Nielsen - Symphonies Nos 2 & 3 (2013)

Nielsen

London Symphony Orchestra

Sir Colin Davis

The story of how Nielsen conceived his Second Symphony beautifully illustrates this composer’s unique blend of urbane sophistication and rustic simplicity. Aside from his wide – and ever-expanding – musical knowledge, Nielsen drank in the world’s great literature: Shakespeare and Goethe, Greek and Norse myths; he is said to have kept a copy of Plato’s Republic by his bedside in place of the customary Bible. He would have been thoroughly acquainted with the Ancient Greek notion of the ‘Four Temperaments’, the idea that the emotional characteristics of human beings can be categorised as four types or ‘humours’: ‘Choleric’ (angry or impetuous), ‘Phlegmatic’ (laid-back, or simply lazy), ‘Melancholic’ (self-explanatory) and ‘Sanguine’ (cheerful).

But it was the discovery of a na.ve but vivid painting of the Four Temperaments on the wall of a village pub that set him thinking in musical terms. By 1901 this had become the basis of a four-movement symphony. Nielsen doesn’t present us with any value judgments here: the fact that the Sanguine character has the last word doesn’t mean that the composer sees him as in any way superior to the others. The range of human character is his subject here, portrayed sometimes with stirring emotional directness, at other times with delightful irony.

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London Symphony Orchestra

The LSO was formed in 1904 as London’s first self-governing orchestra and has been resident orchestra at the Barbican since 1982. Valery Gergiev became Principal Conductor in 2007 following in the footsteps of Hans Richter, Sir Edward Elgar, Sir Thomas Beecham, André Previn, Claudio Abbado and Michael Tilson Thomas, among others. Sir Colin Davis had previously held the position since 1995 and from 2007 became the LSO’s first President since Leonard Bernstein. The Orchestra gives numerous concerts around the world each year, plus more performances in London than any other orchestra. It is the world’s most recorded symphony orchestra and has appeared on some of the greatest classical recordings and film soundtracks. The LSO also runs LSO Discovery, its ground-breaking education programme that is dedicated to introducing the finest music to young and old alike and lets everyone learn more from the Orchestra’s players. For more information visit lso.co.uk

Sir Colin Davis

Principal Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra from 1995, and then President from 2006 until his death in 2013, Sir Colin Davis performed regularly with the LSO at the Barbican and on tour. As well as featuring on many LSO Live recordings, helping to provide the label with significant profile in its early days, he also recorded widely with Philips, BMG and Erato. His LSO Live releases have won numerous prizes, including Grammy and Gramophone Awards, and a BBC Music Magazine Award (2007), and have covered, among others, repertoire by Berlioz, Dvo?.k, Elgar, Haydn, MacMillan, Sibelius, Tippett, and Verdi. Sir Colin was formerly Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra (1967–71), became the Music Director of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 1971, and was Principal Guest Conductor of the New York Philharmonic from 1998 to 2003. Other orchestras he held prominent positions with include the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchetra, the Dresden Staatskapelle, and the English Chamber Orchestra.

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Nielsen - Symphonies Nos 2 & 3 (2013)

Nielsen

London Symphony Orchestra

    Sunday Times

Colin Davis establishes himself as a first-class Nielsenian on our pick of the week... With this coupling, Davis leaves the best for last, too: Nielsen’s most accessible symphony, 'The Four Temperaments' (No 2), a work ideally suited to Davis’s volatile humours; and the 'Sinfonia Espansiva', arguably the composer’s greatest and most characteristically nationalist.

    BBC Music Magazine -

**** Performance This recording is an exhilarating display of the life-force at full blast in both composer and conductor.

    BBC Radio 3 CD Review

The whole work is well paced from the choleric outburst of the first movement to the cheerfully sanguine finale. In fact that’s one of the keys to this account – Davis manages to convince you that it is indeed a symphony, and not a set of four character pieces. The LSO’s playing is irreproachable in the last instalment with Davis.

    NPR

Conducting with precision and vitality, Colin Davis completes his survey of all six Nielsen symphonies with the London Symphony Orchestra.

    Classical CD Choice

With this sublime setting down of Symphonies 2 & 3, Colin Davis brings to a triumphant conclusion his enlightening Nielsen symphony cycle. The first title in the series, Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5, was an instant critical success (with some caveats), while the second, with Symphonies 1 & 6, was similarly acclaimed. Nielsen’s Second Symphony was a result of the composer’s exposure to a naïve painting representing the four temperaments of the human personality. The Third is the most characteristically Danish of his symphonies, and is given a non-pareil reading here in glowing surround sound which tames the Barbican acoustic.

    The Times

Sir Colin Davis’s interpretations of the great Dane’s idiosyncratic and tempestuous scores have been revelations.

    Classical Source

Zesty and affectionate, with depth of feeling when required, there is a freshness to this account that makes it worth hearing, and the joyous finale has a bounce that is infectious.

    Audiophile Audition -

The sonics on both are up to the high standards of LSO Live SACDs. Individual solos come through clearly and with great spatiality, and the orchestral climaxes are rich and clean, free of the compression effects frequently heard on standard CDs.

    Mail on Sunday -

The newly released Nielsen: Symphonies 2 & 3 is drawn from concerts in December 2011 and showcases authoritative performances that for me are the best in class. Nielsen needs a firm hand, and gets one from Davis; his intellectual grip and rigour is astonishing for a man of his age.

Nielsen - Symphonies Nos 2 & 3 (2013)

Nielsen

London Symphony Orchestra

Mastering Engineer: Classic Sound Ltd. Neil Hutchinson, Jonathan Stokes
Producer: James Mallinson
Recording Engineer: Classic Sounds Ltd. Neil Hutchinson
Recording location: Barbican, London
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD64

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LSO0722: Nielsen - Symphonies Nos 2 & 3
01:06:35   Select quality & channels above
Tracks.
1.
Symphony No. 2, The Four Temperaments, Op. 16 - i. Allegro collerico (Choleric)
Nielsen
00:09:57   Select quality & channels above
2.
Symphony No. 2, The Four Temperaments, Op. 16 ii. Allegro comodo e flemmatico (Phlegmatic)
Nielsen
00:04:16   Select quality & channels above
3.
Symphony No. 2, The Four Temperaments, Op. 16 - iii. Andante malincolico (Melancholic)
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00:09:54   Select quality & channels above
4.
Symphony No. 2, The Four Temperaments, Op. 16 - iv. Allegro sanguineo - Marziale (Sanguine)
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00:07:47   Select quality & channels above
5.
Symphony No. 3, Sinfonia Espansiva, Op. 27- i. Allegro espansivo
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00:11:28   Select quality & channels above
6.
Symphony No. 3, Sinfonia Espansiva, Op. 27- ii. Andante pastorale
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00:07:26   Select quality & channels above
7.
Symphony No. 3, Sinfonia Espansiva, Op. 27- iii. Allegretto un poco
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00:06:29   Select quality & channels above
8.
Symphony No. 3, Sinfonia Espansiva, Op. 27- iv. Finale- Allegro
Nielsen
00:09:18   Select quality & channels above

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