Recorded with the BBC Philharmonic between 2012 and 2015, John Storgårds' box set of the six symphonies of Carl Nielsen follows his 2014 Sibelius cycle on the same label, and he maintains the same high standards of interpretation and performance that made the previous set worthwhile. Storgårds conducts Nielsen's symphonies with an emphasis on their intellectual rigor, muscular counterpoint, and rugged orchestration, so for the most part he eschews lushness and rich tone colors and opts instead for lean textures and crisp articulation, which are essential to Nielsen's sound. Yet these performances are surprisingly vibrant and colorful, and quite appealing for their clarity and distinct separation of parts, while the reproduction gives the musicians a sense of space and presence. However, listeners who have grown accustomed to Chandos' superb audiophile recordings will be disappointed that these are standard stereo CDs, and as good as they sound, they would have been incredible in the multichannel format. As it stands, Storgårds' cycle faces direct competition from Alan Gilbert's hybrid SACD set with the New York Philharmonic, so with comparable approaches and rather similar musical results, this package's clearest advantage is its affordability.
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