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Nielsen;Carl Comp Syms


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Amazon.com: 6 reviews
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
A splendid collection of Nielsen's six symphonies June 28 2006
By Michael Birman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Carl Nielsen and Jean Sibelius were contemporaries. A northern austerity and a cool Scandinavian bleakness suffuses their symphonies. But Sibelius absorbed the Late Romantic style early in his career so that his 7 symphonies are characterised by their expansiveness and songlike themes. Carl Nielsen began his Symphonic career with a Neoclassical orientation and by the time of his 3rd Symphony was firmly entrenched among the Modernists. His themes are concise, often aciduous in flavor, frequently exhibiting a mordant wit in the woodwinds and percussion. It is this texture and manner of expression rather than any dissonant quality that exemplifies Nielsen's modernity. Even so, his music was initially misunderstood and criticized and it was not until his 4th Symphony that he began to receive the recognition due a composer of international stature. The composition of his 6 Symphonies occupied Nielsen from 1889 to 1925. Their uniformly high quality entitles him to be considered one of the finest Symphonists of the first quarter of the 20th Century. In the later symphonies, one may be surprised to hear passages that are unmistakably reminiscent of Bela Bartok. Here are entire sections hinting at Bartok's trademark astringent instrumental color and mood; his dark Transylvanian "Nachtmusik", with musical bats nervously flitting from tree to tree. This notion was confirmed to me by the superb hour long biographical film about Carl Nielsen on disc 3 entitled "The Light and the Darkness" which mentions Nielsen's friendship with Bartok and the Hungarian composer's familiarity with Nielsen's music. Nielsen's influence is explicit, especially in Bartok's masterpiece: Concerto for Orchestra. If you are unfamiliar with Nielsen's music but enjoy Bartok's, you will probably like these DVDs. This also holds true in reverse. If you despise Bartok, Nielsen will not overwhelm you. I enjoy them both and found this DVD set to be a fine release on all counts.

Michael Schonwandt conducts the splendid Danish National Symphony Orchestra. Nielsen is Denmark's national composer and their pride is everywhere evident in this release. All of the orchestra shines, but the stunning Brass and Woodwinds along with the Percussionists must be singled out for well deserved praise. Their playing is simply superb, world class in every way. These performances are similar in style (though more expansive in tempo and introspective in emotional outlook) than Herbert Blomstedt's San Francisco Orchestra recordings on Decca from the 1980's. If you liked those recordings (as I did), you will respond favorably to these discs. This is an exciting release.

These three DVD's are NTSC encoded for worldwide release. The film is recorded in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen. It was filmed on 2 and 4 November 2000 at the Danish Radio Concert Hall. The picture is crystal clear. Sound is available in PCM stereo, Dolby Dogital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 Digital Surround Sound. All are superbly clear and well-focussed with the Dolby and DTS providing greater spatial depth and rear ambiance. The hall has an especially clear and warm acoustic quality. The audience is extremely well behaved, never coughing once! Subtitles are in English, French and German. The bonus film is available in all these languages as well. Total time of the entire set is 287 minutes. The 60 page booklet is glossy and informative with indepth analysis that includes musical examples. It is the finest DVD booklet I've yet seen. The bonus film (on the 3rd disc) has its own booklet, as well!

This is a superb (if not definitive) 3 DVD set of Carl Nielsen's 6 Symphonies. Most strongly recommended.

Mike Birman
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Danish Delight from Da Capo July 24 2006
By Ian C. Punter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
What riches are appearing on DVD now! This lovely set of the complete symphonies of Carl Nielsen, along with an excellent hour-long documentary, (which is full of love and affection for the man and his music, but is no mere hagiography), comes with good sound and picture quality. I was so enthralled at the prospect of this release, I bought it direct from Da Capo a week or two in advance of the release date....(cheaper, I must add, if you take the Amazon route!!) The good folk at that company, (Da Capo), also assured me that both 'Maskerade' and 'Saul and David' are on their way in Danish productions, the former quite soon, the latter in a couple of years! Mouthwatering!

Mini-quibbles....The sound is perfectly good but not, shall we say, 'fantastic'. Most of my CD recording of particularly Symphonies 3, 4 & 5, leave me drained, - not quite the case here, though Michael Schonwandt has this music at his fingertips, and all the tension and release that Nielsen applies with his often 'dangerous' tonalities, is here.

These are concert-hall performances and therefore afford the director limited opportunity for visual variation. (I had the good fortune in past years to sit in the middle of the Boston/Cleveland/Philadelphia orchestras/LSO/RPO etc operating a film camera, on various BBC documentaries, and I appreciate the problem. The temptation is there to go TOO close on bow and string, TOO often to focus on the undoubtedly most attractive lady player. These symphonies are best enjoyed quite separately, to avoid the 'Oh, not HER again-syndrome'!

Most importantly though, this is a set to return to again and again, which is not necessarily the case with many equally fine performances on DVD. Bravo!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Excellent performances but marred by bizarre DVD encoding March 9 2010
By B. K. Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
As others have said, these Nielsen performances are well worth owning. Schonwandt gives spirited and enjoyable readings with sane choices of tempi throughout. Perhaps the performances lack the last ounce of drama, but his love of the music is never in doubt and the Danish players respond with enthusiasm to his direction.

My gripe with this set concerns the way the two discs containing the symphonies have been encoded. Between the movements of each symphony, the picture freezes for a few seconds (usually on an image of the conductor) before continuing with the next movement. The first time it happened, I thought it was a problem with my player freezing but a quick check of the time readout indicated that the disc was still playing normally. The effect is quite disconcerting and I really don't understand why DaCapo have done this.

But it gets worse. Each disc contains three symphonies. If you want to play a symphony other than the first one on each disc, you can select it on the menu but then you will get the menu re-displayed at the end of each movement and you have to select the next movement! Absolutely crazy. The only way to avoid this is to play the disc from the start and keeping skipping through the tracks until you get to the start of the symphony you want. This is so irritating and could easily have been avoided.

There is also a bad encoding error whereby the very start of the final movement of the 3rd Symphony is lost.

If DaCapo could be persuaded to re-code these discs to make them more user-friendly (and correct the error just mentioned), this set would indeed be a winner.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Do we need to watch? Dec 11 2008
By Martin Kuskis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
There is very little to criticise about this set. The 'live' performances of these wonderful symphonies rank in each case with the best on record - this may be the most consistently fine Nielsen set there is. Michael Schonwandt has the measure of the music and obtains incisive and exciting playing from his first-rate orchestra. The sound is clear and well balanced and there is little or no audience noise. The video direction is decent and unobtrusive, though I would have preferred more wide shots of the orchestra and fewer of individual groups of players. The packaging is attractive and (unusally for DVD) detailed notes are included. This is a prestige product by a Danish company for its national composer.

And yet there is something lacking. I think it is to do with why we look at DVD concerts rather than just listen to CDs. The DVDs I want to watch will feature great artists, or be in outstanding locations, or commemmorate some historic occasion. With great respect to Michael Schonwandt he is not (yet) considered to be among the great conductors, and his gestures are not particularly interesting to watch. The concert hall in which these performances were given is modern and nondescript, without the visual appeal of, say, the Musikverein or Linz Cathedral.

Certainly these performances should be heard. But you may not wish to watch them very often.
14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
NEILSEN July 28 2006
By Patrick Boyle - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
AFTER LISTENING TO THE TWO DVDS I FELT LIKE I WAS AT A CONCERT OF ALL THE NEILSEN SYMPHONIES.THE SOUND AND VISUAL ASPECTS OF THE WERE VERY GOOD AND THE TOTAL EFFECT MADE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU WERE SITTING IN THE ORCHESTRA.THANKS FOR A GREAT PRODUCT.


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