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Carl Nielsen: Symphonies Nos. 2 "The Four Temperaments" & 3 "Sinfonia espansiva" CD

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Conductor: Michael Schønwandt
  • Composer: Carl Nielsen
  • Audio CD (2 Jun. 2008)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B0018D89C4
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 155,536 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist - Artist (Sample)
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6:21
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9:36
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4:40
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7
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11:20
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Product Description

Symphonies n°3 FS 60 op.27 & n°2 FS 29 op.16 / Inger Dam-Jensen, soprano - Poul Elming, baryton - Orchestre Symphonique National Danois - Michael Schønwandt, direction

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This is the second in a series of budget reissues of the lauded three-CD set of all of Nielsen's symphonies with Michael Schønwandt leading the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. The latter set is still available at full-price on the da capo label. I cannot tell any difference sonically between the da capo set and these new Naxos releases. Obviously the choice now would be to get the Naxos. The earlier release in the Naxos series was of Symphonies 1 & 6; presumably Symphonies Nos. 4 ('Inextinguishable') and 5 will follow.

The Second Symphony (1901-1902), subtitled 'The Four Temperaments', was inspired by Nielsen's seeing a crude painting of the Four Humors in a village inn in Zealand, Denmark. The four movements depict the choleric, phlegmatic, melancholic and sanguine temperaments, which correspond to the old notion of the four bodily humors: yellow bile, phlegm, black bile and blood. The idea appealed to Nielsen because he wanted to try his hand at depicting various personalities in music. The first movement is impetuous and straightforward but not without its moments of tenderness. The second is a slow march. Nielsen said he had in mind a young man in his late teens who was idle, a bit of a trial to his parents and teachers, who takes long lazy walks in the countryside. The third movement depicts a man of deeply depressive nature who has had to make courageous decisions in his lifetime and has ended up disillusioned, the latter depicted by a repetitive descending fourth. The fourth movement pictures an unreflectively optimistic man who expects all will go his way and who, in Nielsen biographer Robert Simpson's words, is 'full of rude vigor and gusty laughter.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
my first experience of Nielsen - Harry being my only previous knowledge - prompted by hearing his second symphony during The Proms, and i really like it - both update and lively, and beautiful in all the right places
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Format: Audio CD
This is a Naxos budget reissue from the full-price daCapo label. I bought the original issue and was very pleased indeed with these performances. They are based on the corrected, new edition of Nielsen's scores, and as performances they would be ideal for anyone coming new to this glorious, life-enhancing music. For those who like to see a performance as well as hear it, there is a box set of the 6 symphonies conducted by Schonwandt available on DVD - I also own that and it is excellent.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Unfortunately it was not clear to me that this item was not a CD, so I had to go on to purchase the work on CD. The first item has never been played by myself . I cannot say whether it is OK
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Budget Reissue of Part of Schønwandt's Lauded Nielsen Symphony Series 23 July 2008
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is the second in a series of budget reissues of the lauded three-CD set of all of Nielsen's symphonies with Michael Schønwandt leading the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. The latter set is still available at full-price on the da capo label. (I had earlier reviewed the first release in the series: Nielsen: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 6 'Sinfonia Semplice'). I cannot tell any difference sonically between the da capo set and these new Naxos releases. Obviously the choice now would be to get the Naxos. The earlier release in the Naxos series was of Symphonies 1 & 6; presumably Symphonies Nos. 4 ('Inextinguishable') and 5 will follow.

The Second Symphony (1901-1902), subtitled 'The Four Temperaments', was inspired by Nielsen's seeing a crude painting of the Four Humors in a village inn in Zealand, Denmark. The four movements depict the choleric, phlegmatic, melancholic and sanguine temperaments, which correspond to the old notion of the four bodily humors: yellow bile, phlegm, black bile and blood. The idea appealed to Nielsen because he wanted to try his hand at depicting various personalities in music. The first movement is impetuous and straightforward but not without its moments of tenderness. The second is a slow march. Nielsen said he had in mind a young man in his late teens who was idle, a bit of a trial to his parents and teachers, who takes long lazy walks in the countryside. The third movement depicts a man of deeply depressive nature who has had to make courageous decisions in his lifetime and has ended up disillusioned, the latter depicted by a repetitive descending fourth. The fourth movement pictures an unreflectively optimistic man who expects all will go his way and who, in Nielsen biographer Robert Simpson's words, is 'full of rude vigor and gusty laughter.' As in the first issue in this series, one senses that this Danish orchestra, which has a long performing history with these symphonies, is completely in tune with Nielsen's style.

Symphony No. 3, subtitled 'Espansiva', was given its premiere in 1911 by the forerunner of the present orchestra. Its premiere was quickly followed by performances throughout Europe and led to somewhat specious comparisons between the 'grim' Sibelius and the 'genial' Nielsen. The symphony is indeed expansive, reflecting, some might feel, the generous and hospitable nature of the Danish people. The first movement begins with an explosion of rhythmically irregular tutti chords that lead directly into the jubilant arched main theme. The movement, a great symphonic waltz, is notable for its restless modulations through what Simpson calls 'rising terraces of keys,' an increasing familiar characteristic of Nielsen's mature music. The second movement, Andante pastorale, takes us to the gently rolling Danish hills in summer and contains dreamy vocalises for solo soprano and baritone, here nicely sung by Inger Dam-Jensen and Poul Elming. The third movement is a rather gray scherzo of vaguely indeterminate key, a bit of a protest, Nielsen said, against the typical Danish characteristic of 'smoothing over'. The finale is described by Nielsen as 'a hymn to work and the healthy enjoyment of everyday life'. It is a rondo whose broad main theme is a 'thumping honest tune' (Simpson) repeatedly interrupted by bustling themes, often treated contrapuntally, or by plaintive wind chants. The symphony concludes on a triumphant peroration of the main theme, as if to say that whatever life's trials all comes out right in the end.

These are magnificent performances of two magnificent symphonies. At this budget price one can hardly resist them.

Scott Morrison
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reissue of exubrant performances that lead the pack among budget Nielsen CDs 5 Nov. 2008
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Carl Nielsen had a brief heyday outside Denmark in the Sixties when Leonard Bernstein made a landmark recording of Sym. #3 'Espansiva.' The technical abilities of the Royal Danish Orch. that he conducted (a more raw version of the orchestra heard here) were limited, but Bernstein was thrilling and big-hearted. In this reissue of a well received symphony cycle from 1999-2001, Schonwandt takes down the emotions and scales back the ambition, but he leads a convincing performance with plenty of high energy. This is a budget front runner, far more passioante than Herbert Blomstedt in either of his accounts on EMI and Decca. The recording is clear and detailed; te orchestra plays very well. The rapt vocalises in the pastoral second movement are kept at a distance and are overshadowed by the orchstra -- soloists Dam-Jensen and Poul Elming make a nice impresison but little more.

I've never been fully convinced by Sym. #2 "The Four Temperaments," feeling that mature Nielsen takes off with the "Espansiva." Schonwandt avoids the rambunctious roughness that others have fallen into, while maintaining the right energy level in the first movement. He never fails to keep the line moving in all four movements, and although Nielsen's ambitions exceeded his symphonic abilities at this point, this is a committed performance, one of the best in the catalog at any price.

In all, this is a gem among budget Nielsen recordings, even if the Third doesn't erase memories of Bernstein at his most joyous.
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