Carl Nielsen: Chamber Music, Vol. 1

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Carl Nielsen: Chamber Music, Vol. 1 Review

by James Leonard

This first volume of DaCapo's Carl Nielsen edition is dedicated to the wind chamber music and the early piano trio. Performed by the DiamantEnsemblet, the official chamber ensemble of the Royal Danish Library, most of Nielsen's wind music sounds absolutely first rate and comparable to the best wind music of its time. The slyly slinky Serenata in Vano from 1914 is as well-composed as Stravinsky's Octet from 1922 -- and much more emotionally appealing. The charmingly quirky Wind Quintet from 1922 is as self-consciously classicizing as Schoenberg's Wind Quintet from 1924 -- and much less intellectually constipated. The remaining four wind works are either early -- the Fantasy Piece for clarinet and piano from the composer's 16th year and the Two Fantasy Pieces for oboe and piano from his 24th year -- unique -- the Canto Serioso for horn and piano, an audition piece for the Royal Danish Orchestra -- or quite unusual -- the three pieces drawn from the incidental music to The Mother, particularly the slender, tender, and beguiling The Fog is Lifting for flute and harp -- but they are all beautifully played by the DiamantEnsemblet. Opening the disc is the Piano Trio in three movements from the composer's 18th year in a stylish performance by the Trio Ondine -- stylish, that is to say, in the style of late Mozart, early Schubert, or middle Berwald. Recorded in warm, close, even intimate sound, this disc will please every Nielsen fan and any fan of great wind chamber music.

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