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Orchestral Works Volume 3

Symphony no 4 (The Inextinguishable) op 29
Incidental music to Cupid and the Poet
Genre Picture
, Ariel's Song and Christmas at Home (tenor & orchestra)
Symphonic Rhapsody

Jan Lund (tenor)
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Douglas Bostock
Recorded in Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, August 2000
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Douglas Bostock continues his cycle of the Nielsen symphonies with the RLPO with another superb performance - this time, the Inextinguishable (of which more anon). First, however, this disc contains one particularly intriguing 'filler' - the Symphonic Rhapsody. Written in 1888 this was the only movement of a projected first symphony (Nielsen's first symphony proper was completed in 1892). It was performed in 1893, but never again in the composer's lifetime, and this is its first recording. I can't help wondering if when asked to listen to it 'blind' anyone could identify the composer. There are one or two slight hints of Nielsen's mature style, but not the unpredictability of phrase and mood which were to become his trademarks. For all that, it's an agreeable piece, well worth reviving.

Cupid and the Poet is late Nielsen - an orchestral suite from incidental music he wrote in 1930 for a play which celebrated the 125th anniversary of the birth of Hans Christian Andersen. The play centres on the poet's unrequited love for the famous singer Jenny Lind. The suite consists of a five-minute overture and four other very brief numbers. No doubt as incidental music it was of value, but it hardly stands up as a pure concert piece. Of the three songs which are included, Christmas at Home is a real curiosity - one never imagined Nielsen capable of writing a potboiler, but that's exactly what the piece is, dashed off in 1923 when the composer was strapped for cash. In effect it's a hymn of six straight verses, with no attempt at variation even in the last verse.

In the Inextinguishable Bostock again reveals his sure feel for Nielsen's idiom. This is music cast in a heroic mould, and particularly in the surging energy of the first movement and the ferocious battle of the timpanists in the finale, he draws playing from the members of the RLPO of great warmth and depth.

Highly recommended. I can't wait for Bostock's account of Nielsen's Fifth!

Adrian Smith

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