NIELSEN: Symphony No.1; Saul and David: Prelude to Act 2 – London Symphony Orchestra /Andre Previn – Pristine 96K/24bit DVD-R (also available as Gold CD-R, HQCD CD, and both 96K/24 & 192K/24 FLAC downloads online), 40:45 [www.pristineclassical.com] ****:
The young Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) wrote his first symphony during 1891 and 1892, and its first performance took place in Copenhagen in 1894. Nielsen was a violinist in the Royal Danish Orchestra and was playing in the seconds for the première under Johan Svendsen.
Much of Nielsen’s work bursts forth with energy and this highly accomplished first symphony is no exception. It also betrays some of the fingerprints and flavours of his later works. Described as in the key of G minor, the symphony certainly opens in that key but Nielsen’s use of progressive tonality has C major as important a foundation; indeed, the composer did think of naming the work his Symphony in C. It’s this ground-breaking composition technique which puts Nielsen’s work firmly in the 20th century.
It is good to welcome back Andre Previn’s account from his early days with the LSO back to the catalogue. It is otherwise available on CD only as an expensive import from Japan so HDTT’s expert mastering from an RCA LP (LSC-2961) fills a worthwhile gap. Previn’s account is suitably energetic in the outer movements, though the Andante second movement is perhaps a little too lovingly done. The brief prelude to Act 2 of Saul and David is stirring and makes a fine encore if you programme it last, as it appeared on its original LP release.
Dating from 1967 and engineered expertly by Kenneth Wilkinson the recording is all you would expert from that source, and the 24/96 or 24/192 transfers will recreate the LP listening pleasure without its accompanying pops and clicks. For my auditions I downloaded the 24/96 files and burned them to DVD, using HD-Audio Solo Ultra (for further information see cirlinca.com) to make a DVD-Audio disc directly from the FLAC files. The same software will burn a music DVD (DAD) instead if your player isn’t set up for DVD-A. Compared with the sound on the RCA Navigator CD, itself a very good transfer I think, the 24/96 files produce more body and a smoother top end. [Agreed: 96/24 is a perfect stereo hi-res format. Those of us long in the tooth don’t need 192/24…Ed.]
Very well worth sampling.