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CD: Crotchet

Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931)
Symphony No.3 ‘Sinfonia Espansiva’ op.27 [33:51]
Ruth Güldbæk (soprano); Eric Sjøberg (baritone)
Danish State Radio Symphony Orchestra/John Frandsen
rec. 3-5 March 1955. ADD
Nielsen Symphony No.6 ‘Sinfonia Semplice’ [32:35]
Danish State Radio Symphony Orchestra/Thomas Jensen
rec. Concert Hall of Danish Radio, Copenhagen, 17-19 June 1952. ADD
Nielsen Moderen (The Mother) - incidental music to Helge Rode’s play [6:56]
Danish State Radio Symphony Orchestra/Emil Reesen
rec. Concert Hall of Danish Radio, Copenhagen, 5 November 1946. ADD
DUTTON CDBP9796 [62:12]

Experience Classicsonline

Since its earliest days Dutton have had a place for classic Nielsen.. This continues the line with the work of three great Nielsen conductors: John Frandsen (1918-1996), Thomas Jensen (1898-1963) and Emil Reesen (1887-1964). Between 1946 and1952 all six Nielsen symphonies were recorded for the first time by Tuxen (3, 5), Jensen (1, 2, 6) and Grøndahl (4) variously on 78s from EMI, Decca, Polyphon and Tono.

The twofold core of this set is the 4 disc Tono set of Jensen's reading of No. 6 and the Decca Frandsen reading of No.3. It will be evident that the Frandsen Third is second generation Nielsen; the first for that symphony being Tuxen.

Reesen may not have been a big name but he was one of the founders of the Danish State Radio Symphony Orchestra and was also well respected outside Denmark. He conducted the Berlin Phil on several occasions.

Nielsen's Sixth is the least accessible of the symphonies. It is, in that sense, equivalent to a very different work, Sibelius's gaunt Fourth. Yet Jensen draws its sheer delight in intricacy and there is some joyously precise playing from the strings. Mono or not - and everything here is mono analogue - this for me brings out the best in this enigmatic work. It now joins the Ormandy Sixth as a luminous and lucid exposition of the dark and arcane sheep of the Nielsen flock.

Frandsen's Third is powerful with mordant accentuation of the rhythmic impacts in the first movement and an idyllically understated pastoral warmth. Good to see the name of Ruth Güldbæk as soprano in the Andante Pastorale. She was still in good voice a decade later when she took the same role in Bernstein's glorious Espansiva - available on Sony. The little prelude and march from the incidental music to Helge Rode's play The mother is well worth having and praise to Dutton for thinking to include this intriguing and rare little filler when other labels might have been tempted to stop with the two symphonies.

The cover of the booklet uses a design from the original LP issue.

The completely satisfying note is by Lyndon Jenkins.

Rob Barnett





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