They're still talking about Bernstein's "Espansiva" in Denmark, and with good reason. While better known for his Mahler, Bernstein's advocacy of Nielsen arguably achieved just as much, alerting music lovers beyond Denmark of a composer of international stature. Not all of Bernstein's Nielsen was equally good. His Second and Fourth symphonies are nowhere near as fine as these two, which are stunning. The "Espansiva" has all of the openhearted warmth that Nielsen requires. Bernstein's tempo in the finale is a touch slow, but grand and celebratory. The sonics were good for their day, and they still sound well.
Bernstein's reading of the Fifth is also magnificent. For sheer excitement it has never beenRead more surpassed, particularly in the second movement, which is wildly uninhibited and urgent. In the first movement, outstanding work from the solo clarinet meets a pretty terrifying snare drum cadenza at the climax. Only the sonics, which relegate the timpani to the rear of--somewhere--let the show down a bit, but the drive and communicativeness of the music-making ultimately win the day. This is a great recording, plain and simple, now available "on demand" from Arkivmusic.com.
Symphony no 3, Op. 27 "Sinfonia espansiva"by Carl Nielsen Performer:
Ruth Guldbaek (Soprano),
Niels Moller (Tenor)
Royal Danish Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1910-1911; Denmark Date of Recording: 05/1965 Venue: Odd Fellow Palace, Copenhagen, Denmark Length: 37 Minutes 34 Secs.
Symphony no 5, Op. 50by Carl Nielsen Conductor:
New York Philharmonic
Period: 20th Century Written: 1921-1922; Denmark Date of Recording: 04/1962 Venue: Manhattan Center, New York City Length: 33 Minutes 13 Secs.
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
DID NIELSEN LIVE NEAR A CHICKEN FARM?October 2, 2014By Zita Carno (Tampa, FL)See All My Reviews"I have listened to all of Nielsen's symphonies (except the 6th), and one thing has always struck me---the barnyard sounds in one or another movement. I think Nielsen lived near a chicken farm, and he incorporated various hens cackling and roosters crowing, much to my delight and amusement.In fact, in his theater work "Maskarade" he has a rooster dance! In any event, I have an earlier recording of the 3rd and 5th symphonies and continue to enjoy them. And speaking of the 5th symphony---there's one performance I wish had been recorded. One evening I attended a concert at Carnegie Hall with the Detroit Symphony conducted by Sixten Ehrling (remember him?), and their performance of Nielsen's 5th was nothing short of electrifying. He had stolen a percussionist from the Metropolitan Opera, and from the first explosive entrance of the snaredrum in the first movement he drove that performance to an entirely new level. I was on the edge of my seat, and I have never forgotten this. Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic come very close to this...Here's an interesting observation. I was just listening to what has to be an older recording, no longer available---the 5th Symphony with Jascha Horenstein conducting the New Philharmonia on my Classical Masterpieces channel on the TV. What's interesting is that his tempi are very close to Bernstein's (although the second movement could be a touch faster). But what was missing was the sheer explosiveness of the percussion! Oh, the snare drum was loud and soft in the proper places, but the explosiveness wasn't there---it sounded as if he were just going through the motions. I kept thinking back to the Detroit Symphony performance I had heard years ago, with Ehrling---how I wish they had recorded it then. Especially in the second half of the first movement, where the drums kept intruding and finally just went off on their own---what I think the percussionist needs there is more than a touch of Art Blakey or Elvin Jones, that jazz improvisation quality, and the New Philharmonic's drummer didn't have that. I think the N.Y. Philharmonic percussionist has that. I'll have to listen to it again, the Philharmonic with Bernstein. (And he's good with Nielsen.)"Report Abuse