Stories » Nikolaj Znaider with Cleveland Orchestra make strong case for Nielsen / South Florida Classical Review

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Nikolaj Znaider with Cleveland Orchestra make strong case for Nielsen / South Florida Classical Review

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The Cleveland Orchestra brought music from Scandinavia to the Arsht Center in Miami Thursday, performing a neglected concerto and one of the region's most popular symphonies. The former was the Violin Concerto of Carl Nielsen, Denmark's greatest composer. The work's 1912 premiere came just eight years after the premiere of its Nordic cousin, the Violin Concerto of Sibelius. But while the Sibelius concerto went on to become one of the most popular works in the repertoire, Nielsen's was relegated to the status of occasional concert curiosity. A program note said the Cleveland Orchestra has performed it just once previously.

With his rock-solid technique, big tone and extroverted style, soloist Nikolaj Znaider made the strongest possible case for the work. Like Nielsen himself, who lived from 1865 to 1931, the concerto straddles the sensibilities of two centuries, at times speaking with a Romantic sweep that would have been at a home in an 1880s concert hall, at other times taking on a bumptious, astringent tone that could have come from the pen of Prokofiev.

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