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Nielsen, Carl - Die Symphonien (3 DVDs)
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Carl Nielsen (1865-1931): Sämtliche Symphonien
Danish National Symphony Orchestra
Leitung: Michael Schoenwandt
Das Danish National Symphony Orchestra unter der Leitung von Michael Schonwandt legt mit dieser subtilen wie packenden Einspielung eine Referenzaufnahme sämtlicher 6 Sinfonien Nielsens im DVD-Format vor. Als Bonus liegt diesem ansprechend gestalteten Set eine DVD mit einem 60-minütigem Dokumentarfilm über Leben und Werk des Menschen und Komponisten Nielsens bei, die nach neuen musikwissenschaftlichen Erkenntnissen und interessanten, z.T. bisher unbekanntem Material neue Perspektiven über Dänemarks populärsten "National-Komponisten" eröffnet.
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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.
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.
the greatest performances of Nielsen, but still very good. You will kick
yourself if you do not investigate. Nielsen can be very energetic and thrilling as well as probing and tender. Try it; you'll like it!
If you like Beethoven, you'll enjoy Nielsen! He liked Beethoven, too.
Enjoy and grow!
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.