I’m beginning to really mistrust comparisons. People compare Mahler to Bruckner and Strauss. Except for speaking German and composing for big orchestras making big sounds— Their musical languages are quite different. This is why I’ve had trouble warming up to Nielsen in the past. Too many people have compared Nielsen to Sibelius. I love Sibelius and I have multiple sets of the Sibelius symphonies. But I’d put on some Nielsen from time to time, and wonder why it didn’t sound like Sibelius. Now thanks to this DSD discovery I’m beginning to hear what I’ve been missing. Sir Colin Davis with the London Symphony Orchestra rings my bell with Nielsen’s Fifth Symphony! The Fifth is coupled with the Fourth on an excellent LSO album. The Fifth is what drew me in, but I’m beginning to enjoy the Fourth as well. If you are an old hand with Nielsen, I’m confident that you will enjoy these, done so well by Sir Colin and the LSO. If you are new to Nielsen, or trying to figure him out, this is a wonderful place to start. Oh— I still don’t think he sounds a bit like Sibelius.
Speaking of Richard Strauss– How about some Strauss that is delicate? No, I’m not kidding. Not Zarathustra, not Elektra– but lovely, Delicate Strauss. That’s the name of the album from the Hermitage Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Oboist Alexei Utkin. Strauss lived a long time,1864 to 1949. The music here includes a Romance from 1879, and the absolutely delightful Oboe Concerto in D Major from 1945. If you are looking for some quite lovely and quite unexpected music, take a listen:
By the way, the same excellent forces on the same label have another major delight: Britten- Works for Oboe. Even If you don’t know Oboes from your elbows, you will find some wonderful listening here:
Finally— while I’m still on the subject of elbows –just kidding, I mean oboes, If someone were to suggest some oboe sonatas, you might assume that’s music for watching paint dry. Not so with this album of French Oboe Sonatas. Music from Poulenc, Dutilleux, Saint-Saens and others is performed with skill and enthusiasm by Joris van den Hauwe, oboe, Dalia Ouziel, piano, and Etienne Broudreault on bassoon. And you’ll love the way it’s recorded: