WORKS: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 2; Symphony No. 3; Symphony No. 4; Symphony No. 5; Symphony No. 6
PERFORMER: Gothenburg SO/Neeme Järvi
CATALOGUE NO: 437 507-2 DDD
By a freak of licensing, Järvi’s Nielsen Fourth and Sixth Symphonies are those same magnificent animals which set the pulses racing on the BIS set reviewed in July. This time the intervening Fifth receives not merely a good interpretation but a great one: the combative side-drum is overwhelmingly routed and the Gothenburg strings battle confidently with serried ranks of unpredictable notes to reflect the white-heat precision with which Nielsen worked, sometimes for 17 hours at a stretch, on the most embattled finale in the entire symphonic repertoire. There’s a similar, disciplined blaze for the first movement of No. 3 – an impressive prototype as well as a titanic creation in its own right.
In the first two symphonies the hushed reminders of all that Nielsen found ‘idyllic and heavenly in nature’ constantly surprise here. Chung (BIS) makes a better argument for the young Nielsen as down-to-earth Dane, so if you own or like the idea of that set you won’t be disappointed. Both cycles offer the authentic voice of an orchestra which loves the music more obviously than Blomstedt’s rightly-praised San Francisco Symphony (Decca). But it’s always Järvi who truly scales the heights. David Nice