Nielsen: Complete Symphonies

Nielsen: Complete Symphonies
Composer Carl Nielsen
Artist Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra
Theodore Kuchar conductor
Format 3 CD
Cat. number 94419
EAN code 5028421944197
Release August 2012

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About this release

Half a bar of Carl Nielsen and you know it’s him; a characteristic of great composers down the ages, to be sure, but one peculiarly concentrated around nationalist composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Nationalist, not necessarily through any political affiliation but because they sought to renew both the standard musical forms and genres, and their own country’s culture, with bold and fresh attempts to marry the two. So successful was Nielsen at this (like Sibelius in Finland), indeed, that for decades afterwards he seemed to cast a shadow over those who came after.

The symphonies lie at the centre of Nielsen’s achievement. They develop as he did, from exuberant Romanticism (No.1), through rangy melodies and ‘visionary’ slow movements (Nos. 2 and 3), to an unquenchable embrace of the heroic struggle that places Man at the centre of his world (Nos. 4 and 5), finally to rest in a quizzical re-examination of all that we hold worthwhile in mind and music (No.6, the ‘Sinfonia semplice’: never was a symphony more ironically named.)

Each symphony sets off on its own exciting journey, and the demands Nielsen makes on his participants are extreme; he was a fine violinist himself, and he used his extensive knowledge to turn string players inside out with ferocious fugues and precipitous runs. Many great orchestras have tackled this music, and some have ended up making it into little more than concertos for orchestra in all but name. Not however, this apparently less glittering ensemble. David Hurwitz, famously hard to please, is unequivocal in his Classics Today review: ‘Theodore Kuchar leads what is without question the most exciting complete Nielsen symphony cycle available, making this the set to get for Nielsen newcomers.’

Other information:
- Theodore Kuchar’s discography on Brilliant Classics is impressive, and gained great critical acclaim: Complete Symphonic Poems by Dvorak (BC 92297), Complete Orchestral Works by Smetana (BC93634) and the Jazz Suites by Shostakovich (BC 6735).
- Recorded in 2005, Concert Hall, Ostrava, Czech Republic.

Track list

Disk 1

  1. Symphony No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 7: Allegro orgoglioso
  2. Symphony No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 7: Andante
  3. Symphony No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 7: Allegro comodo
  4. Symphony No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 7: Finale, allegro con fuoco
  5. Symphony No. 2, Op. 16 “The Four Temperaments”: Allegro collerico
  6. Symphony No. 2, Op. 16 “The Four Temperaments”: Allegro comodo e flemmatico
  7. Symphony No. 2, Op. 16 “The Four Temperaments”: Andante malincolico
  8. Symphony No. 2, Op. 16 “The Four Temperaments”: Allegro sanguinoso

Disk 2

  1. Symphony No. 3, Op. 27 “Sinfonia espansiva”: Allegro espansivo
  2. Symphony No. 3, Op. 27 “Sinfonia espansiva”: Andante pastorale
  3. Symphony No. 3, Op. 27 “Sinfonia espansiva”: Allegretto un poco
  4. Symphony No. 3, Op. 27 “Sinfonia espansiva”: Finale, allegro
  5. Symphony No. 4, Op. 29 “The Inextinguishable”: Allegro
  6. Symphony No. 4, Op. 29 “The Inextinguishable”: Poco allegretto
  7. Symphony No. 4, Op. 29 “The Inextinguishable”: Poco adagio quasi andante
  8. Symphony No. 4, Op. 29 “The Inextinguishable”: Allegro

Disk 3

  1. Symphony No. 5, Op. 50: Tempo giusto
  2. Symphony No. 5, Op. 50: Allegro
  3. Symphony No. 6 “Sinfonia semplice”: Tempo giusto
  4. Symphony No. 6 “Sinfonia semplice”: Humoreske, allegretto
  5. Symphony No. 6 “Sinfonia semplice”: Proposta seria, adagio
  6. Symphony No. 6 “Sinfonia semplice”: Theme & variations