It is good to see the Hallé Orchestra return to Nielsen after they were so much in vogue with that composer during Sir John Barbirolli's lifetime. Mark Elder has the credentials to bring the best out of this work and I was looking forward to appraising the performance after Osmo Vanska's disappointing foray on BIS.
And indeed I was not in the least let down by Elder! He manages to shape the opening sequence with heart throbbing mysteria very much similar to Jensen's unrivalled 1954 account for Decca which still remains my prime recommendation in this symphony. The Adagio non troppo is also beautifully played and extremely well paced with the Hallé clarinet truly marvellous.
In the Finale, Elder negotiates that clammy and murky cave of intertwined movements with alacrity and his version can now be confidently recommended as one of the best available in the current catalogue. Nicholson's Flue Concerto is also one of the best around and he competes quite favourably with Holger Gilbert Jesperson and Jensen on an old Decca LP (reissued on Dutton CDLXT5002, deleted) which still remains the best version.
This new disc also creates a première recording with the exquisite Entrance March from the Incidental Music to 'Aladdin' that is also an added incentive to purchase this disc. This is a most auspicious start for Elder's association with Nielsen. May we hope for an 'Inextinguishable' next?
Copyright © 2003, Gerald Fenech