Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download: Classicsonline


Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931)
Symphony No. 3, Op. 27, FS 60, ‘Sinfonia espansiva’ (1910-11)* [37:16]
Symphony No. 2, Op. 16, FS 29, ‘The Four Temperaments’ (1901-02) [33:55]
Inger Dam-Jensen (soprano); Poul Elming (tenor)*
Danish National Symphony Orchestra/Michael Schønwandt
rec. 25-28 May, 14 June 1999, Danish Radio Concert Hall, Copenhagen, Denmark
NAXOS 8.570738 [71:11]
Experience Classicsonline

Michael Schønwandt’s reissued recording of Nielsen’s First and Sixth symphonies (see review) impressed me so much I was eager to hear his versions of the Second and Third. This cycle is not new – it appeared on Dacapo some years ago and was well reviewed here on MusicWeb at the time (see review). Certainly Naxos have made a very good job of the transfers and at super budget prices these discs are very competitive indeed.
In my earlier review I compared Schønwandt with Jukka-Pekka Saraste and his Finnish Radio orchestra, referring to Herbert Blomstedt’s two Nielsen sets in passing. At the time I had not heard Ole Schmidt’s cycle with the London Symphony Orchestra, now available on Regis RRC 3002. The latter, a three-disc set retailing for around £14, works out at roughly £4.50 per disc, so Naxos aren’t without rivals at this price point.. As for Schmidt’s performances, I’ll touch on those later.
Curiously Naxos have reversed the order of the symphonies on this disc – they did the same with a recent Taneyev release. Since I can’t think of a good reason for this I’ll start with the earlier work. Ostensibly based on a painting in a village pub, ‘The Four Temperaments’ deals with the four bodily humours and their distinctive traits: choleric, phlegmatic, melancholic and sanguine. There are also key relationships at work in these movements but really the symphony is a series of character sketches.
The first movement (Allegro collerico) finds Schønwandt in ebullient mood, with some crisp playing from the Danish brass. There is plenty of thrust here, not to mention moments of towering grandeur. The recording is spacious and warm, the timps especially well caught. Instinctively, or so it seems, Schønwandt finds the tempo giusto, bringing tremendous urge and a marvellous sense of scale to this craggy symphony. In the last stretch the lewd brass sound splendid, the orchestra forging ahead with precision and weight.
The phlegmatic second movement has a gentle bucolic charm that is hard to resist, Schønwandt pointing up all Nielsen’s instrumental strands and colours along the way. The mournful but lyrical Andante malincolico has some lovely string playing and as always Schønwandt shapes and builds the Brucknerian climaxes very naturally indeed.
There is a real sense that conductor and players know this music well and are alive to its shifting moods. The jaunty, sanguine finale is no exception, pizzicato strings as nimble as can be, the dance-like rhythms both buoyant and propulsive. Again there is some fine string playing, hushed this time, before the music swaggers to a rousing conclusion. In music that can so easily seem rhetorical it’s good to hear a performance with such a strong, purposeful stride.
Schønwandt’s reading of the Second is much more bracing than Saraste’s and the Danish orchestra is generally more responsive and characterful. The same applies to the Third, which Schønwandt gets off to a thrilling start. Saraste sounds a tad underpowered here, those strange whooping figures less captivating than they are for Schønwandt. The recorded sound strikes a good balance between warmth and clarity, with no sign of congestion or glare.
The title ‘Espansiva’, added as an afterthought, suggests some kind of intellectual quest, the rarefied air of the Andante pastorale superbly evoked by the wordless singing of the two soloists. Inger Dam-Jensen is particularly ethereal here. The highly animated Allegretto is reminiscent of the hero’s battle with his critics in Ein Heldenleben, albeit without the oversized ego. It is a far cry from the noble and ennobling music of the previous movement and is again essayed with great polish and refinement.
The Finale: Allegro moves into a jubilant phase, complete with a series of blazing perorations. There is a palpable sense of attainment here, the sustained but reassuring passage that begins at 5:24 nicely articulated. And while triumph is in the air here it is quite without vanity; indeed, despite Nielsen’s subtext the great climax at the end of this symphony has a human dimension rather than a lofty philosophical one. The Danes bring it off superbly, making this one of the most thrilling Nielsen Thirds around.
Schønwandt’s Nielsen has an authority. a sure sense of structure and direction, that I’ve come to admire very much indeed. I wouldn’t want to be without Saraste’s vital readings, even though Schønwandt outpoints him in many respects. And one can’t ignore Ole Schmidt, whose towering performance of the Third is essential listening. A pre-digital recording from the 1970s the latter has astonishing range and power. More than that Schmidt brings out all the subsidiary strands in this music, the LSO – at their peak and playing with rare intensity. Schmidt’s Second is no less compelling, but compared with Schønwandt the honours are more evenly divided here.
With just the Fourth and Fifth to come these performances could well attain classic status. Certainly Schønwandt’s readings rival Schmidt’s, even if they don’t surpass them. Frankly I wouldn’t want to be without either.
Dan Morgan

see also review by Leslie Wright
(July 2008 Bargain of the Month)


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount




Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.