Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra

Carl Nielsen: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 5

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Taped more than half a century ago, and a decade before the modest revival of interest in the composer in the later '60s, these performances of two of Carl Nielsen's symphonies by the Danish Radio Symphony are fired by the fervor of true believers. The Third Symphony, under conductor John Frandsen, with soprano Ruth Güldbæk and tenor Erik Sjoberg, was recorded in the studio for Philips over three days in March 1955, and it is electrifying. Frandsen's tempos are perfect; the opening Allegro has plenty of power but doesn't rush, the central Andante balances between contemplation and drama, and both the Scherzo and the Finale have more drive and conviction than almost any subsequent recorded performance. More importantly, Frandsen and the Danish players have the advantage of believing fully in Nielsen's music, and their playing has a marvelous sense of inevitability. Even better is Erik Tuxen's performance of the Fifth Symphony from the 1950 Edinburgh Festival. Here, the composer's ardent advocates are manifestly trying to convert an international audience, and the intensity of their reading is riveting. The opening movement has an organic sense of primal drama, and the closing movement's triumph is so complete it's ecstatic. Anyone interested in the composer or the period should look into these performances in this beautifully restored Guild reissue.

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