidtfelt Nielsen’s scores are renowned for their mesmerising delicacy of sound amid highly complex textures, and his music is performed here with impeccable clarity by the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra and Aarhus Sinfonietta. Ophelia Dances (2012), a concerto for accordion and chamber ensemble, takes flight from the composer finding himself suddenly able to ‘hear the dancing’ of Shakespeare’s famously fragile character. Not to be confused with Oliver Knussen’s superlative 1975 work of almost the same name, Hvidtfelt Nielsen’s score is nonetheless beguilingly beautiful. The piece shifts between an uncanny, glistening stillness and furious energy, with a powerful performance by accordionist Bjarke Mogensen packed with energy and mystery.

Hvidtfelt Nielsen remains a working church organist and gives a deft solo performance in Toccata, his organ concerto. Composed in 2013-14 and modelled on the momentous organ works of Dietrich Buxtehude and Carl Nielsen, the concerto opens to a shimmering perpetuum mobile before this vigour slowly gives way to a chorale-like theme of deep serenity. The disc finishes with the composer’s grand Symphony No. 3 (2010) which, in the simplest terms, moves gradually from the rumbling depths of the orchestra to its glimmering heights. The work is performed with consummate control by the Aarhus Symphony under the assured baton of Henrik Vagn Christensen, bringing this expertly-recorded disc to a radiant close.

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Kate Wakeling