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Cat. No. CHAN 10271(3) X Price: £14 No. of discs: 3
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CHAN 10271 - Nielsen: Complete Symphonies
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Available From: 15 November 2004
"Nielsen was in his mid-twenties when he composed Symphony No. 1 (1891-92). It is possible to discern the influences of Brahms and Dvo¡rák as well as Danish folk music. Nielsen always retained a strong affection for the work and rightly so, for its prodigality of invention and generosity of feeling have an unfailing power to astonish.

Almost a decade separates his Symphony No. 1 from Symphony No. 2 ‘The Four Temperaments’ (1901-02). The subtitle alludes to a set of caricatures Neilsen had seen in a village inn, depicting the four humours: choleric, phlegmatic, melancholy and sanguine.

The best part of another decade elapsed before Nielsen completed his Symphony No. 3 ‘Sinfonia espansiva’. By now his musical personality had deepened, his sense of confidence and independence of thought were stronger, and the sound world he created more tightly focussed. This symphony is remarkable for its electrifying opening, an explosive torrent which unleashes a flood of energy.

There is a level of violence in Symphony No. 4 ‘The Inextinguishable’ (1914-16) new in Nielsen’s art. The comfortable world of the first three symphonies had been shaken by the shock of the First World War. The work, Nielsen said, gave expression to ‘the elemental Will of Life’.

In Nielsen’s Symphony No. 5 (1921), with its even higher threshold of dissonance, we find ourselves in a totally different climate from that of the confident pre-war Nielsen; his musical language had undergone a radical and irrevocable change which Symphony No. 6 ‘Sinfonia semplice’ (1925) reinforces. This last symphony is the most rarely heard of the cycle and in some ways the most enigmatic. During the 1920s Nielsen was troubled by a series of heart attacks which gradually eroded his strength, and it is hard not to sense this in the climax of the first movement.

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Reviews

Excellent playing from the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and exemplary recording from the Chandos team…
The Penguin Complete Guide

A distinctive reading…
Hi-Fi News

…what a marvellous orchestra this has become in recent years… the orchestral response is first-class in all departments.
Gramophone

 

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