- Symphony No. 3 ("Sinfonia espansiva"), FS 60 (Op. 27)
- Symphony No. 2 ("De fire temperamenter"), FS 29 (Op. 16)
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Along with the symphonies of Austrian composer Gustav Mahler, the symphonies of Danish composer Carl Nielsen were given their first real shot at the international market in the '60s during the early days of stereo. But though Mahler's symphonies caught on in a big way, Nielsen's soon symphonies faded from the international repertoire. They were revived again in the '80s during the early days of digital, but once again failed to gain international acceptance. Thus, Nielsen's symphonies were reduced to being performed and recorded almost entirely by Danish forces for Danish labels. This does not mean the performances became any less ardent or any less persuasive. Indeed, the reverse is often the case. As this 1999 recording of the "Second" and "Third" symphonies with Michael Schønwandt leading the Danish National Symphony Orchestra shows, the Danes still consider Nielsen one of their greatest composers. The playing here is deeply dedicated and profoundly affectionate, while the conducting is inspired and inspirational. The "Second," called "The Four Temperaments" after the four emotional states each of the movements embodies, is given a strong and sympathetic reading that catches the work's characteristic blend of extroversion and introversion. The "Third," called the "Sinfonia espansiva" after the work's scope and scale, is granted a rough-hewn but muscular interpretation that comes close to rivaling the best recorded performances of the past. Captured in richly colorful and warmly balanced recordings, these performances may not bring Nielsen's symphonies the kind of international acceptance they deserve, but they will remind the composer's fans of his worth.