Danish conductor Launy Grøndahl (1896-1960, he was also a violinist in his younger days, and later a composer) is most associated, between 1925 and 1956, with the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra (as it was known then), the band featured on this Danacord release.
I started with disc two, a relaxed account of Beethoven 4 from a June 1956 concert. Relaxed, yes, sleepy at times, stiff in the slow movement, with anything forte and above attracting a metallic jangling add-on, which I assume is present on the source material. The Finale (with repeat) fares best. From the same concert is Haydn’s B-flat Sinfonia concertante, attractively performed (with much less jangle), the solos – violin, cello, oboe, bassoon – presented with character. Both these performances are issued for the first time.
The remainder of the second disc belongs to Carl Nielsen, HMV recordings of At the Bier of a Young Artist and the ‘Cockerel’s Dance’ from Maskerade. Both reproduce excellently and enjoy rightness of interpretation. They are followed by snippets from movements I, II & IV of Sinfonia espansiva (No.3), from a 1931 concert, the year of Nielsen’s death, and sounding very healthy for its time.
The Nielsen bits make a nice entrée into disc one, this composer’s Second and Fourth Symphonies (respectively ‘The Four Temperaments’ and the ‘Inextinguishable’), the former live, 1956, the latter recorded for HMV in August 1951. Both accounts are ‘from the inside’, Symphony 2 fiery, malleable and intensely expressive – a reading to treasure, played with plenty of seasoning. Such qualities also distinguish Symphony 4, sounding handsome in this re-mastering by Claus Byrith, hiss/crackle levels non-existent without discolouring timbres, and Grøndahl is such an illuminating and involving guide, the musicians giving their all – an essential for Nielsen enthusiasts.
I look forward to Danacord’s next Grøndahl release. Meanwhile, volume one is on DACOCD 881 (2 CDs).