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CD Review

Carl Nielsen

First & Last Symphonies

  • Symphony #1in G minor, Op. 7 (1892)
  • Symphony #6 "Sinfonia semplice" (1925)
  • Andante Tranquillo e Scherzo for String Orchestra
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Douglas Bostock
Classico CLASSCD299 72m DDD

With this fourth release, Classico's admirable Nielsen symphony series comes to an end. I had waxed lyrical on the first two volumes but was rather disappointed by the third, a lackluster performance of the Fourth Symphony.

Here, Bostock is much more rigid and disciplinarian especially in the burgeoning optimism of the First Symphony. He manages to realize a cogently classical view of this work that is intrinsically married to its formal predecessors, Brahms, Dvořák and Svendsen but with an original voice of its own. The fast outer movements are well executed, and one can almost glory in the exhilarating rush of the Finale marked Allegro con fuoco. It is a reading, which is not dissimilar to Erik Tuxen's and Thomas Jensen's classic accounts and as such it is a very competitive version.

The Sixth is obviously more soul searching and deeper in its intensity. Bostock is sure-footed and very alert throughout thus keeping the symphony on course although some of its more poetic elements are occasionally discounted for at the expense of sheer technical detail. The Tempo giusto is properly annotated with some leeway with regards for the baleful concluding section. I thought the Humoresque a little lacking in humorous bite although it was sardonic enough. The Proposta Seria carries a considerable weight whilst the concluding Theme and Variations are full of the brilliance that one may expect from the RLPO. I still believe that Blomstedt is slightly more convincing in this work but overall, I would rate Bostock highly alongside Leaper and Schonwandt.

The short Andante & Scherzo is a mere curiosity item but should be included in a complete series anyway. A satisfying end to an excellent Nielsen cycle.

Copyright © 2001, Gerald Fenech