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Nielsen: Complete Symphonies / Kuchar, Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra


Release Date: 09/25/2012 
Label:  Brilliant Classics   Catalog #: 94419  
Composer:  Carl Nielsen
Conductor:  Theodore Kuchar
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Janácek Philharmonic OrchestraOstrava Janácek Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Theodore Kuchar leads what is without question the most exciting complete Nielsen symphony cycle available, making this the set to get for Nielsen newcomers. He doesn't put a foot wrong in any of these symphonies, and it's rather amazing to hear how well he handles passages where so many conductors come to grief. For example, the finale of the Second Symphony has tremendous physicality at an aptly swift tempo. So often it's taken way too slowly. Kuchar gets all the tempo relationships right in the tricky finale of the Fourth as well, and he drives the Fifth home with such exultant power that for once that second movement doesn't sound like an anticlimax, coming as it does after perhaps the most inspired 20 minutes of music that Nielsen ever Read more penned. Kuchar also isn't at all fazed by the weirdness of the Sixth, its concluding Theme and Variations in particular. Here's a case where simply playing what's written as characterfully as possible really does produce the desired wacky effect far better than any sort of poking and prodding. You simply won't hear a finer performance anywhere. Kuchar is equally sensitive to Nielsen's ear for color--those special moments of startling sonic innovation. I'm thinking of the trumpet tremolos before the grand waltz in the Espansiva's opening movement, or the timpani roll with brushes in the slow movement of the Second.

However, despite the all-around interpretive excellence, it has to be admitted that the orchestra is not quite in the first class, at least as compared to those of San Francisco (Blomstedt/Decca) or Denmark (Schonwandt/dacapo). Don't get me wrong: they play spectacularly well, all things considered. The strings take Nielsen's ungrateful passagework in stride, rhythms are firm, and the ensemble is excellently balanced. Tricky episodes such as the tuba and woodwind exchanges in the finale of the Fifth come off splendidly. Still, there's a certain want of sheer amplitude in the biggest climaxes, such as the conclusion of the Fourth Symphony (after a fabulous timpani duel), or the snare drum-led battle in the first movement of the Fifth. The truth is, even here Kuchar is as good or better than most of the competition, but by the same token, and however minor this point is in the grand scheme of things, the above observations are real and something that Nielsen fans are likely to notice.

This doesn't mean you should hesitate for a minute in buying this inexpensive set, which also is very naturally and vibrantly recorded. What it does mean is that this joins the two other cycles just mentioned (and Rozhdestvensky's as well on Chandos) among the top picks, rather than sweeping the board. And if I sound just a touch frustrated, it's only because Kuchar's conducting really does sweep the board. Given a choice of who I would likely listen to in this music on any given day, Kuchar is the man, and I suspect that you'll agree. He's that good.
-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
reviewing the original release of this title, Brilliant 92885 Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Symphony no 1 in G minor, Op. 7 by Carl Nielsen
Conductor:  Theodore Kuchar
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Janácek Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1890-1892; Denmark 
2. Symphony no 2 in B minor, Op. 16 "The Four Temperaments" by Carl Nielsen
Conductor:  Theodore Kuchar
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Janácek Philharmonic Orchestra,  Ostrava Janácek Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1901-1902; Denmark 
3. Symphony no 3, Op. 27 "Sinfonia espansiva" by Carl Nielsen
Conductor:  Theodore Kuchar
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Janácek Philharmonic Orchestra,  Ostrava Janácek Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1910-1911; Denmark 
4. Symphony no 4, Op. 29 "Inextinguishable" by Carl Nielsen
Conductor:  Theodore Kuchar
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Janácek Philharmonic Orchestra,  Ostrava Janácek Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1916; Denmark 
5. Symphony no 5, Op. 50 by Carl Nielsen
Conductor:  Theodore Kuchar
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Janácek Philharmonic Orchestra,  Ostrava Janácek Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1921-1922; Denmark 
6. Symphony no 6, FS 116 "Sinfonia semplice" by Carl Nielsen
Conductor:  Theodore Kuchar
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Janácek Philharmonic Orchestra,  Ostrava Janácek Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924-1925; Denmark 

Sound Samples

Symphony No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 7, FS 16: I. Allegro orgoglioso
Symphony No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 7, FS 16: II. Andante
Symphony No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 7, FS 16: III. Allegro comodo
Symphony No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 7, FS 16: IV. Finale: Allegro con fuoco
Symphony No. 2, Op. 16, FS 29, "The 4 Temperaments": I. Allegro collerico
Symphony No. 2, Op. 16, FS 29, "The 4 Temperaments": II. Allegro comodo e flemmatico
Symphony No. 2, Op. 16, FS 29, "The 4 Temperaments": III. Andante malincolico
Symphony No. 2, Op. 16, FS 29, "The 4 Temperaments": IV. Allegro sanguineo
Symphony No. 3, Op. 27, FS 60, "Sinfonia espansiva": I. Allegro espansivo
Symphony No. 3, Op. 27, FS 60, "Sinfonia espansiva": II. Andante pastorale
Symphony No. 3, Op. 27, FS 60, "Sinfonia espansiva": III. Allegretto un poco
Symphony No. 3, Op. 27, FS 60, "Sinfonia espansiva": IV. Finale: Allegro
Symphony No. 4, Op. 29, FS 76, "The Inextinguishable": I. Allegro
Symphony No. 4, Op. 29, FS 76, "The Inextinguishable": II. Poco allegretto
Symphony No. 4, Op. 29, FS 76, "The Inextinguishable": III. Poco adagio quasi andante
Symphony No. 4, Op. 29, FS 76, "The Inextinguishable": IV. Allegro
Symphony No. 5, Op. 50, FS 97: I. Tempo giusto
Symphony No. 5, Op. 50, FS 97: II. Allegro
Symphony No. 6, FS 116, "Sinfonia semplice": I. Tempo giusto
Symphony No. 6, FS 116, "Sinfonia semplice": II. Humoreske: Allegretto
Symphony No. 6, FS 116, "Sinfonia semplice": III. Proposta seria: Adagio
Symphony No. 6, FS 116, "Sinfonia semplice": IV. Tema con variazioni

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 Outstanding Cycle April 20, 2013 By Martin B. (Lower Hutt, Wellington) See All My Reviews "This is my fifth complete set of Nielsen symphonies and it is absolutely outstanding. Only some Danish mono recordings of the 1950s can beat them for "feel", but the sound and performances of all these works is excellent. For anyone new to Nielsen, this is the ideal starting point." Report Abuse
 Definitive Nielsen Symphonies? November 29, 2012 By David Stein (New York, NY) See All My Reviews "I've been an enthusiastic collector of recordings of the music of Carl Nielsen, and especially the six symphonies, for 40 years, since back when the only ones available were a few mono LPs from Denmark. I have numerous performances of each of them, and there have been a lot of good to great ones. Hitherto my favorite conductors for the cycle were Herbert Blomstedt and Myung Wha-Chung, with exceptional single recordings by Sixten Ehrling (#3), Jascha Horenstein (#5), and a few others. Now I have to add Theodore Kuchar -- and I'd put him at the top of the list. I'm not a musical scholar, so this is just a fan's opinion. Nonetheless, I haven't found any other recordings of these marvelous works as consistently convincing. Every note just sounds right, the compositional logic is clearer than ever before, and the performances simply grab you and pull you along every step of these amazing journeys. The Czech orchestra plays superbly, and the sonics are first-rate. I've been listening to these discs repeatedly since I got them, and I like them as much now as they first time I played them. The word definitive is one I would rarely use for a musical performance, because any work can be played convincingly in more than one way. But despite Kuchar's great predecessors in this repertoire, definitive seems to fit here." Report Abuse
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