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Nordic Symphonies And A $100 Guitar: Music We Love Now

By Anastasia Tsioulcas | NPR
Monday, March 18, 2013

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Carl Nielsen: Symphonies 2 & 3 (London Symphony Orchestra, Colin Davis, cond.)

 LSO

Even as a 3-year-old thumping melodies on logs in the family woodpile, Carl Nielsen had an imaginative way with music. As an adult, he became one of the great symphonists of the 20th century. Nielsen built his Symphony No. 2, "The Four Temperaments" on the ancient idea of personality traits based on the imbalance of "humors," or bodily fluids. The "Sanguine" finale bounces along in an optimistic march, while the "Phlegmatic" second movement waltzes leisurely. Conducting with precision and vitality, Colin Davis completes his survey of all six Nielsen symphonies with the London Symphony Orchestra. — TH


Leevi Madetoja: Symphony No. 2, etc. (Helsinki Philharmonic, John Storgards, cond.)

 Ondine

As a Finn, composing in the shadow of Jean Sibelius wasn't easy for Leevi Madetoja. But he did manage to forge an individual sound, best heard in his nationalistic opera The Ostrobothnians and his symphonies. The Second Symphony moves from lyric to tragic. Pain roils in the third movement as Madetoja grieves the loss of his brother in the Finnish Civil War. This glowing new recording by the Helsinki Philharmonic also features Kullervo, Madetoja's take on his country's folk epic, the Kalevala. — TH


Various Artists: The $100 Guitar Project

 courtesy of Bridge Records

A battered old electric guitar picked up on the cheap inspired this double album. With odds-and-ends contributions from 69 musicians, from bite-sized Nels Cline to meditative Rhys Chatham to Elliot Sharp's happy clangor, you'll appreciate the long, strange trip this instrument has taken. — AT