Magazine article Gramophone

Davis's Nielsen Cycle with the LSO Concludes

Magazine article Gramophone

Davis's Nielsen Cycle with the LSO Concludes

Article excerpt


Symphonies--No 2, 'The Four Temperaments', Op 16 FS29 (a); No 3, 'Sinfonia espansiva', Op 27 FS60

(a) Lucy Hall sop (a) Marcus Farnsworth bar London Symphony Orchestra/Sir Colin Davis

LSO Live (M) (SACD) LSO0722 (67' * DDD/DSD) Recorded live at the Barbican, London, December 2011

It's Colin Davis's rotten bad luck that his versions of Carl Nielsen's Second and Third symphonies should appear only a few months after Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic released the same programme on Dacapo. Gilbert's raw-boned, architecturally smart, assertively played performances of Nielsen's Four Temperaments and Sinfonia espansiva is everything that Davis's performances are not, but need to be. I happened to be at one of the live Barbican performances out of which LSO Live culled this CD and that night the LSO were on shocking form: internal meandering, flabby attack and untidy ensemble ruled. Perhaps the takes used on this disc came from other concerts in the series, as these problems are largely absent on CD; but the tone remains tentative and grimly determined--dogged professionalism allowed to wing it in interpretations that, every instinct says, needed far longer to mature.

Sinfonia espansiva is undermined terminally by Davis's clipped, middle-ground tempi. Gilbert has Nielsen's Allegretto skip spryly out of the bucolic dream of the Andante pastorale that preceded it; under Davis the same Allegretto maintains, rather than chemically alters, the mood. The finale is, ditto, oddly lacking in poetic incentive; the valedictory chorale sounds clubbable enough but the clue is in the title. …

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