Nielsen Symphonies Nos 1 and 2

Carl Nielsen’s First Symphony, written in 1891-2, burst onto the scene at its premiere two years later with the gusto that was to typify the composer’s style for his entire career. While Brahms is a clear influence structurally and in the fullness of the orchestration, the symphony conveys a Danish rusticity that is all Nielsen’s own. It is also typical in that it ends in a different key (C Major) than it begins in (G Minor); reputedly the first symphony ever to do so. In the Second (1902), subtitled “The Four Temperaments”, the composer depicts each of the four human temperaments: choleric, phlegmatic, melancholic, and sanguine.

The Seattle Symphony Orchestra recorded highly praised Dutilleux and Ives discs with their previous Musical Director Ludovic Morlot. While...