Sakari Oramo's hybrid SACD of Carl Nielsen's most popular symphonies, the Symphony No. 4, "The Inextinguishable," and the Symphony No. 5, is a sonic showcase of works that ordinarily aren't treated as display pieces. Nielsen's scoring is clean and precise, and his handling of the orchestra is distinctive and often brilliant, so it's only natural that Oramo would take full advantage of the resources of the superb Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and BIS' state-of-the-art technology to present these symphonies with optimal sound quality. However, while listeners will be amazed by the incredible tone colors and the fantastic separation of parts in these recordings, they should still appreciate the symphonies for the strength of their ideas and the rigor of their development: these are serious essays that must be regarded among the greatest of symphonies. Nielsen's organic structures are strikingly clear in Oramo's interpretations, and there isn't any of the murkiness that attends other performances that strive for atmospheric effects. Oramo instead understands that the counterpoint reveals all, and as long as all the lines are heard clearly, as they are here, the symphonies unfold their themes logically and inevitably, revealing themselves as cogent essays in the tradition of Beethoven and Brahms, albeit with a Nordic flavor.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Symphony No. 4, Op. 29, FS 76 'The Inextinguishable'|
|Symphony No. 5, Op. 50, FS 97|