£16 post free World-wide

 


555 sonatas 9Cds mp3 files
Only £22


 


Benjamin: Written on Skin £16

Search
What's New
Previous CDs
Concerts
Jazz
Nostalgia
Composers
Resources
Announce
Labels index


Every Day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor: Rob Barnett  
Founder Len Mullenger   
 



Some items
to consider

Free classical music concerts by Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra

American Tribute
New Releases from Ongaku Records, Inc.


String Quartet 1 & 2
Pavel Hass Quartet


RECORDING OF THE MONTH
Dvorak Opera Premiere
BEST SELLER


The Best


Vanhal


Francis Pott


Mahler 9 Elder


New Lyrita Release


British Violin and Cello Concertos


Lyrita New Recording


RECORDING OF THE MONTH
Ritchie Symphony 4

Mozart concertos

Editorial Board
MusicWeb
Classical Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

REVIEW


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Pr�alable
Alto
Altus
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hall�
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get
 

alternatively
CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download: Classicsonline


Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931)
Symphony No. 4, FS 76, Op. 29 The Inextinguishable (1914-16) [36:33]
Symphony No. 5, FS 97, Op. 50 (1920-22) [38:30]
Danish National Symphony Orchestra/Michael Schnwandt
rec. Danish Radio Concert Hall, Copenhagen, 21-22 October 1999 (Symphony No. 4) and 26-27 November 1999 (Symphony No. 5); a co-production with DR/Danish National Broadcasting Corporation. DDD
previously released on Dacapo 8.224156
NAXOS 8.570739 [75:03]
Experience Classicsonline


This is the third and final volume of the Nielsen symphonies reissued by
Naxos from original Dacapo sources. It has more than adequate but less extensive notes than those accompanying the original issue. I enthusiastically welcomed Volumes One (see review) and Two (see review). With this volume, things are not quite as clear-cut. As before, the main competition for these symphonies - often considered Nielsens greatest - is the mid-price Decca reissues with Herbert Blomstedt and the San Francisco Symphony. As with the earlier volumes, Schnwandts performances with the Danes have a certain natural quality that is as beguiling as it is difficult to describe. At the same time, Blomstedts recordings have an extra dimension of excitement and drive thats hard to ignore. After listening several times to both discs of these symphonies and doing a close comparison, I come down in favor of Schnwandt for the Fourth and Blomstedt for the Fifth. Also, to a greater degree than for the earlier volumes, these two symphonies have had some legendary recordings that have stood the test of time. Here Im thinking in particular of Jean Martinons Fourth with the Chicago Symphony (see review) and Leonard Bernsteins Fifth with the New York Philharmonic (see review). Still, Blomstedt and Schnwandt - the latter primarily in the Fourth - have nothing to fear from the competition. 

Starting with the Fourth Symphony, Schnwandt obtains a fine orchestral balance that brings out both the warmth and the dynamism. Clearly part of this is due to the superb acoustics of the Danish Radio Concert Hall, but the idiomatic performance of the orchestra and the unobtrusive direction of Schnwandt are what make this sound so beautiful. This is not to imply any blandness but a real naturalness that does not draw attention to itself. And when it comes to excitement, I have never heard a better timpani duel in the last movement. Whereas Schnwandts opening Allegro is exuberant and sparkling, Blomstedts is harder hitting and more exciting if not as joyous. The difference in the recorded sound here is notable: more brilliant for Blomstedt and warmer for Schnwandt. Both are valid, I think. However, in the Poco allegretto second movement Schnwandt wins hands down with his more relaxed tempo and suppler woodwinds. Also, I find Blomstedts clarinet with what sounds like clicking keys annoying. There is not a lot of difference in the third movement between the two performances. The sound on Blomstedts recording can get a bit shrill in the upper strings at times and is a little congested when the whole orchestra is playing fortissimo. In the blazing finale, Blomstedt is dynamite with riveting timpani. So is Schnwandt, with terrific trombones cutting through at 1:12-1:17more impressive than in the same place for Blomstedt. Overall, Schnwandts brass is very impressive as is his timpani duel. Here, the clearer, cleaner sound on his recording makes the famous duel really tell. Blomstedts while very powerful is not as clear. It is fitting that Schnwandts timpanists, Ren Mathiesen and Christian Utke Schiler, get credit on the back of the disc. I wouldnt want to be without either recording of this great work, but if forced to choose, I would pick Schnwandt over Blomstedt. 

In the Fifth Symphony, though, things are reversed. Of all of Schnwandts Nielsen cycle, this is the only mildly disappointing account. Taken on its own it certainly more than satisfactory, but when compared to Blomstedt, for example, it comes off as a bit tame. It still has enough interest to recommend the disc, especially since it comes coupled with such a superlative Fourth. It is notable that Blomstedts overall timing for this work is 35:34, while Schnwandts is 38:30. The extra three minutes do make a difference and not in Schnwandts favor. In the beginning Schnwandts orchestral choirs are well delineated, and the placing of the timpani in the march is excellent. When it comes to the famous snare drum solo, though, Schnwandt sounds too tame. There is simply no question here who will win the battle between the snare drum and the rest of the orchestra. Indeed, the brass is spectacular throughout. The bassoon and clarinet solos near the end of the symphonys first part I, the Adagio, are also wonderful, as they are for Blomstedt. With Blomstedts battle, however, there is the sense of a real struggle between the drums and the rest of the orchestra. 

The same holds true for the symphonys second part. Blomstedts more flowing tempos are really a plus. In the Allegro Schnwandt is more straightforward and a little rigid, though his orchestra plays spectacularly with whooping horns, terrific lower brass, and solid timpani. While the lower brass for Blomstedt is not quite as telling, his timpani resound like gunshots, and the performance as a whole is more exciting. This is true, as well, in the following Presto where Blomstedts faster tempo is not only exciting but even frightening. Both conductors capture the tranquillo of the following movements Andante poco tranquillo extremely well and are more evenly matched here than elsewhere in the symphony. The symphonys ending with its burst of glory in the brass is well captured in both recordings, but again Blomstedt is just that much more blazing. As in the earlier symphony, Schnwandts soloists - here Niels Thomsen, clarinet and Tom Nybye, snare drum - receive credit on the back of the disc case. As far as the clarinet solos are concerned, this is truly deserved and both performances are well matched. However, as I mentioned earlier, Blomstedts snare drummer is superior to Schnwandts, at least as heard on the recordings. 

The bottom line: both recordings are recommended, especially Schnwandts for the Fourth and Blomstedts for the Fifth. Both are budget priced. If, however, you can choose only one, Id go with Blomstedt s Double Decca where you get superb performances of the last three symphonies and the Little Suite for Strings and Hymnus Amoris thrown in for good measure. Nevertheless, if you are collecting the Schnwandt series, do not hesitate.

Leslie Wright



 

 
 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools




Return to Review Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.