INKPOT#98 CLASSICAL MUSIC REVIEWS: LEIFS Hafis. Two Songs. The Lay of Gudrun. Nott. Fine I. Lullaby. Iceland Symphony Orchestra/Manson(BIS)
Jon LEIFS (1899-1968)
Hafís (Drift Ice), op.63
for mixed chorus and orchestra
Tveir Söngvar, op.14a
Two Songs for mezzo and orchestra
Gurúnarkvia (The Lay of Gurun), op.22 for mezzo, tenor, bass and orchestra.
Ntt (Night), op.59
for tenor, baritone and small orchestra
Fine I, op.55
Farewell to Earthly Life for orchestra
Vgguvsa (Lullaby), op.14a No.2
for mezzo and orchestra.Iceland Symphony Orchestra conducted by Anne Manson
by e Inkpot Sibelius Nutcase
The Overture to Loftr is a stupendous work, accessible and direct. Composed independently of the Loftr-Suite (reviewed here), it uses the latter’s material to good effect. The Iceland SO under Osmo Vänskä produce an exciting and very energetic reading, with some really thunderous playing. Witness the menacing rmur theme on cellos stomping over the pealing bells, only to be overrun by the charging violin “zigzag runs… plunging like water over the ledges” (to borrow the very appropriate phrases from the CD notes).
The Icelandic Folkdances are unusually ‘melodic’ for Leifs, each movement consisting of different rmur themes repeated in a strict order. Folk dances for orchestra they may be, but Leifsian in scale they still are, characterised by “giant footsteps” of orchestral stomping, carrying melodic themes on the brass. The first movement Allegretto begins with such a jolly heavy-footed figure, seeming to depict giants dancing. This alternates with a graceful string tune of decidedly pastoral quality. Likewise the second movement is a moderate gigue with more than a hint of the Scottish. These are fine and picturesque works, in brilliant and committed performances by the Icelanders.
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