Reissue of exubrant performances that lead the pack among bu
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 11/05/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Carl Nielsen had a brief heyday outside Denmark in the Sixties when Leonard Bernstein made a landmark recording of Sym. #3 'Espansiva.' The technical abilities of the Royal Danish Orch. that he conducted (a more raw version of the orchestra heard here) were limited, but Bernstein was thrilling and big-hearted. In this reissue of a well received symphony cycle from 1999-2001, Schonwandt takes down the emotions and scales back the ambition, but he leads a convincing performance with plenty of high energy. This is a budget front runner, far more passioante than Herbert Blomstedt in either of his accounts on EMI and Decca. The recording is clear and detailed; te orchestra plays very well. The rapt vocalises in the pastoral second movement are kept at a distance and are overshadowed by the orchstra -- soloists Dam-Jensen and Poul Elming make a nice impresison but little more.
I've never been fully convinced by Sym. #2 "The Four Temperaments," feeling that mature Nielsen takes off with the "Espansiva." Schonwandt avoids the rambunctious roughness that others have fallen into, while maintaining the right energy level in the first movement. He never fails to keep the line moving in all four movements, and although Nielsen's ambitions exceeded his symphonic abilities at this point, this is a committed performance, one of the best in the catalog at any price.
In all, this is a gem among budget Nielsen recordings, even if the Third doesn't erase memories of Bernstein at his most joyous."