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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

Karl Lozier
Positive Feedback Online, September 2012

Is this the start of a new approach? Instead of one major work plus minor and usually shorter compositions often by the same composer to “fill the disc”, here we have four symphonic, and at least three of them are very substantial / major, symphonic compositions. Add in the fact that all four of these symphonies are full audio plus video Blu-ray and the implications are almost boggling. Brahms’ first symphony was generally regarded as the first outstanding symphony composed after Beethoven’s last efforts. The fine rendition of Dvorak’s tribute to America with the beautiful “going home” theme was just fine, thank you. The nationalistic Nielsen Third with its very appropriate two subtle vocal touches and the Sibelius Fifth are heard here just about as well as you have probably ever heard them. I mean right down to small details, orchestral playing and overall audio quality. All this on one Blu-ray disc… A very highly recommended release. © 2012 Positive Feedback Online Read complete review

Lawrence Devoe, June 2012

This ambitious BD presents four major symphonic works of the late Romantic era that the DNSO performed in their new Danish home, the Koncerthuset during the “Symphonic Summer” of 2009. Not only is this music-making at its most gorgeous but the hall is both visually and sonically knock-out!

The videography was shared by two directors, Arne Rasmussen (Brahms, Nielsen) and Uffe Borgwardt (Dvorak, Sibelius). Colors and details are well managed in the C Major tradition.

The acoustics of the Koncerthuset seem to be quite well balanced allowing the timbres of the individual as well as massed instruments to [be] heard quite clearly. If anything, the audio recording emphasizes the warmth of the music as it actually sounds during live performance.

Concert veterans and novices alike simply cannot go wrong with this BD. Thomas Dausgaard and the DNSO may not be well known to those outside of Denmark so I [was] particularly pleased with this kind of exposure. Characterizing the Dausgaard approach to large orchestral works is an attempt to burrow deeply into their core, yet allowing his forces to really sing freely. As such, the tempi are neither hurried nor excessively broad. While there may be more individually distinctive or incisive accounts of these symphonies, God knows nearly every great maestro and orchestra in history has performed most of them, as a group these are performances that will give continued enjoyment on repeated viewings. A personal thank you to C Major for putting this all together, a musical bargain if there ever was one! © 2012 Read complete review

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