Sakari Oramo / Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra

Carl Nielsen: Symphony No. 2 'The Four Temperaments'; Symphony No. 6 'Sinfonia Semplice'

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Even though Carl Nielsen's Symphony No. 2, "The Four Temperaments," and his Symphony No. 6, "Sinfonia Semplice," were separated by more than 20 years, and show an even greater distance in terms of style, they are curiously well-paired on this 2015 BIS release by Sakari Oramo and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. To be sure, Nielsen's robust and confident music in the Second Symphony is still firmly rooted in his youthful Brahmsian phase, while the uncertain and volatile effusions of the Sixth Symphony are as modernist as he would ever attempt. But both works are unique essays on human character, and their musical characteristics are highly personal and even experimental, revealing Nielsen's need to shape symphonic form to his intellectual and philosophical concepts. Oramo treats the Second with exuberance and wit, as befits its broad outlines, but for the more enigmatic Sixth he holds his cards closer to his vest, letting the music's internal contradictions play out through ambiguity and irony. The orchestra is vigorous and fully committed in both performances, and the multichannel sound captures these symphonies with rich sonorities and spacious acoustics. This hybrid SACD concludes Oramo's exceptional Nielsen cycle, so collectors should be sure to try all three volumes while they're still available.

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