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Franz Berwald: Symphonies, Volume 1 - Sinfonie Singulière (No. 3) / Sinfonie Naïve (No. 4) / Elfenspiel - Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra / Thomas Dausgaard

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Audio CD, March 26, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

Symphonie n° 3 (Sinfonie singulière) en ut majeur, Symphonie n° 4 (Sinfonie naïve) en mi bémol majeur, Elfenspiel, peinture symphonique pour grand orchestre de Franz Berwald / Orchestre symphonique de la radio nationale danoise, dir. Thomas Dausgaard
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Thomas Dausgaard
  • Composer: Franz Berwald
  • Audio CD (March 26, 2002)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Alliance
  • ASIN: B00005YUH2
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #633,687 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By David Saemann VINE VOICE on August 18, 2008
Format: Audio CD
First, a little housekeeping. The Sinfonie Singuliere is mastered at a significantly lower volume level than the rest of the CD. I had to change the volume level for Elfenspiel. That aside, this is a very worthwhile CD. The Sinfonie Singuliere is one of the less heralded masterpieces of 19th Century music. I first encountered it on an LP by Milton Katims and the Seattle Symphony, a performance of incomparable wit and nuance. Dausgaard's performance is almost as good. It is quite fast, with a splendid feeling for the shifting orchestral textures. I'm not sure I always would want to hear the symphony this way, but it makes for a bracing experience. The remaining works are very well done, too. There was a CD of the Symphonie Naive by Herbert Blomstedt and the San Francisco Symphony, but Dausgaard does not suffer by comparison. It is not an easy work to hold together, but that problem does not arise here. Sound engineering throughout the CD, volume level notwithstanding, is excellent, with wonderful dynamic range and no digital sound coloration. I should note that there is a budget priced set of all four Berwald Symphonies on Arte Nova which has received mixed reviews, but which I think is excellent. The artists are David Montgomery and the Jena Philharmonic. Still, Dausgaard is fine as a supplemental vision of these works.
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Format: Audio CD
Thomas Dausgaard is one of those conductors at work today that never really turns in a bad performance. Ok, his Schumann cycle for BIS was somewhat underwhelming , but his cycle of the complete symphonies of Langgaard was stunning and his Beethoven simply rocked. Here, Dausgaard turns his attention to the all-too-neglected Swedish master Franz Berwald, and while there are not too many Berwald cycles currently available, Dausgaard blows most out of the water, including Jarvi's, Bjorlin's, and Montgomery's cycles, and can stand proudly next to Sixten Ehrling as a keen and insightful interpreter of this quirky and bizarre early Romantic.

The best performance in this cycle is thankfully the Third, arguably Berwald's greatest work. If I had one complaint about this performance it would be that Dausgaard could elicit slightly more gnarl from the brass in the large tutti passages. That being said, the terraced build of the main theme in the first movement is about as fine as you will find on disc while the finale is a stunning romp through Berwald's idiomatic sound world. The babushka doll second movement, an adagio which houses a scherzo which, in turn, holds a tiny wisp of a trio, is stunning, the return of the adagio after the scherzo hauntingly effective.

The Fourth is scarcely less fine, Dausgaard shaping the magnificent slow movement lovingly. The first movement is quite well done as well, featuring some wonderful ensemble work in the development, charming wind chirps leading into the recapitulation.
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