\ Nielsen: The Mother / Bernstein conducts Haydn / Gordon Nikolic conducts Mozart symphonies

NIELSEN: The Mother, Op. 41 (A Play in a Prologue and Seven Scenes by Helge Rode.
Adam Riis, Palle Knudsen. Danish National Vocal Ensemble. Philharmonic Choir. Odense Symphony Orchestra / Andreas Delfs, cond.
DA CAPO 6.220648 TT: 71:27

HAYDN: Symphony No. 93 in D. Symphony No. 94 in G "Surprise.". Symphony No. 95 in C minor.
New York Philharmonic / Leonard Bernstein,cond.

MOZART: Sinfonia Concertante in E flat, KV 564. Symphony No 40 in G minor, K. 550.
Gordon Nikolic, violin / cond. Richard Wolfe, viola. Netherlands Chamber Orhestra
TACET SACD S 236 TT: 68:04

Here is an unusual addition to the Carl Nielsen discography: the first complete recording of his incidental music The Mother. This was written for a play by by Helge Rode, a gala celebrating the reunification of Southern Jutland with Denmark. The complete score didn't appear until 2007 and has never been recorded in its entirety. We hav e all of the music including the Danish national anthem as well as a curious use of the national anthems from the allied countries that, with their attacks on Germany, determined the fate of Southern Jutland. The Mother unites these diverse trends: the national interest, the popular song and the cooperation with the Royal Theatre, where Nielsen himself had begun his career as a violinist. There are 26 tracks opening with a lively March. There are brief solo vocal and choral excerpts. Throughout, the mood is good-natured and there seldom is a hint of Nielsen's later style Performances are exemplary. The recording was made in theCarl Nielsen Concert House in Odense January/February 2020, and the engineering is excellent . A 40-page booklet isprovided with porofuse program notes and complete texts and translations. This is an important addition to the Nielsen discographjy.

Leonard Bernstein always was intrigued by music of Franz Joseph Haydn. Later in his career he made many Haydn recordings with the Vienna Philharmonic for DGG including Symphonies 88, 91 and 94 (which also are available on video), along with several choral works. With the New York Philharmonic he recorded twelve of the later symphonies. Epoch already has released in quad his 1973 Concert for Peace performance in Washington's National Cathedral of the Mass in Time of War (REVIEW). On this new release we have three of Bernstein's earliest Haydn recordings: Symphonies 93 and 94 recorded December 1971 in Philharmonic Hall, and Symphony No. 93 recorded in Columbia's 30th Street studios February 1973. No period instruments here, but a small NYP rndrmble in these spirited performances. Audio is multi-channel, but the dry acoustics of both venues does not enhance orchestral textures. There are countless other recordings available in the quad library; this surely is one of the least impressive.Nothing special here, unfortunately.

Tacet's new Mozart SACD is winner in every way. The Netherlands Chamber Orchestra is a virtuoso ensemble and already they have made many superb recordings for the label, many reviewed on this site. Recently we praised their issue of Mozart's Symphonies 35 and 36 (REVIEW). Now we have another symphony, No. 40 in G minor along with the Sinfonia Concertante. Performances are first-rate and rich in textures led by Gordon Nikolic who has been music director of the NCO since 2004 The multi-channel audio could not be bettered. The listener is surrounded by the orchestra most effectively. The recording was made February 1 -3, 2017 in Amsterdam's Yakult Hall of the Nedpho Dome. First-class in every way1

R.E.B. (August 2020)