CARL NIELSEN: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 3 – Lucy Hall, sop./ Marcus Farnsworth, bari./ London Symphony Orch./ Sir Colin Davis – LSO Live multichannel SACD LSO0722, 66:35 [Distr. by Naxos] *****:
This SACD (recorded in 2011 at London’s Barbican) completes the enlightened Nielsen symphony cycle of Sir Colin Davis and the LSO, and all on LSO Live discs. The disc with Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5 made Gramophone’s Editor’s Choice. A rather corny painting which purported to show the four temperaments of human personality: Choleric, Phlegmatic, Melancholic & Sanguine, inspired the work. Nielsen adopted the defining characters to each of the movements of the Second Symphony, attempting to realize a sonic depiction of emotion, which is subtitled “The Four Temperaments.”
The Symphony No. 3 is subtitled “Sinfonia Espansiva” and sounds the most Danish of his symphonies, as well as being considered perhaps his greatest symphonic work. The first movement has been dubbed a “cosmic waltz.” It’s spacious feeling and power is strengthened by the ecstatic entrance of the soprano and baritone soloists in the second movement. Its final movement embodies the ravishing Danish landscape. The sonics on both are up to the high standards of LSO Live SACDs. Individual solos come thru clearly and with great spatiality, and the orchestral climaxes are rich and clean, free of the compression effects frequently heard on standard CDs.