Notes and Editorial Reviews
"Two cycles of Nielsen symphonies are currently underway in Sweden; one from Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra (CBS) and the other from the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra under Myung-Whun Chung (BIS/Conifer)...In later life Nielsen was a frequent guest conductor in Gothenburg and as a young man earned his living playing in the Royal Danish Orchestra, whose new cycle begins under Paavo Berglund...The First Symphony, which put Nielsen firmly on the map, must have caused some raised eyebrows in the 1890s since it begins in one key and ends in another! Its joins and seams are clearly visible, but the music is so fresh and so lyrical that one can see why Nielsen always retained a strong affection for it. Berglund's
account is infinitely preferable to the Salonen, which is mannered; his finale is rushed at minim = 152 (rather than 120), while the opening is also much faster (120 instead of 104) than the suggested tempo. Conversely, the Andante is dragged (44 rather than 60) and although there are beautiful things here and there, it's difficult, as I said when reviewing the Salonen, ''to sense a deeply held point of view''. After that, the Berglund comes as something of a relief. He is much more straightforward and adheres fairly closely to the marked tempos, and although the very ending of the finale strikes me as a bit headlong he holds the architecture of the symphony together in a convincing way. Phrases are affectionately turned but never pulled out of shape.
The Fourth Symphony comes from a totally different world and reaches a level of violence and dissonance that is quite new in Nielsen's musical language. A glance above shows that there are already four rival accounts, and we can soon expect a fifth from Gothenburg. Again, Berglund scores over his gifted young countryman and the Swedish Radio orchestra in giving us a performance that is generally closer to Nielsen's score though some may find (as I did) that his first movement is fractionally breathless. He is as close to the markings as makes no difference but in his desire to convey the sense of drama and urgency, tends to be impatient to move things on. The second movement is beautifully done and there is much to admire in the third even if Ole Schmidt (Unicorn-Kanchana on CD part of a three-disc set) conveys more of the anguish in the soaring melodic lines. Schmidt reminds us more of Nielsen's own simile concerning the string lines (''like the eagle riding on the wind'') than does Berglund. Of course, the latter is better served by the engineers than was Schmidt in the mid 1970s. However, the finale here in this newcomer poses a major problem. It really does move, and at such speed that one feels rushed off one's feet, particularly in the dosing paragraphs. This alone would, I feel, prevent me from returning to this version very often."
-- Robert Layton, Gramophone [7/1988]
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 1 in G minor, Op. 7 by Carl Nielsen
Royal Danish Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1890-1892; Denmark
Be the first to review this title