Nielsen: The Complete Symphonies

Reviewed on Fri 24 Jun, 2016

If Järvi isn’t as inspired as Vänskä (BIS) or as searching as Davis (LSO Live), what he lacks in consistency he makes up for in readings full of often combustible energy that finds fire in the belly of the Second and a bracing muscularity in the Sixth.

As a belated reminder of last year’s sesquicentennial anniversary of Nielsen’s birth, this complete symphony survey also serves as a reminder of Paavo Järvi’s six-year tenure with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony (whose strings, woodwind and percussion excel here). If Järvi isn’t as inspired as Vänskä (BIS) or as searching as Davis (LSO Live), what he lacks in consistency he makes up for in readings full of often combustible energy that finds fire in the belly of the Second and a bracing muscularity in the Sixth, even while the mounting drama culminating in the volcanic finale of the Fifth is in a lower gear than it needs to be. The First receives the set’s most tentative reading, Järvi feeling his way into Nielsen’s soundworld with conspicuous trepidation, the Third is markedly less expansive than its title intimates and the Fourth errs on the side of poetry rather than power. Even so, there is much to enjoy here in performances of conviction if not precision.
–Michael Quinn