Nielsen;Symphonies Nos.4&5 インポート
DEC 421524 FC; DECCA - Inghilterra; Classica Orchestrale
Herbert Blomstedt has the full measure of Nielsen's music, and this 1987 coupling of the Fourth and Fifth Symphonies, impossible before the advent of CD, is the ideal one. These are excellent performances, knowingly shaped and magnificently played. London provides a state-of-the-art recording, in a living, breathing, spacious ambience. --Ted Libbey
My wife, Thelma, and I lived in San Jose in the 1990's after I got out of college back in Chicago, and relished the Springtime visits by Blomstedt as a treat and this fine conductor always brought with him many of the great Symphonic standards with him, such as Bruckner Beethoven and Brahms and all of them resulting in a level of energy and refinement, that the sitting Music Director, Michael Tilson Thomas was simply not capable of delivering. It would help, of course, if MTT would do the best of the lot, but instead the SF audiences got the obstinate repeatedness of Stravinsky, Copland and Gershwin, three composers that MTT seems unable, or unwilling to let loose of. I did hear his Mahler 8th and Bruckner 9th. They were quite routine, and I would of gladly switched them with Blomstedt in a heartbeat. Still, MTT DID do a very good Mahler 8th, which I have recently reviewed here---please read it, thanks.
A vital key to good Nielsen is the proper contrasting of pian e forte, and the unrelenting drive of the music. This Blomstedt has in spades as he pushes the pace here with that wonderfully swaggering and big Boy aptitude the SFSO possess to a high degree. They are a VERY GOOD orchestra, and deserve a better MD, and I hope they get one. MTT has been in charge since 1995, and it is time for a change!! I have a hunch it could be Marin Alsop, an exciting young lady maestro who has produced some really good Brahms and riveting Barber, which i own and enjoy very much. We shall see.
A lot has been said about the SFSO's brass, and as a transplanted Chicago boy, I can say, they are quite marvelous, but not in the same league as the CSO, but still terribly good and powerful. The Inextinguishable is breathtaking and loaded with all kinds of goodies, and this recording has sound that never fails to impress, no need for Super Audio remastering here. Fine just as it is! The finale drum battle is electrifying and non-stop. The best anywhere and worth trhe price of the disk alone. More WOWS!!
The 5ht Symphony is a very different work but, in it's own unusual way, it is equally excellent. One almost gets the impression that this entire CD is an "audition disk" by an unknown orchestra/conductor combination but, of course, it is not that. The SFSO under Blomstedt owes nothing to anybody, as they simply play the way they are used to under their former Music Director. Like old friends getting together to relive past triumphs I fell for this London disk on it's first hearing back in 2010, when I picked it up for, get this, $2.99. WHAT a deal! I am still learning the 5th and Blomstedt's earlier Danish Radio cycle on EMI is also terrific, but this newer SFSO cycle on London beats that other set by a wide margin. Own 'em both, I say and treat yourselves to some grand performances. Not ever to be missed, enjoy, enjoy, and enjoy! Best wishes from yours truly, and God bless you all, Tony.
The Fifth might be a different matter for some but I cannot say I hear very much difference between Blomstedt and Kuchar - no lack of attack in either, I think. It is a harder, grimmer symphony than the first for obvious reasons given its allusions to WW1 via the martial sections; more like Nordic Shostakovich than Sibelius. Again, the playing is more polished and smoother under Blomstedt and the balance between instruments is even better, so you may buy this with confidence.
Nielsen’s title for the Symphony 4 connotes the inextinguishable force of life and music. If all is destroyed, music and life would simply be reborn. His symphony is a continuous work without breaks, but it does roughly divide into four “movements.” The first movement bursts on to the scene before introducing the main and secondary themes which are repeated throughout the movement. Following the climax of the movement, a quiet interlude provides the launching pad for the 2nd movement featuring the secondary theme of the first. The 4th movement is the most interesting of the symphony with two timpanists hammering away at their representation of the devil. Good responds with attempts at resurrecting the 1st movement’s main theme. The timpanists respond even more aggressively while the violins shriek in opposition and the brass begin their tug towards the glorious reestablishment of order, proper key, and the final recapitulation of the main theme that brings the symphony to a triumphant close.
Symphony 5 is organized into two movements with the first having 2 distinct sections and the second with four. The tumultuous 1st movement/1st section contains much percussion (both snare and timpani) and gives way to the 2nd section adagio which, though troubled initially, nonetheless confers some needed respite from the preceding storm. Horns provide hope while basses solemnly doubt the possibility. After much discussion between the instrumental sections, snares angrily protest with increasing intensity until the other instruments can hardly be heard. Finally, good prevails in a tapestry of triumphant sound that dies away amidst occasional remarks by snares. The 2nd movement begins with an emphatic allegro. The Presto that follows is a bit of a furious fugue with a theme that begins with the intervals of fourths. A 3rd section respite affords rest before the brief final section stormy Allegro that concludes with brass leading the way to resolution.
The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra play magnificently for Blomstedt and sound is superb. The 4th is the better symphony in my opinion, but the 5th’s first movement is wonderful. The disc is self-recommending.