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Nielsen: Symphonies no 4-6 / Blomstedt, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra

4.7 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 12, 1999)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Decca
  • ASIN: B00001X5A3
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #137,579 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ed Luhrs on July 20, 2000
Format: Audio CD
First off, the Blomstedt recordings are exceptional, for both symphonies 1-3 and 4-6. The music included in addition to the symphonies is great fun, especially the "Hymnus Amoris," on the 4-6 release, which is an excellent, thoroughly enjoyable choral work. The recording is demonstration quality--clear, crisp definition with great performances. Nielsen is a highly original symphonic composer. In that way, he is like Sibelius. But he also demonstrates an intriguing quirkiness in his compositional style. By quirky I mean that his symphonies go through fits of ecstasy, melancholy, joy, eeriness, and solemnity, often within the space of mere minutes of listening. It takes a few listens to get into it. I enjoy it very much, though. "The Inextinguishable" has melodic elements in the first movement such as would melt the heart, and these fine moments are given a noble return in the finale, along with great use of tympani drums. The fifth and sixth are the especially quirky ones, the sixth the quirkiest of all. But chances are, if you're looking into Nielsen, you want to embrace music that contains vitality and a rich depth of expression... if so, you will really come to love all the orchestral works on these discs for their shifting intricacies, evolving patterns, and subtle orchestrations, and I will recommend it all wholeheartedly. These are great orchestral works.
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Format: Audio CD
The Blomstedt Nielsen cycle was originally issued on 3 cds with two symphonies each, but it has now been put onto 2 double cds, making the deal even more attractive. The fourth and fifth are among my favorite symphonies, and the SF symphony gives as fine a performance as I know of them. Just listen to the opening tuba blast in the 'Inextinguishable' and you know you're in for something special.
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Format: Audio CD
The greatest symphonies are not only peerless works of art, but they also speak profoundly and prophetically from the historical context out of which they were conceived. In this respect, I've always considered Shostakovich's Fifth and Ives's Fourth as the two greatest symphonies of the last century. Then I discovered Nielsen's Fifth...

Nielsen's Fifth, as performed by Blomstedt in this recording, is a stunning, miraculous, amazing, tragic, and ultimately life-affirming masterpiece. Written in the wake of the Great War when the scope of its horror had become fully apparent to the composer, it speaks profoundly and prophetically of the rise of nationalism, fascism, and the eternal conflict between a peaceful social discourse and the war-machine of the state.

The two other symphonies on this album are also noteable. The Fourth is a near great work, which was also written during the Great War and deals with the "Inextinguishable" spirit of mankind. The Sixt!h is enigmatic, iconoclastic, humorous.

Everyone interested in 20th Century classical music should purchase this complete set of Nielson symphonies. It will quickly become a treasured part of any music collection.
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Format: Audio CD
This set has changed the way I see Scandinavian music. Nielsen is a great composer and all his symphonies are up there among the very best of their era. He is bolder than the well-known Grieg and Sibelius and his music has something fresh. The playing of the SFSO under Herbert Blomstedt (have you hear the recording of Mahler's 2nd with the same contributors? One of the very best...) and the Decca sound really add to the great experience. The other pieces are good too but don't have the excitement of the symphonies- still a welcome addition. A must for all music lovers.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I may never buy another set of Nielsen Symphonies again. After these virtually definitive performances, why spend the money? The SFSO gets 5 stars, Blomstedt gets 5 stars, and the recording/engineers get 5 stars. As close as you'll find to perfection as far as I'm concerned.
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This is a classic, and deservedly so - Blomstedt recorded the cycle of Nielsen symphonies twice, but this one - his second - is without doubt the better one. The last three symphonies are coupled with two performances taken from another Decca recording with Ulf Schirmer; these are the charming Little Suite for Strings and the magnificent 20-minute choral and orchestral Hymnus Amoris. The latter features some fabulous singing from Barbara Bonney and John Mark Ainsley as well, and strongly serves to underpin the already solid recommendation secured by Blomstedt's symphonies.

The fourth symphony is the stand-out here, receiving a vigorous, utterly electrifying performance. Blomstedt paces the work wonderfully, constructs the musical arguments with care (even though they come across as fresh and spontaneous) and manages to draw out some hugely satisfying climaxes and equally realizing the untroubled, pastoral sunniness of other parts. But it is really the orchestral contributions from San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. that in the end pips any competitor to the post, with one marvelous solo after another, wonderfully characterized and superbly balanced against the orchestra. The fifth symphony exhibits many of the same virtues, again finding Blomstedt on top-form, drawing a thoroughly impressive mix of profundity exuberance and thoughtful, blue summer-sky playing from the orchestra. Again the solos are marvelous, and again Blomstedt's pacing and sculpting of the music comes across as well-neigh perfect. There might be other, equally satisfying versions of the fifth out there, but it seems safe to say that I haven't heard any superior ones.
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