“Throughout, the symphony’s inherent interest lies in its dramatically changing moods, accomplished through Nielsen’s imaginative toyings with differing instrumental timbres. Matson proved masterful at bringing out these experimentations, underlining the emotional contrasts, while managing the work’s overall complexities. A tall, commanding figure with an enormous wingspan, when she spreads her long swan-like arms and broad hands to signal the orchestral sounds you get a sense that the music is well taken care of, secure under her devoted guidance. ” – Lisa Sagolla The Danish Pioneer
“What a splendid night it was! The program, appropriately entitled “Under Northern Lights,” featured works by Swedish-Finnish composer Bernhard Crusell and Danish composer Carl August Nielsen. The audience was treated to the sounds of some remarkably talented musicians who performed the beautiful Nordic-influenced music…………… indeed the evening’s performers rose masterfully to the challenge of the works. The tonal quality of the orchestra was refreshingly pure: the strings, in particular, produced exhilarating highs in the violins and well-focused tones in the lower strings, and the woodwinds matched this quality, producing an overall balanced blend. Steven Hartman has an impeccable command of the instrument: displaying its technical virtuosity, as well as its beautiful and rich tone, that he evenly maintains in all its registers.” – Paul Shelden, Nordstjernan
“The real surprise is the New York Scandia Symphony, a gem of an ensemble that delivers one suave, spirited and technically irreproachable performance after another…Not one to leave any interpretive stone unturned, Matson, who has a fine ear for instrumental and registrational balance, draws a sterling sound from her colleagues.” – John Bell Young, The St Petersburg Times
“Who would have thought that one of the year’s most stunning moments in classical music so far would have taken place in the middle of the day at a landmark, downtown church?” – Alan Young, Lucid Culture
“So unfailingly lovely that those lucky enough to purchase the disc [of Lars-Erik Larsson’s orchestral works] will be surprised that the composer has eluded their attention for so long a time.” – Lawrence Vittes, Gramophone Magazine
“Danish conductor Dorrit Matson matches the soloist’s intensity and draws from the New York area players both the muscularity and ingenuity of this extraordinary score”. Vital, idiomatic, vigorous, exciting, propulsive, gorgeous.” – Robert McColley, Fanfare
“Dorrit Matson, the Danish born conductor led a lush, shimmering statement of Carl Nielsen’s delightful Aladdin’s Dream.” – John Rockwell, The New York Times
“There is an air of comprehension in their playing and a calmness in Matson’s reading. It’s the sort of harmonious arrangement that comes from understanding the bigger picture…..the core of Nielsen convincingly emerges.” – Andrew Druckenbrod, Gramophone Magazine
“Matson is an exciting and colorful Nielsen conductor and the dedicated New York Scandia players respond splendidly to her inspired direction. Aladdin is magnificent.” – Ian Lace, Musicweb – Classical Seen and Heard.
“The sound is gorgeous – it is amazingly good.” – Donald Vroon, American Record Guide
“The New York Scandia Symphony under Dorrit Matson offered a beautifully played program.” – Bill Zakhariasen, New York Daily News
“Once again, the stylistic acumen of the performers was masterly.” – Dennis Rooney, The Strad
“The New York Scandia Symphony serves as the a de facto New York branch of the Danish, Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian MIC’s, and offers wonderfully well performed programs of musical discovery and advocacy.” – Jeffrey James, The Danish Pioneer
“Set against a backdrop of sculptured lawns and garden walkways, I discovered an orchestra composed of unbelievably talented musicians – inspiring the crowd to peacefully absorb this colorful musical journey.” – Johnny Walker, The Danish Pioneer
“The recording immediately captivated me and held on firmly for its entire 34 minutes.. vital, idiomatic, exciting, propulsive, gorgeous. Danish conductor, Dorrit Matson matches the soloists’ intensity and draws from the New York players both the muscularity and ingenuity of the extraordinary score. This is the most enjoyable performance of the work known to me, either live or recorded. A disc combining brilliant and idiomatic readings of the violin and Flute Concertos of Carl Nielsen is hard to come by – until now.” – Robert McColley, Fanfare Magazine
“The orchestra’s tone was all the more significant in a reverberant hall where both strings and winds would normally have had an annoying muddy quality. That Matson’s group was so good is certainly the result of an impeccable pitch placement and well-balanced strings and winds, no doubt the focus of an experienced and gifted conductor and equally gifted musicians. The orchestra, as a result, came out with its own unique and identifiable sound.” – Paul Shelden, The Clarinet
Reviews in Lucid Culture
April 9th, 2015
Many years – maybe decades – before Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic were thrilling audiences with the sweep and majesty and blustery fun of Carl Nielsen’s symphony cycle, maestro Dorrit Matson was doing the same thing and more with the New York Scandia Symphony. She and the orchestra specialize in both classical repertoire and new music from the Nordic countries. Much of what they play is rare and relatively obscure, at least south of where the aurora borealis is flickering. Which makes them a unique and important part of this city’s cultural fabric.
And they’re not such a secret anymore: from the looks of it (a few empty seats in the balconies), their Thursday night concert at Symphony Space was sold out. The orchestra rewarded the crowd with rousing, dynamic versions of material that for the most part is not typical for them. This time out, the program wasn’t about discovery as much as it was revisiting some of Scandinavia’s greatest global classical hits via a joint 150th birthday salute to both Nielsen and Jean Sibelius.
March 13, 2009
The New York Scandia Symphony dedicates itself to popularizing the work of Scandianavian composers here in the US. That a staggering ninety percent of their repertoire is pieces making their American premiere is reason alone to put them on your calendar. The other, obviously is that they rank with any other orchestra in New York in terms of talent. Who would have thought that one of the year’s most stunning moments in classical music so far would have taken place in the middle of the day at a landmark, downtown church? ………………………..
Nielsen’s Fifth Symphony closed the program. ……….To hear this on an ipod is inspiring; to watch this orchestra make their way through it with such intensity and command of its emotional sensibilities was far more satisfying than anything a recording could possibly deliver.
June 10, 2009
Discovery is invariably fun, whether getting a scoop or stumbling onto something that slipped under the radar the first time out. This definitely falls into the latter camp, having appeared on the market a couple of years ago, but it screams out to become part of the canon, a masterfully recorded, emotionally rich collection of the Nielsen orchestral pieces that you’ve most likely never heard and quite possibly never heard of. The New York Scandia Symphony is simply one of the nation’s most adventurous orchestras, devoting a staggering ninety percent of their repertoire to either United States or New York premieres of works by Scandinavian composers. This cd is characteristic. Nielsen’s most familiar symphony is the widely played Fourth, “The Inextinguishable,” along with the fascinatingly voiced, call-and-response-laden Fifth. Yet the Danish composer wrote several other first-class works for full orchestra, collected here for the first time under the inspired direction of Dorrit Matson (revealingly interviewed here recently). It’s early 20th century romanticism, soaring, bright or lushly atmospheric, occasionally tinged with Eastern and Middle Eastern motifs.
March 10, 2010
The New York Scandia Symphony’s marathon concert yesterday at Trinity Church was exhausting yet exhilarating for musicians and audience alike, reaching a level of intensity envied by most players and rarely experienced by the average concertgoer. On one level, the members of the ensemble are spoiled rotten. While other orchestras roll out the same tired warhorses night after night, the Scandia dedicate themselves to obscure and rarely heard masterpieces by Scandinavian composers. Which means at least one premiere of some sort at every concert. The price of such riches? Hard work, but this one was well worth being out of breath for (as several in the orchestra literally were by the end).
May 30, 2009
Thursday at Trinity Church conductor Dorrit Matson led the pioneering New York Scandia Symphony through a characteristically enlightening and exciting performance that left no doubt that the Scandinavian composers of the early classical era were just as substantial – and could be sometimes just as schlocky – as their counterparts a little further south. This program featured a trio of compositions drawing on Viennese School influences, and as is the custom with the Scandia, one piece was a US premiere and the other, C.E.F. Weyse’s Symphony No. 6, was making its New York debut, two hundred years after it was written.
February 13, 2010
Going to see a concert by the New York Scandia Symphony is something akin to being a member of a secret society. They are an organization after our own heart. The NY Scandia dedicates itself to popularizing Scandinavian works from over the centuries, some of which are well-known or even iconic on their native turf but completely obscure here. You can also count on them for at least one US or New York premiere at every show. Thursday night in the comfortable Victor Borge Auditorium at Scandinavia House in midtown they brought their smaller String Symphony chamber ensemble for a program that even by their exacting standards was riveting.
Making his North American debut, hotshot Danish accordionist Bjarke Mogensen joined the ensemble for a richly genre-blending, emotionally intense yet frequently very playful US premiere of Anders Koppel’s Concerto Piccolo. Koppel began his career as a rock musician while still in his teens, playing psychedelic pop with popular Danish export Savage Rose, but in the following years he moved to film music. This three-part suite proved as fascinating as it was well-played, leaping from jazzy, bass-driven Mingus-esque suspense to macabre Bernard Herrmann atmospherics to a surprisingly upbeat, subtly amusing conclusion. Mogensen matched a whirlwind attack through a knotty thicket of accidentals to several wrenchingly beautiful, minimalistically ambient passages while conductor Dorrit Matson worked overtime but didn’t break a sweat. They closed with another string piece, Frank Foerster’s Suite for Scandinavian Folk Tunes, the composer himself the featured soloist on viola, a similar feast of contrasting emotions, timbres and attacks. The piece interpolated a series of rousing hardanger-style fiddle dances meant to symbolize the five Scandinavian nations against a haunting, ominous “song of the sea” theme that cleverly worked variations on a minor sixth arpeggio. In the depths of the sway and the swells of the string section, the heart of a very inspired noir garage band – or Norwegian surf band from the sixties – had come alive, in a very subtle way. The Scandia Symphony’s next full-orchestra concert is on March 9 at 1 (one) PM at Trinity Church playing yet another premiere-packed program.
SoundWordSight - Jeffrey James