Nielsen: Aladdin Suite, Etc / Willen, Et Al

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Carl Nielsen's "other" orchestral music includes a number of overtures and tone poems that on recordings usually show up appended to performances of his six symphonies. This primarily theatrical music reveals a surprisingly fantastical side to the composer's imagination, freed from the strictures of symphonic form. This is especially evident in the Aladdin Suite, where Nielsen concocts some fetching and convincingly authentic-sounding Arabian melodies, all lavished with exotic orchestral coloring. Dance rhythms abound, punctuated by spiky percussion. Niklás Willén and his South Jutland Symphony players effectively capture the distinctly-drawn moods of widely varied movements, though Esa-Pekka Salonen's Sony recording bristles with an energy and excitement (especially in the Festival March and Negro Dance) that's less apparent here.

Atmosphere again is Willén's strong suit as he evokes the mystical realms of Saga-Dream and Pan and Syrinx while deftly rendering the Helios Overture's stirring drama. Maskarade's bright comedy comes across effectively (though Järvi is unmatched for sheer exuberance). Finally, the brief Cupid and the Poet is from Nielsen's late style, sounding very much like his quirky and tonally ambiguous Clarinet Concerto. Overall, this is a fine set of performances, and it's great to have all these Nielsen gems together on one disc. Naxos' big-hall perspective is somewhat distant, but the sound-picture fills out nicely at those big, brassy climaxes.
--Victor Carr Jr,

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: 8557164

  • UPC: 747313216420

  • Label: Naxos

  • Composer: Carl Nielsen

  • Conductor: Niklas Willén

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: South Jutland Symphony Orchestra