Carl Nielsen: Koncerter
18 June 2015
David's Review Corner
David DentonThe innocent ear would have difficulty in recognising
that the three concertos, so different in content, length and stylistic period, all came from the same composer. The most extensive, the Violin Concerto, dates from 1912 when Carl Nielsen was already forty-seven, though its roots were firmly embedded in the previous late-Romantic era, its melodic language and song-like beauty at odds with all that was happening in the musical world around him. Related in essence to the Sibelius concerto composed nine years earlier, it is strange that it has not enjoyed the same success in the concert hall, as it has all of the ingredients that attracts audiences. On disc it has received some stunning performances
, this one from Nikolaj Znaider oozing with virtuosity, its ‘live’ recording status adding a music-enriching spontaneity, while his famous Guarnerius violin sings with such radiance in the slow movement. At around thirty-six minutes it is twice as long as the two-movement Flute Concerto from 1926, the violin concerto’s tonality here giving way to a much more pungent and French skittishness as the flute dances around the dramatic orchestral writing. Completed two years later, the Clarinet Concerto is certainly Nielsen’s odd-ball score
that still sounds very modern, the music flying off unexpectedly in all directions. Here the conductor, Alan Gilbert, is more successful than most in bringing its many disparate moods together without resorting to exaggeration in tempi or dynamics. The soloists in both concertos—Robert Langevin and Anthony McGill—are the New York Philharmonic’s outstanding section principals. Recorded in New York’s Avery Fisher Hall in 2012 and 2015, the sound is outstanding in its clarity, balance and impact. A remarkable conclusion to the orchestra’s Nielsen symphonic cycle.