Niklas Willén

Nielsen: Aladdin Suite; Pan and Syrinx; Saga Deam; Maskarade Overture; Helios Overture

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AllMusic Review by

In his orchestral music, Carl Nielsen's three concertos and six symphonies take pride of place as his most masterful essays, yet several of his shorter pieces have become well known and quite regularly recorded as filler on CDs of the larger works. Such works as the Helios Overture, Op. 17; the Overture and Prelude to Act II from the opera Maskarade; and the tone poems Saga-Dream, Op. 39, Pan and Syrinx, Op. 49, and Cupid and the Poet, Op. 54, are colorful, tuneful, and likable for their Romantic warmth, striking scene painting, and lack of modernist complications. Interestingly, these engaging pieces serve here almost as a block of filler for the Aladdin Suite, Op. 34, Nielsen's most exotic incidental music and the major work on this 2005 Naxos release by Niklás Willén and the South Jutland Symphony Orchestra. The performances are enthusiastic and vivid, and one may well imagine that this orchestra has played these works many times, since the music is well-practiced and the interpretations finely honed. It is too much to say that any expressive depths are plumbed in these performances, or that much of Nielsen's mature character is apparent in these light pieces; but the best of them reveal his abundant lyrical gifts and great skill in orchestration, and this disc is a fine complement to the excellent Naxos series of the symphonies and concertos.

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