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David McConnell
MusicWeb International, December 2012

This was, far and away, the best orchestral DVD to come across my desk this year. Dausgaard proves to be an intelligent and perceptive interpreter of all four works, while his Danish players perform with a contagious sense of joy and virtuosity. © 2012 MusicWeb International

Robert Markow
Fanfare, November 2012

Right from the opening moments [the Nielsen symphony] had…vigor and élan and determination…Rhythms were tight and crisp. The music bristled with enthusiasm and commitment. The finale positively beamed with Elgarian nobility and breadth, rising to an absolutely thrilling climax.

The “New World” Symphony receives one of the finest performances I have heard. Dausgaard’s approach is no romantic wallow but rather a clean, purposeful traversal filled with taut rhythms, precise attacks and releases, glowing sound, and architectural strength. Dausgaard likewise makes a strong case for the Sibelius Fifth, never allowing momentum to sag, carefully propelling the music forward with masterly control. I am particularly impressed with the ease in which he handles the tempo change for the second part of the first movement. By the time the grand climax of the finale arrives, one feels a great journey has been completed.

All…performances were recorded live in Copenhagen’s Koncerthuset in 2009. The personnel changes from symphony to symphony, but both principal horns, both principal trumpets, and both timpanists are star players. Generally the woodwinds are excellent…the basses…[have a] huge, rich sound, heard at its best at the quiet endings of three of the Brahms movements and in some of the more powerful moments of the Dvoƙák symphony. Aside from the basses, the orchestra plays with a bright sound, textures are clear and clean, balances are well controlled. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

David A. McConnell
MusicWeb International, October 2012

Whatever other new releases are in the pipeline this year, this will surely be one of my top recordings for 2012! This 2 DVD set proved enthralling, from the lightning-strike downbeat that begins Brahms’ First, to the massive chords that bring an end to Sibelius’ Fifth…this is an incredibly impressive set.

What these recordings do offer is music making of the highest order, led by a conductor who has clearly given a great deal of time and thought to learning these scores—all conducted from memory—and arriving at an understanding of what they are meant to convey. More impressive still, the orchestra seems to be of one mind with Dausgaard about how this music should go. Everyone seems to be working towards the same interpretation. That kind of outcome happens all too rarely. I hope it continues for many years to come. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Rob Cowan
Gramophone, September 2012

BRAHMS, J. / DVORAK, A. / SIBELIUS, J. / NIELSEN, C.: 4 Symphonies (Dausgaard) (NTSC) 710508
BRAHMS, J. / DVORAK, A. / SIBELIUS, J. / NIELSEN, C.: 4 Symphonies (Dausgaard) (Blu-ray, HD) 710604

Flying down from the gods to the stage in Copenhagen’s handsome Concert Hall is akin to a Harry Potter experience. The hall itself is variously tiered and acoustically generous. We’re whisked round from all angles, homing in on selected players, sometimes in such close detail that skin pigmentation is virtually as clear as the music.

OK, there are some nice faces to watch, some ‘characterful’ ones too. Thomas Dausgaard himself is energetic, impassioned, easy to read and obviously intent on providing as clear a musical picture as possible.

Brahms’s First Symphony opens swiftly, the timps relentless and cleanly focused, the strings evenly projected. Once into the main Allegro, Dausgaard keeps to a lively pulse, subtly pushing the tempo up to the exposition repeat and marking a slight ritardando into the recapitulation. Once on the home straight Dausgaard directs a thrilling performance, and both he and the orchestra are evidently pleased with themselves.

Nielsen’s Third is even more successful. The exuberant waltz-like first movement sweeps all before it, the fluently played second movement features well-balanced soloists and the finale, the highlight of the performance, has plenty of grit and impetus. Dausgaard’s Sibelius Fifth is superb, especially the first movement, which towards the end accelerates more excitingly than any I’ve heard in years. Tempo relations are thoughtfully negotiated and the tension doesn’t let up for a single moment. Nor does it in the New World Symphony, where the first movement’s second set has a winning lilt and the cor anglais solo in the Largo is beautifully played. The Scherzo has fire to spare…One gleans from what he says that music’s emotional climate is very important to him. But watching and listening confirms that, although he conducts from his heart, he has a strong intelligence guiding him. There aren’t too many conductors around today who balance those crucial values as successfully as he does. © 2012 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Bruce Surtees
The WholeNote, September 2012

This is an outstanding collection of four deservedly famous and favourite symphonies enjoying superlative performances in state-of-the-art, high definition sight and sound.

This is a sit up and take notice performance from the very beginning to the final movement, crowned with a radiant, jubilant finale, the like of which I’m unaware.

None of these performances is pedestrian and all four symphonies are approached with the same enthusiasm. The Dvořák has a wonderful bloom; broad and spacious and entirely as Dausgaard describes it. The Sibelius is an inspired performance. If you are not a Nielsen fan than this Third, the “Expansiva,” would be an excellent place to start. © 2012 The WholeNote Read complete review, July 2012

Fans of Dausgaard will no doubt appreciate hearing his insights into the music and the performers who bring it to vibrant life; indeed, the DVD as a whole is a fans-of-Dausgaard production, perhaps of more appeal in Europe (where Dausgaard is better known) than in North America. The performances themselves are very well done, with Dausgaard being especially sensitive to the flow of the Sibelius and of Nielsen’s “Sinfonia Espansiva”—whose last movement requires careful presentation (which it receives here) so as not to be something of an anticlimax. The Brahms and Dvořák symphonies sound fine, too…the Danish orchestra has become a world-class one that can play idiomatically not only in Scandinavian music but also in works from other cultures. A listener—that is, a listener-and-viewer—who wants Dausgaard’s readings of these symphonies, with the conductor’s well-spoken commentary, will enjoy this DVD… © 2012 Read complete review

Robert Benson, June 2012

The Danish National Symphony Orchestra, formed in 1925, is a vital part of the country’s cultural scene. Collaborating with the Beckett Foundation, they are presenting a series of concerts called the Symphonic Summer project for the purpose of attracting new audiences. Four performances from this series can be seen on this fine new DVD taped in 2009, all receive sterling readings from the excellent orchestra. Excellent audio, presenting a rich orchestral sound…This is a fine issue. © 2012 Read complete review

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