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Carl Nielsen: Symphony No. 4 "The Inextinguishable"; Symphony No. 1 / Alan Gilbert, New York Philharmonic

Nielsen / New York Phil / Gilbert
Release Date: 09/09/2014 
Label:  Dacapo   Catalog #: 220624   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Carl Nielsen
Conductor:  Alan Gilbert
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Number of Discs: 1 
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SuperAudio CD:  $17.99
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.

These are strong, exciting performances of symphonies that demand the sort of bold muscularity in their execution that these artists offer. In Alan Gilbert’s hands the First Symphony sounds extremely confident and wholly mature. It starts with a bang and the tension in the first movement never lets up. The playing of the New York Philharmonic throughout is fresh and unaffected, full of spirit and drive. Even the Andante flows purposefully forward, and contrasts nicely with the Allegro comodo that does duty for a scherzo–with its harmonic kinks so personal to Nielsen. The finale has the same “pedal to the metal” drive as the opening, bringing
Read more the performance to a rousing conclusion.

The performance of the “Inextinguishable” Fourth Symphony also features some really impressive energy and power. In the first movement the brass play with a precision and clarity that few other versions can match, and in the finale the dueling timpani compete with real bravura. The slow movement here reminds me of Shostakovich in its bleak intensity, and my only quibble with Gilbert’s interpretation concerns the symphony’s coda where, like most of his colleagues, Gilbert broadens the pace in the closing bars when Nielsen clearly wants to drive the music home in tempo. Gilbert does pull it off: with an orchestra that has the weight and strength of the New York Philharmonic the effect is convincing, but Gibson (on Chandos) remains unmatched here.

Dacapo’s engineering, as with the previous release in this series, is natural and very present. The woodwinds feel just slightly recessed in more fully scored sections, but I can attest that the music really does sound like this in actual performance with a large orchestra, and certainly nothing gets lost. More importantly, the engineers have captured the impression of a live performance, caught on the wing, and the audience is mercifully quiet. This is a very impressive release.

– David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 1 in G minor, Op. 7 by Carl Nielsen
Conductor:  Alan Gilbert
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1890-1892; Denmark 
Symphony no 4, Op. 29 "Inextinguishable" by Carl Nielsen
Conductor:  Alan Gilbert
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1916; Denmark 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Important disc from the Nielsen Project October 29, 2014 By Dean Frey See All My Reviews "This new DaCapo CD with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Alan Gilbert includes fresh live recordings of two of the greatest 20th Century Symphonies, the first and fourth by Carl Nielsen. These are strongly felt performances; Gilbert calls this “full-blooded, passionate, dramatic and ultimately human music.” An early review of the First Symphony, also quoted in the liner notes, called Nielsen “ruthless but innocent - like a child playing with dynamite.” Gilbert shows the Bart Simpson side of this astonishing work, downplaying its 19th Century Romantic roots in favour of something sharper, ruder, more modern. The challenge for today’s musicians is to present revolutionary music of a century (Nielsen or Stravinsky) or two or three centuries ago (Beethoven or Monteverdi) and make it sound as freshly radical today. This means turning up the volume or sharpening the focus, and Gilbert and his excellent players do both here, to great effect. I don’t mean to slight the Fourth Symphony. This great work, written during the slaughter of World War I, represents the mature composer’s deepest thoughts on life as well as music. Its exalted programme - it’s called ‘The Inextinguishable” - might have condemned a lesser composer’s music to bathetic gestures and cliche, but Nielsen’s default mode is liveliness. His music always has a strong pulse, and this work has such a vital forward thrust that even the grief Nielsen expresses over the violence overtaking the world has its own dramatic interest. Gilbert and the orchestra are again admirably direct and dramatic, and are aided by a clear and lifelike recording. This is more than a great Nielsen recording, though great Nielsen recordings are hardly thick on the ground. It is part of the vitally important Nielsen Project (nyphil.org/nielsenproject) which will present concerts and recordings of the six symphonies and three concertos from 2012 to 2015. Alan Gilbert deserves a great deal of credit for his vision in bringing this music to a wider audience and raising Nielsen’s reputation closer to what he deserves: amongst the three or four greatest composers of the 20th Century." Report Abuse
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