NIELSEN: Orchestral Works
AARHUS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Members of the Jutland Opera Chorus
"Despite the fact that the incidental music from Aladdin is often recorded, conductor Lance Freidel includes the chorus from movements five and six, ‘The Marketplace at Ispahan’ and ‘Negroes Dance’. The suite is not often heard with the original forces present, and it is very nice to have it here. The Aarhus Symphony Orchestra...plays with a powerhouse sound and some beautifully executed string work...they are completely professional and superbly attuned to their native idiom...the present release...is guaranteed to give any purchaser much pleasure."
Audiophile Audition - March 2007
"An attractively generous compilation of Nielsen’s shorter works...it offers 80 minutes of music, including...Pan and Syrinx (with fine contributions from the cor anglais and clarinet soloists) and the sparkling Bohemian-Danish Folk Tune...performances are vivid and attractively atmospheric, and the Aladdin Suite includes a chorus who make a sudden surprise entry in The Marketplace at Ispahan and add to the gusto of the finale."
Penguin Guide, Yearbook 2006-2007
"[The Maskarade Overture shows off] to positive effect the excellent Aarhus Symphony Orchestra under its American conductor Lance Friedel...the new performances, featuring excellent digital sound, possess all the eloquence and atmosphere that the music requires...this is a generously compiled and satisfying anthology."
International Record Review - June 2006
"...a generous program...well played and very well recorded"
Turok's Choice - Issue 177, May 2006
"These particular performances are the most effective I've ever heard in the quiet details and mysterious moods in Helios and the other works on the disk...Given the brilliant digital sound, there could hardly be a better introduction to Nielsen's most popular works than this disk... ["At the Bier of a Young Artist"] loses nothing in being transcribed for string orchestra and gains much poignancy by the superbly affecting performance given here by the Aarhus SO"
MusicWeb International, March 2006
"The Aarhus Symphony Orchestra have a lean, tonal sheen, agile strings and personality-plus woodwinds...crackling energy...Friedel and his players are clearly in tune with the bluff confidence of [Maskarade's] opening theme...asrtfully moulded with inexorable strength...suitably atmospheric...wonderfully vivid wind playing...fine brassy swagger...great panache...the recording provides the proper atmosphere for Nielsen's nature painting, adding to the pleasures of these exemplary, idiomatic performances."
The Gramophone - March 2006
"...Friedel's program is generous...Friedel gets the balance right [between orchestra and chorus in the Aladdin Suite]...has a lot to offer and will bring great enjoyment"
American Record Guide - January/February 2006
"...Friedel gives the Nielsenian sun its proper arc across the sky...laudable attention to accents and phrasing...Friedel brings the visual image to musical life...Friedel is consistently nuanced...Friedel is alive to these matters, and his Aarhus musicians ...enthusiastic to the task...[a] superior performance by Friedel and the Aarhus SO...a strong recommendation is a foregone conclusion."
Fanfare - January/February 2006
"...the Nielsen disc from MSR is a prize, not only as recorded in the Fricksparken at Aarhus...but as conducted by young Lance Friedel in interpretations that quite surpass Thomas Dausgaard, current PC of the Danish State Radio Orchestra. It’s the most complete collection of Nielsen’s non-symphonic music for orchestra since the ‘60s, on a par ...with Herbert Blomstedt’s San Francisco recordings for Decca, and even more sonorously recorded. It’s been too long since we’ve heard...performances of this caliber...there is a vivacious Maskarade Overture, and the best Aladdin Suite – yes, with the essential chorus in fifth and final movements – since Blomstedt’s in SF, and at moments even more ebullient. Bravo MSR Classics – more, more!"
Roger Dettmer, ClassicalCDReview.com, December 2005
"American Lance Friedel, conducting an excellent Aarhus Symphony Orchestra from Denmark, makes an impressive debut...the performances are so beautifully paced by Friedel and so smoothly played by the orchestra, time seems to pass deceptively quickly. At the end the listener is ready to encore the program. The string sound...is rich and lush in the present recording. A nicely detailed recording..."
Atlanta Audio Society - November 2005
Artistic Quality: 8 / Sound Quality: 9
"This disc offers a convenient way to collect almost all of Carl Nielsen's shorter orchestral works--a touch more than 80 minutes' worth, in what for the most part are very good performances. Certainly the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra knows the music, as does conductor Lance Friedel. His approach is always musical, lively, and intelligent, especially in the Aladdin Suite (here with its wordless chorus), which has plenty of freshness married to a vivid recording that captures the winds and percussion particularly well. The Rhapsodic Overture--An Imaginary Journey to the Faroe Islands also stands out as particularly characterful. ...you really can't go wrong with this generously filled collection."
David Hurwitz, Classics Today - October 2005
"It does indeed fill a much-needed gap, but it's considerably more than that: terrific music, superbly recorded and thrillingly played. ...it's a wonderful debut album; I eagerly look forward to more."
Jim Svejda, KUSC-FM - November 2005
Debut recording of American conductor Lance Friedel, at the helm of one of Denmark's finest orchestras. More than 80 minutes in length, this disc is an excellent introduction to some of Nielsen’s most colorful music. The brilliant, authoritative performances are presented in stunning digital sound
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American Conductor Lance Friedel is currently enjoying an active career in Europe and the USA . He has served as Music Director of the Providence Chamber Orchestra in Rhode Island and as a frequent guest conductor of numerous orchestras throughout the world. Mr. Friedel was awarded first prize at the 2001 Mario Gusella International Conductors Competition in Pescara, Italy. As a result of this prestigious prize, he has been engaged to conduct concerts with orchestras throughout Italy, as well as in Hungary. In 1994 Mr. Friedel was the first-prize winner at the Czech Music Workshop, and was invited to conduct the Hradec Králové Philharmonic Orchestra the following season. In 1995 and 1996, Mr. Friedel was awarded first prize at the Marienbad Conducting Workshop, and was invited to conduct concerts with the West Bohemian Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Friedel has attended master classes under such esteemed maestros as Leonard Slatkin, Andre Previn, and Lorin Maazel, and has attended numerous workshops and seminars, including the Mozarteum Summer Academy in Salzburg, the Aspen Music Festival, and Tanglewood. His conducting teachers have included Gustav Meier, Michael Charry, and Georg Tintner. A graduate of Boston University, Mr. Friedel has also studied at Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna, and the Mannes College of Music in New York.
The Aarhus Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1935, and performs the whole classical repertoire, including choral works, while also enthusiastically supporting contemporary music and has commissioned works by Danish composers. It has co-operated with The Royal Danish Ballet, the MBT Dance Theatre and the Leipzig Ballet. The ASO has a permanent co-operation with The Danish National Opera (Den Jyske Opera), and has since 1983 attracted international acclaim at the annual Festival in Aarhus , which has included Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung, and Strauss’ Elektra. The orchestra’s first Chief Conductor was Thomas Jensen. Ole Schmidt was Chief Conductor 1978-85, Norman Del Mar 1985-88, Eri Klas 1991-96 and James Loughran 1996-2003. Giancarlo Andretta was appointed Chief Conductor in 2003.
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Carl Nielsen has become a standard bearer for Danish art and culture throughout the world. His music is intensely personal, extremely well crafted, and boldly colorful. Nielsen’s shorter works for orchestra have not attained the notoriety of his symphonies, but are nonetheless rewarding pieces. They perhaps show a more subjective side of the composer, highlighting his ability to create individual tone-pictures of great beauty and atmosphere.
The rollicking overture to his comic opera Maskarade (1906) has become Nielsen’s best-known work. Its bubbling high spirits are in the tradition of curtain-raisers from Mozart’s Figaro to Bernstein’s Candide.
The brief Andante lamentoso (1910), titled At the Bier of a Young Artist, is a moving elegy for strings, remarkable for its restraint and depth of emotion.
The Helios Overture (1903) is a vividly picturesque symphonic poem in the manner of Mendelssohn’s Hebrides . The composer provided the following description: “Silence and darkness—then the sun rises with a joyous song of praise—it wanders its golden way—and sinks quietly into the sea.”
The tone poem Saga-Drøm (1908), based on a story from the Nordic epic Njal’s Saga, is dark and majestic, shrouded in Northern mists. The central section is gorgeously evocative nature music, with rippling streams and bird calls. The chorale returns, leading to a climax before gradually dying away.
Pan and Syrinx (1918) is based on a story from Ovid’s Metamorphoses: “The goat-footed sylvan deity Pan happens to spy the nymph Syrinx among the satyrs and dryads in the hilly Arcadian forests; he persecutes her with his dances and bleating homage. She, terrified by this fierce wooer, flees to the edge of a forest lake. From here there is no escape open to her, and the gods, taking pity on her, transform her into a reed.”
The Rhapsodic Overture (1927) gives us a picture of An Imaginary Journey to the Faroe Islands. It begins with hushed intensity and mystery, punctuated by the sound of distant fanfares and shrieking sea birds. Finally the music erupts into a happy and brilliantly orchestrated folk dance.
The Bohemian-Danish Folk Tune (1928) makes use of an old Danish folk song, first played by a solo quartet, which then alternates with the full string orchestra. The work ends with a tremendous richness of sound.
The Aladdin Suite (1919) is one of Nielsen’s most colorful and exciting works. It consists of an imposing Oriental March, followed by an ethereal Dance of the Morning Mists, a sensuous Hindu Dance, a delicate Chinese Dance, a starkly menacing Dance of the Prisoners, and a wildly orgiastic concluding Negroes’ Dance. The most remarkable movement, though, is The Marketplace at Ispahan, where the lively confusion of an Arabian bazaar is represented by the orchestra, divided into four separate groups, playing music in different keys and tempos simultaneously.
Throughout the suite Nielsen evokes the exotic sound world of the Middle East by the use of modal harmonies, unusual melodic intervals, and short, repetitive rhythmic phrases. The orchestration projects the kaleidoscopic brilliance of the music through the addition of “Turkish” percussion instruments, and, in two of the movements, a wordless chorus.
Overture to Maskarade, FS 39
At the Bier of a Young Artist, FS 58
Helios Overture, FS 32
Saga-Drøm, Op.39, FS 46
Pan and Syrinx, Op.49, FS 87
An Imaginary Journey to the Faroe Islands (Rhapsodic Overture), FS 123
Bohemian-Danish Folk Tune, FS 130
Suite from the incidental music to Aladdin, FS 89