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Nielsen 6th, the first movement, is for me the ultimate in orchestral music. Iit has everything. You can't go too far wrong with Brydon Thomson here. The Proposta Seria is not far behind.This music is totally original.
I like Blomstedt with the San Fransisco Phil for the fifth, of which I know every note. I never listen to the fourth.
ON a related topic, I often wonder what Nielsen might have written after the clarinet concerto, given that he had committed to compose five for the Copenhagen Wind Quintet. A horn concerto, for sure. But Nielsen seemed not to favour the oboe, and often used bassoons in duet.
I believe he would have written a triple concerto for two bassoons and oboe and left it at that. If only....
Andrew, I think the disc you are thinking of is the EMI reissue of Rattle's 1984 CBSO recording of Nielsen 4 and Pan and Syrinx (originally issued on their own as a very short playing time CD) which is coupled with his 1981 Philharmonia recording of Sibelius 5 (which many critics rated as better than his later CBSO recording of the same work which was part of his complete Sibelius cycle)
Although Rattle conducted a complete Nielsen symphony cycle in Birmingham in autumn 1992 (3 concerts - each with 2 symphonies sandwiching a Mahler song cycle with Olaf Bar - I was there!) he has not, as far as I know, recorded any of the symphonies other than No 4. More recently he has, of course, recorded the Flute and Clarinet Concertos with Emmanuel Pahud and Sabine Meyer and the Berlin Philharmonic.
To complete the CBSO connection, I see that BIS are about to issue (release date 3rd February) the first CD (coupling Nos 4 & 5!) in what they say will be a full cycle with Sakari Oramo and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic.. Oramo conducted a number of Nielsen symphonies during his time with the CBSO - including part of a cycle 'shared' with the Halle and played in both Birmingham and Manchester in early 2009.
Thanks for the clarification Alan, I'm sure you're right but don't have the disc to hand. Either way I remember not thinking much of it.
I do like his recording of the flute concerto, though there's not too much opportunity for a conductor to stamp him or herself on that piece.
How were the early symphonies in Birmingham? I heard the CBSO play the Third in 2011 and was impressed (Robert Spano). That's the piece I reckon Rattle would shine in, and i say it fully believing that it's Nielsen's pivotal symphony and that it needs so much heart and intelligence and some sense of the sound/construction tradition from Beethoven.
I heard Oramo's Nielsen 4 with the Royal Stockholm PO at the 2011 Proms and it was pretty good, so am hoping for good things from the BIS cycle but Oramo is SO variable on record...
Also, as Alan mentioned the forthcoming Oramo cycle, do watch out for the John Storgards cycle starting recording with the BBC Philharmonic in Manchester soon (Chandos).
At the risk of duplicating the "Who are the best Sibelius conductors right now" elsewhere on the forum, Storgards has a very good track record in Nielsen (I've heard him with the Helsinki PO and he's exceptionally precise with all the little inner arguments) and this could be a good cycle if Storgards gets his 'big-boned' head out for the Second and Third and clarifies the Fifth and Sixth as mentioned.
In addition to Sakari Oramo's forthcoming recorded Nielsen cycle on BIS with the Royal Stockholm Orchestra, it has just been announced that he will also be conducting a complete cycle with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican during the 2014-15 season. Spread over the whole season, starting in Oct 2014 and finishing in May 2015, there will be six concerts - each containing only one Nielsen symphony together with other music - and the symphonies will appear in numerical order.
Blomsted may be an acquired habit but is much overrated in Nielsen. All the notes are there in his performances but he lacks spiritually what others show in abundance. If you're new to this repertoire I'd suggest you start with Ole Shmidt (complete symphonies) or the great Myung-Whun Chung.
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