"Nowhere else are the works of Nielsen better off than in the hands of the gifted New York Philharmonic Orchestra," wrote the German magazine WiMP, which recently made the latest recording of The Nielsen Project — the Philharmonic's multiyear focus on Carl Nielsen — its CD of the Week.
The album, on Denmark's Dacapo label and distributed by Naxos, features Music Director Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic's performances of Nielsen's Symphony No. 1 and No. 4, The Inextinguishable. The recording is available for purchase and streaming on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify.
Alan Gilbert tears into the opening of Nielsen 4 with some ferocity, sustaining the forward motion very nicely indeed. … Gilbert hasn't micromanaged things, letting an on-form New York Philharmonic let rip.
Gilbert's blazing climax, seven minutes in, has to be heard to be believed. And the Allegro's duelling timps? They're astonishing here … But it's the delectable Symphony No. 1 which I've returned to again and again, Nielsen tipping his hat to Brahms and Dvořák whilst creating something highly individual. Gilbert really nails the music's fiery volatility, and you envy anyone experiencing the piece for the first time. He can also relax, to pleasing effect.
Sinfini Music gave it 4/5 stars:
The New York Philharmonic playing is mostly magnificent, its horns especially impressive in [the symphonies'] third movements – silky-soft in the coda of the First Symphony’s semi-scherzo and full-throated in the climactic build of the Fourth’s Poco adagio – and its first clarinettist as subtle as can be very early on in both symphonies.
If you’re hearing these symphonies for the first time, too, you won’t fail to be impressed at Gilbert’s rugged pacing.
ClassicsToday.com gave the release a 9/10 rating:
"These are strong, exciting performances of symphonies that demand the sort of bold muscularity in their execution that these artists offer. In Alan Gilbert’s hands the First Symphony sounds extremely confident and wholly mature. … The playing of the New York Philharmonic throughout is fresh and unaffected, full of spirit and drive.
The performance of the “Inextinguishable” Fourth Symphony also features some really impressive energy and power. In the first movement the brass play with a precision and clarity that few other versions can match, and in the finale the dueling timpani compete with real bravura. ... This is a very impressive release.
In The New York Times' "Classical Critics Pick the Top Music Recordings of 2014," chief classical music critic Anthony Tommasini wrote, "Alan Gilbert again proves an inspired conductor of the visionary Danish composer Carl Nielsen in this impressive live recording with the New York Philharmonic. ... Here are gripping, insightful accounts of the First and Fourth Symphonies." In November, Tommasini wrote, in a New York Times Classical Playlist: "Sometimes a musician just 'gets' a composer’s music, for example, the conductor Alan Gilbert and the Danish composer Carl Nielsen (1865-1931). ... [H]e manages to make these scores seem structured and inevitable."
BBC Music magazine called the recording "fresh and daring," giving it a review of five out of five stars.
MusicWeb International wrote: "This is big-hearted music and Gilbert and the NYPO do it well."