Nielsen: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 2; Symphony No. 3; Symphony No. 4; Bøhmisk-dansk folketone; At the Bier of a Young Artist

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COMPOSERS: Nielsen
LABELS: EMI Double Forte
WORKS: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 2; Symphony No. 3; Symphony No. 4; Bøhmisk-dansk folketone; At the Bier of a Young Artist
PERFORMER: Danish RSO/Herbert Blomstedt
CATALOGUE NO: CZS 5 74188 2 ADD Reissue (1975)
The seven years between Nielsen’s first two symphonies seem an almost immeasurable gulf: the first, with its Brahmsian earnestness, is very much of the 19th century, the second incontrovertibly belongs to the 20th. While much in the First Symphony foreshadows the mature composer, not least its irresistible symphonic logic, Blomstedt’s search for novelty, in a distinctly thick-set performance, neglects the joyous impetus Nielsen generates so effortlessly. His way with the Second and Third Symphonies is more focused – although the lovely reading of the latter’s slow movement is undermined by the vocal soloists – and his passionate performance of the Fourth is highly recommendable. Although the Danish Radio Symphony plays with a will, the results often lack refinement and the recorded sound is constricted. Interestingly, on disc Blomstedt’s main competitor is himself with the San Francisco Symphony on Decca in more idiomatic performances which are both better played and recorded. Jan Smaczny

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