Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931)

Violin Concerto (1911) [36.53]
Clarinet Concerto (1928) [24.07]
Little Suite (1888) [13.53]
Henrik Hannisdal (violin)
Kullervo Kojo (clarinet)
Tim Ferchen (percussion)
Norwegian Radio Orchestra/Terje Mikkelsen (violin concerto); Ari Rasilainen (suite)
Finnish Radio SO/Jukka Pekka-Saraste (clarinet concerto)
rec 1993-1998 Finlandia Records DDD
WARNER APEX 0927-48311-2 [77.07]


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The Apex bargain basement line continues to reissue from the splendid Warner family coffers at a fantastic pace. Apex is known for its no frills designs and budget notes (still more extensive than others and perfectly adequate in this case.)

These Finlandia-derived tapes from the 1990s sound very clean indeed and extremely natural. This unfussy and unadorned pristine quality goes well with Nielsen and especially with the nature reveries and rustic chivalry of the Violin Concerto. The two strands hold each other in check. Too much reverie and the languor becomes soporific. Too much exuberance and the results can be virtuosic but vacuous. If you seek delicate tenderness in your Nielsen then Hannisdal and Mikkelsen are the men for you. The orchestral contribution is handled with loving kindness. There are moments, as in the protestations of the strings in the finale, where the lack of refinement in the violins shows through but in general this is a petal-strong delight fully aware that the gestures are small but affecting. There is no call to try to play this work as if it were a hyper-romantic brute.

The Suite is another delicate spray of flowers. Its mood fits in well with the Sibelius's Rakastava and Valse Triste. Rasilainen must have had a spring in his step on the day he went into the recording studio for this has caught on infectiously with the players. This is the best version I have heard of the Suite - it is not a work widely recorded.

The Clarinet Concerto is taken in rather more four-square and no-nonsense fashion - more so than the Violin Concerto. I preferred the greater immediacy and more intimate acoustic of this Warner to the BIS (Ole Schill). It is one of Nielsen's most oblique and opaque works comparable with the Sixth Symphony. Kullervo Kojo is an adroit and imaginative soloist attentive to the work's defiance as well as its reticence.

This is a very likeable disc with good performances all round. Nielsenites will find it provocative and inspirational. Its draw lies in the Violin Concerto and a superbly sprung Suite.

Rob Barnett

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