The second installment in Sakari Oramo's superb hybrid SACD cycle of the symphonies of Carl Nielsen on BIS presents the Symphony No. 1 in G minor and the Symphony No. 3, "Sinfonia espansiva," two ruggedly independent works that reflect the composer's late Romantic style yet point to the modernism to come. While the Symphony No. 1 was influenced by Brahms and offers a rich harmonic language, propulsive rhythms, and a fairly homogenous orchestral palette, the Symphony No. 3 is striking for its reliance on unfolding counterpoint and long-breathed lines, and most notable for the use of wordless parts for soprano and baritone voices in the pastoral slow movement. These performances by Oramo and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra are exceptional for their stunning power and spacious feeling, though the crisp details and focused sound quality will be the biggest draw for audiophiles.
The Happenings are best-known for their hit single "See You in September," which is a sunny slice of sunshine pop featuring happy, bouncy vocals and intricate harmonies reminiscent of great white doo wop groups like the Four Seasons and the Tokens, who were not-so-coincidentally the Happenings' mentors and producers. Collectables has reissued both of the Happenings' records on one disc: 1966's The Happenings and 1967's Psycle. Both discs feature the stunning vocal gymnastics of their hit single and their updated doo wop sound coated with an easy listening gloss of strings on a not-very-thick Wall of Sound. Most of the songs on their debut were written by the members of the Tokens and are not bad but not that memorable, as they follow the formula of their hit but pale in comparison. An exception to this is the strange "You're in a Bad Way," which is a spooky track filled with death-related imagery that sports a surprisingly funky backbeat.