Author Topic: Carl Nielsen  (Read 74235 times)

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Offline BachQ

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Carl Nielsen
« on: April 12, 2007, 10:10:00 AM »


Danish composer Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) is perhaps best known for his cycle of six symphonies; other well-known compositions include his incidental music for Aladdin, the operas Saul og David and Maskarade, the concerti for flute, violin and for clarinet, the wind quintet, and the Helios Overture.  My favorite works are his 4th Symphony in d minor and his Helios Overture.



Links:

CLICK: This is a web adaptation of a travelling exhibition originally produced  by Danish Music Information Centre 

CLICK: Chronology Work Catalog
« Last Edit: February 08, 2008, 08:49:59 AM by Dm »

Offline BachQ

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Re: The Nielsen Nook
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2007, 10:11:53 AM »
Here’s what Dave (MaestroDJS) has to say:


*** In August 1977 Rose Records in Chicago promoted a special offer on the Seraphim LP sets of the complete symphonies and concerti by the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra with Herbert Blomstedt.  *** Each of the 6 symphonies and the 3 concerti had a very different personality, but all bore the stamp of a very individual and striking composer. Blomstedt included several other short orchestral works in his set, most importantly the utterly magnificent and radiantly arch-like Helios Overture, which Nielsen composed while on holiday in Athens, Greece in 1903.  Nielsen wrote of this score: "Silence and darkness -- then the Sun rises with a joyous song of praise -- it wanders its golden way -- and sinks quietly into the sea."

Some facets of the 6 symphonies which immediately impressed themselves on my mind were:

Symphony No. 1 in G Minor (1892):  The surprising C Major chord which begins the work but is immediately pushed aside by the G Minor tonality.  Brahms praised this work.

Symphony No. 2 "The 4 Temperaments" (1902):  The sheer brute strength of the entire first movement.  The choleric temperament roars with rage but also shows streaks of tenderness.  The symphony derives its subtitle from a series of portraits Nielsen had seen in a pub in Zeeland, and he dedicated this work to Ferruccio Busoni.

Symphony No. 3 "Sinfonia espansiva" (1911):  The energetic minor tonality of the first movement which suddenly gives way to major key final chords; then the hauntingly glowing and hazily shifting tonalities of the slow movement.

Symphony No. 4 "The Inextinguishable" (1916):  The relentless forward momentum of the entire work which never stops, even in the slow movements.  The dueling pairs of timpani in the finale are unforgettable and lead to a rousing conclusion.

Symphony No. 5 (1922):  The gentle 2-note viola ostinato upon which the music raises its musical arguments.

Symphony No. 6 "Sinfonia semplice" (1925):  The almost comic simplicity which begins the work but which evolves into some of the most heart-rending tragedy in music.  In few other pieces of music are high comedy and bleak tragedy so intimately interwoven.

Incidentally, in the late 1970s one of the biggest rock hits was We Will Rock You by Queen.  It often blasted forth from dorms, frat houses and apartments around the university.  Boom-boom-clap!  Boom-boom-clap!  Well, those drums were insignificant compared to the cataclysmic pairs of timpani in the finale of Nielsen's Symphony No. 4.  With my stereo cranked up to eleven, it was well and truly The Inextinguishable.  We are the champions, my friends.

Recently I wrote about the underrated Jean Martinon, who made some outstanding recordings during his tenure as conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1963 to 1968.  At that time, Morton Gould also made some superb recordings as guest conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, most notably of music by Charles Ives.  In 1966 Gould also recorded Nielsen's Symphony No. 2 "The 4 Temperaments" and Clarinet Concerto with soloist Benny Goodman.  Gould was primarily a composer, so it was a pleasant surprise to encounter him in Nielsen.  The symphony is given an exciting performance.  Goodman is best remembered as a jazz performer, but he recorded many classical clarinet works throughout his career, such as Mozart, Weber, Bartók, Stravinsky, Copland etc.  His versatility is outstanding in the Nielsen concerto.  A few years ago I found this vintage LP at 2nd-Hand Tunes on Clark Street in Chicago, along with Gould's Ives recordings.  Also in 1966, Jean Martinon recorded Symphony No. 4 "The Inextinguishable" and Helios Overture with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, but I have not heard these performances.

Carl Nielsen is unquestionably and inextinguishably one of the peaks of my record collection.  I also owe to him most of the few Danish words I have learnt along the way, taken from his titles: "Ved en ung Kunstners Baare" (At the Bier of a Young Artist), "En Fantasirejse til Færøerne" (An Imaginary Trip to the Faroe Islands), and above all "Det Uudslukkelige" (The Inextinguishable).  These phrases will probably not prove useful on a visit to Denmark, but you never know.  To quote Nielsen himself: "Musik er Liv, som dette uudslukkelig." ("Music is life, and, like it, inextinguishable.")

Dave



springrite

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Re: The Nielsen Nook
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2007, 10:13:23 AM »
It is amazing how many composers in the 20th century, especially symphonists, are influenced by Nielsen. He is perhaps the most Beethovenian of later symphonist, and thus serve as a more ideal model than the more distant Beethoven, I guess.

My favorite Nielsen work is the wind quintet.

Offline BachQ

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Re: The Nielsen Nook
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2007, 10:16:41 AM »
Nielsen’s Boyhood Home




karlhenning

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Re: The Nielsen Nook
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2007, 10:18:22 AM »
I love Funen in the springtime . . . .

springrite

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Re: The Nielsen Nook
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2007, 10:19:33 AM »
If you think about it, Nielsen and his home actually look quite alike.

Offline BachQ

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Re: The Nielsen Nook
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2007, 04:14:03 AM »
Recently released: 

Nielsen, Chamber Works for Violin and Strings
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 1444   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Carl Nielsen
Performer:  Maria Asteriadou,  Georgios Demertzis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Hellenic Quartet
Recorded in: Stereo
Length: 1 Hours 9 Mins.


1.    Sonata for Violin and Piano in G, FS3b by Carl Nielsen
   Performer:  Maria Asteriadou (Piano), Georgios Demertzis (Violin) Written: 1881-2        
   
   
2.    Duet in A, FS3e by Carl Nielsen    
   Performer:  Georgios Demertzis (Violin) Written: 1882-3           
   
   
3.    Romance in D by Carl Nielsen    
   Performer:  Maria Asteriadou (Piano), Georgios Demertzis (Violin) Written: 1883           
   
   
4.    String Quartet in D minor, FS3d by Carl Nielsen    
   Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Hellenic Quartet Written: 1882-3           
   
   
5.    String Quartet in F, FS3k by Carl Nielsen    
   Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Hellenic Quartet Written: 1887           
   
   
6.    Andante Sostenuto, FS3c by Carl Nielsen    
   Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Hellenic Quartet Written: c1883-7           
   
   
7.    Scherzo, FS3c by Carl Nielsen    
   Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Hellenic Quartet Written: c1883-7           
   
   
8.    Romance, Op 2 by Carl Nielsen    
   Performer:  Maria Asteriadou (Piano), Georgios Demertzis (Violin) Written: 1889          


karlhenning

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Re: The Nielsen Nook
« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2007, 04:18:30 AM »
That looks yummy!

Offline BachQ

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Re: The Nielsen Nook
« Reply #8 on: May 17, 2007, 04:20:16 AM »
That looks yummy!

My eyes are on the String Quartet in D Minor . . . . . .  :D

Offline BachQ

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Re: The Nielsen Nook
« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2007, 04:20:44 AM »
Also recently released: 

Nielsen: Orchestral Music / Dausgaard, Danish National So
Label:  Dacapo   Catalog #: 6220518   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Carl Nielsen
Conductor:  Thomas Dausgaard
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Danish National Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1
Recorded in: Multi
Length: 1 Hours 12 Mins.


1.    Maskarade, FS 39: Overture by Carl Nielsen
   Conductor:  Thomas Dausgaard Orchestra/Ensemble:  Danish National Symphony Orchestra Written: 1906        
   
   
2.    Maskarade, FS 39: Dance of the Cockerels by Carl Nielsen    
   Conductor:  Thomas Dausgaard Orchestra/Ensemble:  Danish National Symphony Orchestra Period: 20th Century Written: 1904-1906; Denmark           
   
   
3.    Snefrid, FS 17: Suite by Carl Nielsen    
   Conductor:  Thomas Dausgaard Orchestra/Ensemble:  Danish National Symphony Orchestra Period: 20th Century Written: 1893; Denmark           
   
   
4.    An imaginary trip to the Faeroe Islands, FS 123 by Carl Nielsen    
   Conductor:  Thomas Dausgaard Orchestra/Ensemble:  Danish National Symphony Orchestra Period: 20th Century Written: 1927; Denmark           
   
   
5.    Pan and Syrinx, Op. 49 by Carl Nielsen    
   Conductor:  Thomas Dausgaard Orchestra/Ensemble:  Danish National Symphony Orchestra Period: 20th Century Written: 1917-1918; Denmark           
   
   
6.    Amor og Digteren, FS 150/Op. 54: Overture by Carl Nielsen    
   Conductor:  Thomas Dausgaard Orchestra/Ensemble:  Danish National Symphony Orchestra Period: 20th Century Written: 1930; Denmark           
   
   
7.    Helios Overture, FS 32/Op. 17 by Carl Nielsen    
   Conductor:  Thomas Dausgaard Orchestra/Ensemble:  Danish National Symphony Orchestra Period: 20th Century Written: 1903; Denmark          


Offline BachQ

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Re: The Nielsen Nook
« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2007, 04:22:45 AM »
Talk about a slam-dunk! This is without doubt the finest collection of Nielsen's short orchestral works currently available. It is perfectly played, brilliantly conducted, and superbly recorded in stereo and SACD formats. You won't hear a more ebullient performance of the Maskerade Overture anywhere. Thomas Dausgaard keeps the tension mounting right through the quiet central episode, and the coda is beyond exciting. The manic eruptions in both An Imaginary Journey to the Faroe Islands and Pan and Syrinx rage with uninhibited impact, but the poetry in the soft passages isn't ever slighted, particularly in the latter. The Prelude to Act 2 of Saul and David sounds suitably imposing, while a rousing, joyous account of the Helios Overture closes the program in the most satisfying and contented fashion imaginable.

What makes this disc even more satisfying is the presence of some very rare examples of Nielsen's extensive output of incidental music. Usually we only get to hear Aladdin, or very occasionally the overture to Love and the Poet (but not as well played as here). Willemoes is only a charming couple of minutes long, but the Snefrid Suite and the Hr. Oluf Hand Rider Prelude are more substantial. The former dates from the period of the First Symphony (early 1890s) and finds the composer discovering his personal voice, particularly in terms of harmony. The latter dates from the same period as Maskerade (around 1906), and it's a fully characteristic gem. In all of this music the playing of the orchestra reveals proprietary pride without a trace of complacency or routine. Everything sounds fresh and new, and if you don't love this disc, then--well, never mind. It's just plain irresistible. Might there be a sequel in the offing, with Aladdin, Saga-Drom, and the remaining shorter orchestral works? We can only hope.


--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com

Hector

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Re: The Nielsen Nook
« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2007, 06:25:55 AM »
Talk about a slam-dunk! This is without doubt the finest collection of Nielsen's short orchestral works currently available. It is perfectly played, brilliantly conducted, and superbly recorded in stereo and SACD formats. You won't hear a more ebullient performance of the Maskerade Overture anywhere. Thomas Dausgaard keeps the tension mounting right through the quiet central episode, and the coda is beyond exciting. The manic eruptions in both An Imaginary Journey to the Faroe Islands and Pan and Syrinx rage with uninhibited impact, but the poetry in the soft passages isn't ever slighted, particularly in the latter. The Prelude to Act 2 of Saul and David sounds suitably imposing, while a rousing, joyous account of the Helios Overture closes the program in the most satisfying and contented fashion imaginable.

What makes this disc even more satisfying is the presence of some very rare examples of Nielsen's extensive output of incidental music. Usually we only get to hear Aladdin, or very occasionally the overture to Love and the Poet (but not as well played as here). Willemoes is only a charming couple of minutes long, but the Snefrid Suite and the Hr. Oluf Hand Rider Prelude are more substantial. The former dates from the period of the First Symphony (early 1890s) and finds the composer discovering his personal voice, particularly in terms of harmony. The latter dates from the same period as Maskerade (around 1906), and it's a fully characteristic gem. In all of this music the playing of the orchestra reveals proprietary pride without a trace of complacency or routine. Everything sounds fresh and new, and if you don't love this disc, then--well, never mind. It's just plain irresistible. Might there be a sequel in the offing, with Aladdin, Saga-Drom, and the remaining shorter orchestral works? We can only hope.


--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com


He's right, for once. I bought this last month and can testify to its excellence.

Music new to disc given splendid performances by the composer's countrymen.

'Helios' never fails with me, anyway!

Offline BachQ

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Re: The Nielsen Nook
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2007, 04:01:29 AM »
'Helios' never fails with me, anyway!

Very true!

Offline BachQ

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Re: The Nielsen Nook
« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2007, 04:02:24 AM »
Carl August Nielsen (June 9, 1865 – October 3, 1931)  Happy Birthday, Old Chum

Online Christo

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Re: The Nielsen Nook
« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2007, 05:41:38 AM »
If you think about it, Nielsen and his home actually look quite alike.

… music is not only an `entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Joe Barron

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Re: The Nielsen Nook
« Reply #15 on: June 10, 2007, 08:12:27 AM »
Last night, in observance of Nielsen's 142nd birthday, I listened to the complete Maskerade. A delightful piece. Not nearly as powerful as his later symphonies, but full of charm and light comedy. (It dates from 1905, just after the Second Symphony.) From the liner notes, I learn that it was a huge popular success and quickly became Denmark's national opera, in part for the things it had to say --- palatably, of course --- about equality and freedom. The story brings Denmark, symbolically,  from the middle ages into the modern world. And Danish is such a lovely language for singing.

I don't know if the piece has vever been produced in the US. I once tries to interest the OPera COmany of Philadlpehia in it, but I don't think I got through.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: The Nielsen Nook
« Reply #16 on: June 12, 2007, 05:25:08 AM »
A great composer: I love Symphony 5  (espec. recordings by Tuxen, Jensen, Horenstein, Bernstein, Gibson and Kubelik).
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

karlhenning

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Re: The Nielsen Nook
« Reply #17 on: June 12, 2007, 05:31:49 AM »
Last night, in observance of Nielsen's 142nd birthday, I listened to the complete Maskerade. A delightful piece. Not nearly as powerful as his later symphonies, but full of charm and light comedy.

(* Beats the Maskarade drum *)

Offline Brewski

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Re: The Nielsen Nook
« Reply #18 on: June 15, 2007, 11:27:28 AM »
Today on his blog, Alex Ross has an absolutely wonderful Nielsen quote.

--Bruce
Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.
     ~ Gustav Mahler

Twitter: @brucehodgesny

karlhenning

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Re: The Nielsen Nook
« Reply #19 on: June 15, 2007, 11:42:28 AM »
Bruce!

:-)

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