is the first volume in Dacapo’s Carl Nielsen chamber music series.
Performed by two chamber ensembles the nine work programme calls
for a variety of instruments with the feature score undoubtedly
the Wind Quintet of 1922. These were recorded in Copenhagen in 2007 with the exception of the Piano Trio and
the Wind Quintet – each previously released on this label.
The sound quality is decent enough combined with rather workaday
and incomplete booklet notes.
by the Trio Ondine the opening score is the three movement Piano
Trio. Strangely we are not told anything about this in the
booklet notes. By my reckoning Nielsen was only eighteen when
he wrote it and it could easily have come from a bygone age,
strongly evocative of a Mozartian and Mendelssohnian sound-world.
The Trio Ondine are thoroughly at home with the sweet and simple,
unnamed opening movement with its attractive main theme setting
the scene for a summery excursion into green and pleasant countryside.
The Andante is dance-like, oozing with melody and the
appealing Finale, marked Allegro grazioso is notable
for the violin playing of Erik Heide.
double-bass player Ludvig Hegner of the Royal Danish Orchestra
would regularly undertake a summer tour of the Danish provinces
playing chamber music with an ensemble formed by fellow orchestra
members. Hegner had included the Beethoven Septet in
his programme and requested from Nielsen a short score for strings
and wind. Consequently in 1914 Nielsen provided a single movement
quintet titled the Serenata in vano for clarinet, bassoon,
French horn, cello and double bass. In this persuasive performance
one wonders why this attractive score wasn’t extended into a
full-blown serenade. Especially conspicuous is the darker-hued
central Poco adagio section of an almost sinister quality.
marvellous Wind Quintet was composed in 1922 and scored
for, flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, and bassoon. Given
a dedication to the members of the Copenhagen Wind Quintet,
who gave the première, the score has secured a regular place
in the wind chamber repertoire, although I personally consider
many of its qualities to be rather overestimated.
in four movements the amiable Quintet opens with a playful
Allegro ben moderato with elements of shyness that gradually
gain confidence. I experienced the Menuetto as a confusing
movement that seems to wander aimlessly whilst the contrasting
Praeludium is robust, dark and foreboding. The score
concludes with a extended Tema con variazioni with a
hymn-like opening. The episode from 1:40-3:24 is mischievous and playful and from 3:26-4:08
clarinet cries dominate the proceedings. At 6:37-8:14 a French horn sounds a prominent reveille-like episode;
between 8:15-9:13, evocations of freshness and of open spaces, followed
briskly at 9:14-10:12 by music of playful frolics. To conclude the hymn-like
opening of the movement returns at 10:17.
Throughout the Wind Quintet we can enjoy playing of warmth
and lyricism, although at times one was left requiring a touch
more rhythm and vigour.
do not currently have a version of the Wind Quintet in
my collection. However, among the most popular versions in the
catalogues appear to be performances from the Oslo Wind Ensemble
on Naxos 8.553050 and from the Frosunda Wind Quintet on BIS CD
composed his single movement Fantasy Piece for clarinet
and piano in G minor around 1881 which makes the work the earliest
on the disc. The score was dedicated to a ‘M. Hansen’ about
which little is known. Possibly he was a regimental musician
from Odense. One experiences the score as delightful, relatively
undemanding and highly melodic. It is performed here by clarinettist
Søren Elbo who displays a beguiling tone and he is sensitively
accompanied by pianist Jens Elvekjær.
Composed in 1889 the Two Fantasy Pieces for oboe and
piano are early works from Nielsen’s formal composing career.
The oboist of the Royal Danish Orchestra Olivo Krause is the
dedicatee. Opening the work is a lyrical Romanze with
a hard edge and an enchanting mellow centre. The extrovert Humoresque
is rhythmic and urgent with commanding playing from the
duo of Max Artved and Jens Elvekjær.
short single movement Canto serioso for French horn and
piano was composed in 1913. Intended as an audition piece for
a position at the Royal Danish Orchestra this inconsequential
score is quite unremarkable. Henning Hansen and Jens Elvekjær
play with enthusiasm but despite their finest endeavours they
cannot make the score better than it is.
final work comprises three short scenes from Nielsen’s incidental
music to Helge Rode’s 1920 Royal Theatre play 'Moderen'
(The Mother). The opening piece is Tågen letter
(The fog is lifting), a tender love song for flute and
harp. Bucolic revelry abounds in the central piece Børnene
leger for flute solo. The sequence concludes with Tro
og Håb spiller for flute and viola who make strange bed-fellows.
Both instruments appear to be talking but taking little notice
of each other. The spontaneous sounding flautist Anna Dina Schick
is on remarkable form displaying an appealing tone quality.
For some reason the Dacapo label only provide an English translation
for the title of the opening work Tågen letter but not
for the other two pieces.