Nielsen: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 2; Symphony No. 3; Symphony No. 4; Symphony No. 4; Symphony No. 5; Symphony No. 6

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COMPOSERS: Nielsen
LABELS: Regis
WORKS: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 2; Symphony No. 3; Symphony No. 4; Symphony No. 4; Symphony No. 5; Symphony No. 6
PERFORMER: LSO/Ole Schmidt
CATALOGUE NO: RRC 3002 ADD Reissue (1974)
This was the first one-man overview of the Nielsen canon, and generated great excitement when it first appeared in the mid-Seventies. It had the benefit of a first-rate orchestra, albeit one which was less familiar with these scores than they would be now, and in Ole Schmidt an intuitive Nielsen interpreter. Moreover, it was recorded under the supervision of the greatest Nielsen authority of the day, Robert Simpson, who did more than anyone to put Nielsen on the map in this country. Musically they remain strong and, though the orchestral playing is not entirely free from blemish, Ole Schmidt conveys a keen authenticity of spirit. The Fifth is very impressive and the Sixth (Sinfonia semplice) remains the most searching of the set. Perhaps he loves the First and Second symphonies a shade too much, for they benefit when their unforced and unaffected lyricism is allowed to speak for itself. The sound in the original was far from ideal and there is a limit to what remastering can accomplish. All the same, some trouble has been taken over these transfers, even if there is still not enough air round the aural image and the horns and brass are still too prominent. Yet the sound is bright and in better focus than I remember from the originals, and the explosive opening of the Fourth comes over powerfully with plenty

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of presence. It is good to have these spirited and likeable performances back, even if Blomstedt (Decca) has the benefit of better balanced recording and greater orchestral finesse. Robert Layton