Ludolf Nielsen will predictably labour under the great shadow of his illustrious
namesake. To my knowledge his second symphony (CPO) is perhaps his strongest
suit. The big (almost 45 mins) four movement first symphony rises in Brahms
and ascends towards Wagner's Siegfried idyll. The trumpets at 9.35 play a
lovely unwinding melody but the movement, rather like the other three, is
far too long for its material. The second movement has tranquillity and is
slightly maudlin. Nice consistent mood music without any oppressively impressive
moments to break the spell. The third movement is a very countrified dance
and by itself might made a lollipop. The finale crashes in with a continuation
of the dance festival. The music is in the same league as the lesser known
symphonies of Saint-Saens, Bizet and Goldmark (whose Rustic Wedding Symphony
is a better piece than this).
With the suite we are in Glazunov territory; not so much the style but the
concentration of the ideas. There is nothing here terribly striking although
there are some striking Elgarian passages in the first movement (Castle Ruin).
In the second The Shepherd the charming music conjures a walk through the
fields with birds singing. The third uses a hymn tune to picture The Mountain
Chapel and the finale is jolly and chipper, all gurgling woodwind and village
dancing. There is a momentary touch of Tchaikovsky in this.
Charming and undemandingly picturesque music are valuable but expect to have
this on in the background rather than commanding your attention continuously.