Nielsen Orchestral Works

About as close to the Nielsen ideal as you ever hope to hear

Author: 
David Fanning
Nielsen Orchestral WorksNielsen Orchestral Works

Nielsen Orchestral Works – Dausgaard

  • Maskarade, Overture
  • Maskarade, Dance of the Cockerels
  • Master Oluf Rides, 'Hr. Oluf han Rider', Prelude
  • Snefrid
  • Saul and David, Prelude
  • Rhapsody Overture: an imaginary trip to the Faroe Islands
  • Willemoes, Prelude, Act 3
  • Pan and Syrinx
  • Amor and the Poet, 'Amor og Digteren', Overture
  • Helios

This is outstanding, and unmissable for Nielsen collectors – and not only for the less familiar items, all of which have been recorded before (not badly, either). The Danish Radio Symphony must have played the Saul and David and Maskarade excerpts and the Helios Overture more times than they can count. But for Dausgaard they relish every detail, without ever sounding self-conscious. To call the balance in the “Cockerels’ Dance” felicitous would be an understatement; it is revelatory. Nor is affectionate an adequate word for Dausgaard’s interpretations of all the music on this disc; there is love here, and a sense of crusading mission.

I could sing the praises of the Rhapsody Overture and Pan and Syrinx just as extravagantly. And I would as happily wax lyrical over the theatre music excerpts, all of which lead to or from the world of Nielsen’s symphonies. Given playing of such finesse and bite (one virtually takes idiomatic understanding for granted) they all feel like gems in their own right. I could hug the oboist for his/her contributions to the Snefrid excerpts.

I suppose I’m not the easiest listener to please when it comes to Nielsen recordings. But this is the kind of issue that reminds me why. It comes about as close to the ideal as I ever hope to hear, and it eclipses almost all others in its field. Dacapo’s recording quality is top-drawer, and there is an exemplary essay from Jørgen I Jensen. Disc of the year for me so far, then. And if it is still so at the end of 2007, I won’t be surprised.

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