4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Very good performances and recordings offer fine overall value as a compilation set
, 1 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Brahms 1, Dvorak 9, Sibelius 5, Nielsen 3, Four Symphonies: Dausgaard (C Major: 710604) [Blu-ray]  [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
This generously filled disc contains four important symphonic works and is designed to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Beckett Foundation's role in the cultural life of Denmark. In particular this recording is the result of the `Symphonic Summer project' collaboration between the orchestra and the Beckett Foundation. In the bonus section of the disc the conductor, Thomas Dausgard, describes his personal responses to these four works.
The key question that potential purchasers will be asking is whether this disc contains performances that are competitive with other recent issues both musically as well as financially.
The Brahms symphony makes an interesting comparison with the recent performances by Barenboim and Bychkov. Both of those are well respected performances and are weightier in their approach. They both build to excitingly powerful conclusions. This new version is fleeter and leaner throughout and this makes the work come over as a younger man's composition. I personally liked this very much and thought it appropriate for that of a first symphony, even though Brahms was far from being young at the time of composition.
The Nielsen 3 is a very fine performance with sharply delineated lines within the orchestral texture. In my opinion, this compares very favourably with the version by Michael Schonwandt with the same orchestra and which comes as part of a fine set of all 6 symphonies and in good sound. Both are good in their own ways, but the new performance seems to have rather more character and drive - just! The Schonwandt is an unbeatable bulk buy of the complete symphonies though.
The Sibelius 5 comes into competition with the particularly fine recent performance by Oramo and the Stockholm orchestra. That disc also contains an outstanding version of the Tchaikovsky violin concerto with Joshua Bell and starts with an incisive Leonora 3 Overture. Good though this new performance is, I personally prefer the Oramo performance for its extra weight and drama and also for its outstanding couplings.
The Dvorak 9 has strong forward movement as seems typical of this conductor. The first movement exposition repeat is also observed. The whole performance generates considerable excitement and is, for me, far preferable to the altogether steadier Maazel performance with the NYPO. There is, however, a strong competitor with Abbado's fine BPO concert which comes with a fine Brahms violin concerto with Shaham on top form. Although an older HD recording, the BPO sound remains totally impressive in genuine DTS 5.1 and the performance has similar drive.
This new recording provides excellent DTS 5.0 surround sound and stereo (not 5.1 as stated on the box/sleeve). The imaging is crisp and detailed, although I personally would prefer less activity and fewer close-up views of players and instrumental details.
In summary therefore, for my taste and ignoring financial considerations, I would choose Barenboim for Brahms 1, Oramo for Sibelius 5, Dausgard for Nielsen 3 and either Abbado or Dausgard for Dvorak 9. This disc nevertheless provides very satisfying performances of all four works and on that basis alone may well be irresistible for purchasers as it is obviously financially good value.
On musical grounds alone, and in my opinion, there are preferable alternatives to consider as above and therefore 4 stars would be my personal musical assessment. Factoring in financial considerations however, a 5 star assessment may be more appropriate. This fine tuning as to value has to be each individual purchaser's decision therefore. This review is simply intended to be a guide in the complex process of weighing up mixed compilations.
Some dialogue from the comments section that may offer further help:
Another Excellent Review, Ian!
Detailed, Interesting, Cogent, and Logical... (U.K. review)
I have not heard this. But you say, a fleetier version of a younger composer to Brahms 1st? Brahms was shaping his piano concerto 1 to be his first symphony, and composed or finished this one in his early 40s. I think he was done with his youth at that time, considering it was 19th century. Although I find all your reviws to be very helpful, including this one, it has encouraged me Not to buy this one. Thanks (U.K. review)
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