After tackling almost all of Sibelius' complete orchestral music, Osmo Vänskä now turns his attention to Nielsen with this issue of the first coupling in a projected complete cycle. Immediately one notes that extra lavish care and affection have been poured onto these scores from the lengthy phrasing and beauteous sounds that the BBCSSO make. One also sees that Vänskä is pretty slow when compared to Bostock's contemporaneous account just issued a few months ago on Classico. However I do believe that this new release is superior to Bostock especially in the construction and shaping of the First Symphony, which is one of the best accounts I have heard for many years. The Andante is lovingly done whilst the faster moments are also ablaze with excitement and a sense of discovery. The 'Sinfonia Semplice' is similarly quite excellent, comparable to Jensen's authoritative account on Danacord or the equally fine Blomstedt on Decca. Vänskä's 'Proposta Seria' takes a full seven minutes while Douglas Bostock despatches the movement in just around 5'47, surely too swift in my opinion. The symphony also emerges as a great, almost magnificent work in Vänskä's hands with the orchestra playing magnificently. The BIS recording is top class and Knud Knetting's notes are indeed essential reading. This first release augurs well for the continuing Nielsen discography and I await further issues in Vänskä's cycle with eager anticipation.
Copyright © 2002, Gerald Fenech