Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Len Mullenger:

OTTO NICOLAI (1810-1849) Norma Fantasy 16.41 * Symphony in D major  44.15  * Claudius Tanski (piano) Südwestfälische Philharmonie/David Stern MUSIK PRODUKTION DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM MDG 601 0832-2 Distributed in UK by Chandos [61.04]


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The short-lived Nicolai is better known for his operatic effort The Merry Wives of Windsor so it is good that MD&G are celebrating the less obvious. Of course neglect is sometimes justified. This turns out not to be the case here.

Joyous Beethovenian bravura from same bloodgroup as the Beethoven's Choral Fantasy (much under-rated) and the Third and Fourth piano concertos. There is also restraint and tenderness aplenty amidst all the coruscating notes. The dashing piano part is pressed forward and breasted by MD&G regular Claudius Tanski - a most convincing performance. The work is restless with excitement and rich in detail.

The Symphony is a lanky tense romantic effort with currents cross-cutting from Schumann (Symphonies 3 and 4) and Beethoven (Symphonies 5 and 7). The Adagio (II) is a steady reflective affair of Mozartian gravity and charm. Schumann is a definite presence in the scherzo (III) and here the nice sense of gradation and contrast evident throughout this production communicates strongly - a joy to hear. The blessed precision and control of the finale, chasseur horns, Coronation splendour and general sense of classic celebration are notable.

Two extremely rewarding and out-of-the-mainstream works done with style in every department and good notes to match.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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