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Carl Nielsen
1. Helios Overture, Op. 17

Symphony No. 3 (Sinfonia espansiva), Op. 27
2. I. Allegro espansivo
3. II. Andante pastorale
4. III. Allegretto un poco
5. IV. Finale: Allegro

Symphony No. 4, Op. 29 ‘The Inextinguishable’
6. Allegro –
7. Poco allegretto
8. Poco adagio quasi andante –
9. Allegro

CD 2

Jean Sibelius
Symphony No. 3 in C major, Op. 52
1. I. Allegro moderato
2. II. Andantino con moto, quasi allegretto
3. III. Moderato – Allegro (ma non troppo)

Niels Viggo Bentzon
4. Mutations, Op. 123

Symphony No. 4, Op. 55 ‘Metamorfoser’
5. I. Vivace – Moderato non troppo – Allegro
6. II. Tempo di largamento
7. III. Allegro ma non troppo

Thomas Jensen Legacy, Vol. 6 ©
By Martin Granau/Peter Quantrill

This compilation offers a contrast between the Third and Fourth symphonies of Carl Nielsen with the Third and Fourth of Jean Sibelius and Niels Viggo Bentzon respectively. There is a sharp divide in Nielsen’s output between these two works, much as commentators have often found between the Second and Third symphonies of Beethoven and Sibelius before him, where the composer crosses over a private Rubicon between the summit of his achievement as a Romantic composer and the point of departure for new musical worlds, the epic confrontation of the Fifth Symphony and surrealist masquerade of the Sixth.

CD 1 begins with the concert overture Helios which Nielsen composed in Athens in 1904. His wife, the sculptor Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen, had been awarded a scholarship to study ancient Greek art in situ. The overture depicts the rise and fall of the sun over the Aegean Sea. From darkness through a sliver of light to its emergence in full majesty, sunrise is evoked with uncanny power by the overture’s introduction. The main body describes its passage across the sky with a striding theme which rises to a brassy apotheosis and then an athletic string fugato, but the stroke of dramatic genius arrives with the quiet close of sunset and the reprise of the opening darkness: a summary anticipation of the form of the Alpine Symphony which Richard Strauss composed 12 years later.

The orchestra of Det Kongelige Kapel (The Royal Chapel) gave the premiere of Helios in October 1903 under the baton of Johan Svendsen, to a rapturous popular reception and more muted critical one: ‘It is the unfortunate shortcoming for a piece themed about the sun,’ wrote one reviewer, ‘that it does not shine and does not warm’. This is one of the first commercial recordings of the work, made by Jensen and the DRSO in September 1942 for the Danish Odeon label.

In 1908 Nielsen succeeded Svendsen as second kapelmester at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, and his compositional output suffered accordingly. Until he went freelance in 1914 he completed no further orchestral works of substance; he began to sketch the Third Symphony in 1910, but the work took shape slowly. Inspiration for the opening came suddenly to Nielsen on a tram. Having no paper to hand, he wrote down the idea on his shirt-sleeve.

The opening theme itself – an accelerating repetition of A, opening out into a D minor triad – initiates a resilient melody that extends far into the movement. By contrast, the second theme shares a placid quality with the second movement of the Four Temperaments Symphony: something of an autobiographical character study, perhaps, from a composer familiar with both surges of inspiration and lapses into indolence.

RELEASE DATE: October 2021

CATALOGUE NUMBER: DACOCD 916

EAN: 5709499916001