Brahms Sym. No.1/Dvorak No. 9/Sibelius No. 5/Nielsen No. 3 [Danish National Symphony Orchestra/Dausgaard] Blu-ray Review
- Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080i/60 (29.970Hz)
- Audio Codec: PCM 2.0 Stereo; DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- Subtitles: German, French, Italian, English, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Japanese
- Region: ABC (Region-Free)
- Rating: Not Rated
- Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
- Studio: C Major
- Blu-ray Release Date: June 26, 2012
- List Price: $39.99
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The Danish National Symphony Orchestra has a long performing history, going back to the 1920’s. In 2004, Thomas Dausgaard became the first Dane to lead this group since its inception. 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. The nearly 3-hours of orchestral staples include the Brahms Symphony No. 1, the Dvorak Symphony No. 9 (“From the New World”), the Sibelius Symphony No. 5, and the only Danish work on the menu, the Nielsen Symphony No. 3 (“Sinfonia Espansiva”). Not only is this music-making at its most gorgeous but the hall is both visually and sonically knock-out! With the exception of the Nielsen work, receiving its video premiere, there are previous versions of the remaining pieces on the program, albeit not all included in a single disc.
The videography was shared by two directors, Arne Rasmussen (Brahms, Nielsen) and Uffe Borgwardt (Dvorak, Sibelius). Stylstically, both give rather similar accounts of the concerts, shifting among some very close shots of the individual players (and their beautiful instruments).We are also treated to large panoramas of the hall, showing the unusual surround seating, including upper decks behind the players. Conductor Dausgaard presents very animated baton work and facial expressions, well caught by the camera men. The frequent and sometimes frenetic transitions during the works were a little fatiguing but most would viewers would probably not watch all of these symphonies in one sitting. 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 heard quite clearly. If anything, the audio recording emphasizes the warmth of the music as it actually sounds during live performance. The soundstage is both broad and deep as would be heard from the mid-orchestra seating of the hall. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack has noticeably more air and depth than its PCM 2.0 version.
C Major includes four discussions of these works by maestro Dausgaard that give some insight into his readings and understanding of the composers’ intentions.
The Definitive Word
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 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. If I were to suggest a starting point, it would be the Sibelius No. 5; I do not think that I have heard the inner workings of this mighty piece any better exposed. I would follow with the infrequently heard Nielsen No. 3 (just listen to the sublime soprano-baritone vocalise in the second movement). 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!
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