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Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931)
Springtime in Fünen (Fynsk Forår) Op. 42 (1921)
Suite from Aladdin (1920)
Three Motets Op. 55 (1929) *
The University Little Choir 'Little Muko'/Henrik Metz
The University Little Choir 'Little Muko'/Mogens Wøldike *
Inga Nielsen (sop)
Kim Von Binzer (ten)
Jørgen Klint (bass)
St Klemens School Children's Choir/Kirsten Møller Jensen
Katrine Andersen (girl solo)
Signe Yde-Andersen (boy solo)
Odense Symphony Orchestra/Tamás Vetö
rec. 1983-86 DDD
REGIS RRC 1134 [59.29]


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This Regis CD continues what we have now come to recognise as a Nielsen tradition. This began with isolated discs of the Ole Schmidt Nielsen symphony recordings. These are, despite their analogue origins, very distinguished and highly competitive even in the face of much more modern digital cycles from Blomstedt (Decca rather than EMI Classics), Schønwandt and Bostock. Then came Regisís boxed set of all six symphonies. Also licensed in part from the lamented Unicorn stable the present disc should come as no spectacular surprise. It has even prompted hopes that Regis will be liberating the operas Saul and David and Maskarade to provide a stout assault on the Decca and Chandos equivalents. The fact that Regis is a bargain basement line makes its sovereign attractions even more compelling. Incidentally this does not, on this occasion, mean that corners have been cut. Full notes, in English only, are provided and the texts are in the original Danish with English translation.

To the matter in hand. Vetö and the Odense Orchestra turn in lively performances, extremely well recorded. They do not sound refined or sophisticated and if they had the music would not have been so persuasive. The sense of reed pipes coarsely blown, of ocean breezes and dazzling choppy coastal waters enlivens this music especially Fynsk Forår. Here innocence and exhilaration are the keynotes. This is helped by the use of child singers. The isle of Fyn was where Nielsen grew up. Its pastoral and marine setting Ė similar to the Scottish West Coast machair Ė are evoked in this series of vocal/orchestral panels. This was always a good performance and nothing has changed since it was first issued in the 1970s. The adult singers are a shade too mature but nothing unduly damaging. Interestingly the piece starts with the clearest echoes of the opening of Nielsenís Fifth Symphony. The Aladdin Suite extracts movements from the complete music to a theatrical production of the play by Oehlenschläger. You may well known these pieces from the BIS recording by Myung Whun Chung (a doughty Nielsen conductor as we know from his partial symphonic cycle from BIS) or from the old Music For Pleasure LP which had as the main item Nielsenís Violin Concerto played by Menuhin. On that LP Svend Felumb was the conductor. The performances are lively and full of oriental colour. This is not as sultry as Deliusís for Fleckerís Hassan but certainly warmer than we may be accustomed to from Nielsen unless we know his overture Helios. If you would like to have the complete Aladdin music there is a Chandos CD where the Royal Stockholm Orchestra is conducted by Gennadi Rozhdestvensky. As a matter of interest Vetö and the Odense orchestra have also recorded a separate disc of Nielsenís other incidental music on the Kontrapunkt label. Rounding out this disc there are three rather sober motets and directed by the veteran Nielsen pupil Mogens Wøldike. Wøldike is also the conductor of the choral work Søvnen and Hymnus Amoris on an EMI classics Double Forte that also includes Blomstedtís 1974/5 EMI/DRSO recordings of Symphonies 5 and 6. The motets here are sung with fervour but these are not works to approach in the expectation of passionate engagement. The vocal impress is from Palestrina rather than Tallis.

Rob Barnett

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