One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,514 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider


paid for


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

FOGHORN Classics

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


ARTICLE Plain text for smartphones & printers

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat



Recordings of the Month


From Ocean’s Floor


Conner Riddle Songs

Rodzinski Sibelius

Of Innocence and Experience


Symphonies 1, 2, 3

Even Chili Peppers Can't Save Danish Orchestra
by Brian Reinhart

On January 1, 2015, the Danish National Chamber Orchestra will shut down. Its last concert is scheduled for November 21.
The Danish government’s cultural arm is making a series of budget cuts and priority changes, and over the summer chose to shut down the chamber orchestra, which employs 42 musicians. Conductor dm Fischer, after leading a complete recording series of the Haydn symphonies, came to Denmark and advocated a fleet, exciting, edgy view of classical-era repertoire.
In this way, the Danish National Chamber Orchestra were pioneers. Along with Thomas Dausgaard’s Swedish Chamber Orchestra, and Charles Mackerras’s Scottish Chamber Orchestra, they rewrote our expectations for fifty years of music: that Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, and Schubert can be performed by a compromise ensemble. Modern instruments, not period, with modern strings, bows, reeds, and techniques. But the smaller orchestras yielded greater clarity, sharpness, and precision. Hard-stick timpani led an aggressive attack. Fast tempos woke up the silly old idea that Mozart is for softies. These conductors’ approaches, in this music, were sort of the anti-Marriner, or anti-Karajan: you shouldn’t feel relaxed by Mozart. You shouldn’t feel like you’re in church. You should feel awakened. Invigorated. Excited.
I’ve written about that excellent Mozart cycle before, as has my colleague Michael Greenhalgh (twice). But the Danish National Chamber Orchestra did a great deal more. They advocated music by living composers like Anders Koppel and Per Nrgrd. Under another name, the Danish Radio Sinfonietta, they recorded a major milestone series of great works by Vagn Holmboe (Sinfonias I-IV ~~ Chamber concertos v1 ~~ Chamber concertos v2 ~~ Concertos & Chamber works). Most recently, in an attempt to drum up publicity for their demise, the players each consumed, whole, “the world’s hottest chili peppers” and then attempted to perform music. (The players were given a mixture of ghost chilis, Carolina Reapers, and Trinidad moruga scorpion peppers.) The resulting YouTube video is a marvel: watch as the woodwind and brass players, especially, wince in agony, sweat, cry—and play right through it.
People often say closings like this orchestra’s are “tragic”. That’s not true: this was not a tragedy but a decision. A frustrating, misguided, disappointing decision. A sign that, for all the peril American orchestras face because of their reliance on private financing, European orchestras may not be much safer depending on the public. La Petite Bande recently faced extinction too, and probably will face extinction again. No amount of artistic heritage can protect today’s orchestras from being deemed liabilities.
If it is any consolation, the Danish National Chamber Orchestra have one last trick up their sleeves. This April they will release, on Dacapo and under dm Fischer, a complete cycle of the Beethoven symphonies. Recordings have been taking place since 2012. I hope that the live Ninth on November 21, the orchestra’s last performance before its dissolution, will be issued in the box set. A live recording of the final concert would be a fitting, moving tribute to over 75 years of service.
Brian Reinhart