- Symphony No. 5, FS 97 (Op. 50)
- Flute concerto, FS 119
- Aladdin, incidental music, Op. 34 (FS 89): Entrance March
For a while in the '60s, it looked like Danish fin de siècle symphonist Carl Nielsen was going to hit it as big as his Austrian contemporary Gustav Mahler. His six symphonies got a fair number of recordings by such international conductors as Bernstein, Ormandy, Horenstein, Previn, and Barbirolli and received a fair number of positive reviews from international critics. But the '60s ended, and while Mahler's symphonies have become part of the standard international repertoire, Nielsen's have remained the almost exclusive property of Danish conductors, though the Finns have made successful forays into his music. This 2008 disc, however, demonstrates that the loss is entirely to the international repertoire because it is as compelling a performance of Nielsen's "Fifth" and greatest symphony since the '60s. English conductor Mark Elder clearly has a strong feeling for the "Fifth," grasping both its romantic roots and its modernist intentions and uniting its embattled opening movements and its striving closing movements in a wholly persuasive aesthetic whole. With the passionate and professional playing of Hallé (the renamed Hallé Orchestra of Manchester) that combines virtuoso soloists and an impeccable ensemble, Elder has an orchestra capable of filling his intentions and the result is a performance of the "Fifth" to take rivals Bernstein's and Horenstein's. Coupled with a sprightly performance of Nielsen's "Flute Concerto" with soloist Andrew Nicholson and including as a bonus a world-premiere recording of the "Entrance March" from the same composer's "Aladdin" incidental, this disc is wholly worth hearing by Nielsen's fans. The digital studio sound is rich, deep, and lustrous.