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Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931)
Symphony No.4, Op.29 Inextinguishable [34:02]
Symphony No.5, Op.50 [35:43]
London Symphony Orchestra/Ole Schmidt
ADD stereo, 1974
ALTO ALC 1236 [69:45]


 
This pairing was last issued under the Regis imprint when it swept the board. It derives from the Bob Auger/Bob Simpson project which first emerged in a single vinyl boxed set from Unicorn on KPM 7001-3. The whole set has at various times been issued on CD and has invariably been eulogised just as it deserves (review review). It first came out on CD on Unicorn-Kanchana UKCD 2000-2002. Initially this set came with a spoken introduction to and analysis of each of the symphonies.
 
These analogue sessions are quite simply magnificent and I am hard put to criticise the sound and the artistic approach, even now, some four decades later. If you are interested in the present two symphonies then there is no real reason for you to go looking elsewhere.
 
The heavenly bodies must have been in a perfect alignment during those Auger sessions because the sound is natural yet virile. I say this whether the score is at full tilt or is quietly rhapsodising as in the second movement of the Fourth. Tension is tightly sustained in the opening of the Fifth Symphony. As I have said previously, the Fifth is humanity to the Fourth's nature and it is given a wonderful outing by Schmidt. Listen to how well he terraces the dynamic contours and echoing terrain in the first movement! In the radiant adagio the horns bell out in unblushing glory (tr. 6 2:20). The imprecations of the side-drum are rapped out in all their finally impotent malevolence.
 
It’s such a pity that we did not get more from the fiery Schmidt – parallels here with another awkward cuss conductor wisely favoured by Alto’s sister label, Musical Concepts: Wyn Morris in his Beethoven cycle. Schmidt can be heard inexpensively on Regis in truly inspiriting accounts of Borodin 2 and Sibelius 5 (also Alto). Not to be missed – do not be put off by the low price. Only Chung on Bis comes anywhere near when it comes to Nielsen.
 
The liner-note is a fine thing with a useful article on Ole Schmidt (1928-2010) and the music is profiled with David Dougherty having re-edited the original Regis essay.
 

Rob Barnett