Nielsen: Symphony No. 4 (The Inextinguishable); Cupid and the Poet Overture & incidental music; Symphonic Rhapsody; Hjemlige Jul; Ariel’s Song; Genrebillede

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Nielsen
LABELS: Classico
WORKS: Symphony No. 4 (The Inextinguishable); Cupid and the Poet Overture & incidental music; Symphonic Rhapsody; Hjemlige Jul; Ariel’s Song; Genrebillede
PERFORMER: Royal Liverpool PO/Douglas Bostock
CATALOGUE NO: CLASSCD 298
I liked Douglas Bostock’s accounts of the Second and Fifth Symphonies a lot; they were spirited and vital performances of real insight. Like Michael Schønwandt (Dacapo), he uses the newly published score in the scholarly Complete Nielsen Edition. Although the orchestral playing does not have the finesse and polish of Schønwandt’s Danish performance, it is still full of character. Bostock is totally inside Nielsen’s world and tempi are superbly judged and the phrasing sensitive. Instead of coupling the Fourth with another symphony, however, he gives us the early Symphonic Rhapsody of 1888, the overture and four numbers from his incidental music for Amor og Digteren (Cupid and the Poet), written in celebration of Hans Christian Andersen’s 125th anniversary in 1930, and some songs. Both the four excerpts from Cupid and the orchestral version of the appealing Genre Picture are new to CD, although the overture exists in two rival versions. To be frank, none of this is top-drawer Nielsen, but it is more rewarding, say, than An Imaginary Journey to the Faroe Islands written the previous year. Summing up, I wouldn’t say that this Fourth Symphony becomes a first recommendation, but it is certainly near the top of a list headed by Blomstedt, and the rarity of the couplings enhances the attractions of the disc. Readers should not forget the pioneering Grøndahl account on Dutton which, despite its age, sounds astonishingly fresh, and has tremendous fire and an authority of feeling that few others have approached. Robert Layton

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