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Sibelius: Symphony No 2; Nielsen: Symphonies 4 & 5; Bruckner / Dudamel, Gothenburg Symphony

Release Date: 09/13/2011 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 001587402   
Composer:  Jean SibeliusCarl NielsenAnton Bruckner
Conductor:  Gustavo Dudamel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 3 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

See all of Gustavo Dudamel's CDs & DVDs on DG

The Gothenburg Symphony, founded in 1905, is one of Europe’s top orchestras. In recognition of its impressive work, in 1997 it was named Sweden’s national orchestra. Gustavo Dudamel, catapulted in a remarkably short time to international prominence as a conducting talent, was named GSO’s Music Director in 2006. This 3-CD project of recent live recordings features Bruckner’s majestic Symphony no. 9, Sibelius’s uplifting
Read more Symphony no. 2, and Nielsen’s turbulent Symphonies no. 4 and 5.

Of a recent London outing with the GSO, The Guardian wrote: “But what’s so impressive about Gustavo Dudamel ... the hottest property in classical music – is that the showmanship goes with serious musical intelligence.” The Washington Post also enthused: “At once down-to-earth and slightly larger than life, appealingly confident but without projecting a massive ego, Dudamel makes music that sounds the way he comes across: contagiously likable and fresh.”


Prior to this release, Gustavo Dudamel hadn't proved to be the phenomenon on record that he is in the concert hall. This three-CD box set, which presents his first recordings with Sweden's Gothenburg Symphony since taking over as its music director in 2007, captures the thirty-year-old leading the orchestra in live accounts of big, deep scores new to him – Bruckner's Ninth Symphony, Sibelius's Second, Nielsen's Fourth and Fifth. The Sibelius and Nielsen have been terra firma in Gothenburg since the composers themselves conducted this orchestra in their music. But the combination of ensemble experience and young-blood direction means that Dudamel and company convey the hairpin dynamic turns, shape-shifting tonality, and life-affirming rhythmic drive of Nielsen's Symphonies No. 4 ("The Inextinguishable") and No. 5 with an electricity that thrills – and far more, for instance, than the well-regarded versions of Michael Schonwandt with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. The individual sections of the Gothenburg orchestra register strikingly – the deep sweep of the strings, piquantly Nordic winds, sternum-bruising percussion – but Nielsen's ensemble polyphony also fits together like a fluid mosaic.

In the Sibelius, Dudamel evokes more Tchaikovsky than mystery, but that isn't entirely inapt in the Second Symphony; oddly, this recording doesn't have the same enveloping sonic warmth as Neeme Järvi's live 2001 version, made with the same orchestra in the same hall and with the same engineer. Still, Dudamel's more quicksilver interpretation pulls you headlong into the music. The weak link in the chain is the Bruckner Ninth; the performance doesn't fully convey this music's weight-of-the-world profundity. Dudamel does have a rip-roaring way with the Scherzo, its impact mighty despite an often close-miked harshness to the sound. In the great Adagio finale, the conductor shows patience beyond his years, with his twenty-nine-minute traversal aiming to squeeze the score for every ounce of its Schubert-meets-Wagner lyricism. The horns are insecure in the quietest passages – compare the playing to that on, say, Claudio Abbado's live recording with the Vienna Philharmonic. Still, it's impressive overall for a conductor new to Bruckner, just as that's doubly true for the Sibelius. The Nielsen symphonies, though, are something special, making one wish for a complete cycle from this team.

– Bradley Bambarger, Listen [Winter 2011]
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 43 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Gustavo Dudamel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1901-1902; Finland 
Symphony no 4, Op. 29 "Inextinguishable" by Carl Nielsen
Conductor:  Gustavo Dudamel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1916; Denmark 
Symphony no 5, Op. 50 by Carl Nielsen
Conductor:  Gustavo Dudamel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1921-1922; Denmark 
Symphony no 9 in D minor, WAB 109 by Anton Bruckner
Conductor:  Gustavo Dudamel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1891-1896; Vienna, Austria 

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