Nielsen Wind and Piano Works

New findings illuminate Nielsen’s sunny woodwind masterpiece

Author: 
David Fanning

Nielsen Wind and Piano Works

  • Quintet
  • Seranata in vano
  • Fantasy Piece
  • (2) Fantasy Pieces
  • Canto serioso
  • Fantasy Pieces, (The) Fog is Lifting (fl & pf)
  • Fantasy Pieces, (The) Children are Playing (solo fl)
  • (3) Pieces
  • Allegretto

Earlier this year the Carl Nielsen Edition concluded its 17-year task of publishing all Nielsen’s completed works, its scores having already become standard for new recordings of the symphonies, piano works and others. In the course of their preparations, the New London Chamber Ensemble became aware of the new critical edition of the Wind Quintet, and their recording reflects their careful assessment of its findings. Not only that, but they have added three short tracks to show alternative readings from Nielsen’s manuscript.

That in itself would not be a major selling-point for any but the most devoted specialist. And it’s perfectly obvious that even the most conscientious preparation may not necessarily engender convincing music-making. Happily, in this instance all the players’ instincts are in the right place for the genial conversation and graceful give-and-take of this sunniest of Nielsen’s masterpieces; and more than most ensembles they bring to vivid life the character studies of the variations finale. In the remaining chamber pieces I can think of one or two recordings that have brought a fraction more tonal allure to bear, or a fraction more sympathetic rubato. On the other hand, Michael Dussek fully justifies the apparently anomalous inclusion of the late Three Piano Pieces with a reading whose intelligence and empathy yield to no rivals. With first-rate recording quality and documentation including half a dozen facsimiles from the manuscript score of the Quintet, the overall package is more than recommendable.

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