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Jón Leifs – Elegies

As followers of BIS’s series of the music by Jón Leifs (1899–1968) will know, chamber music was never the main focus of the Icelandic composer’s activity. His ‘instrument of choice’ was rather the large symphony orchestra, made even larger by a unique conglomeration of percussion instruments. Aside from three impressive string quartets (available on BIS-691), Leifs’ chamber music consists of only two original works (the Quintet, Op.50, and Scherzo concreto, Op.58), and his own arrangement for string quartet of his Variazioni pastorale, Op.8, originally written for orchestra. All of these works are included on this disc, which offer a fascinating perspective on this composer known primarily for ‘sonic spectaculars’ inspired by natural phenomena of his native Iceland (such as Hafís (Drift Ice) or Hekla), and for the huge three-part oratorio on texts from the Edda, left incomplete at his death. Composed for ‘10 instruments and seven persons’, the brief Scherzo concreto from 1964 is remarkable in that it represents the first and only time that Leifs – in his mid-60s! – experimented with serialism. From the other end of the composer’s career comes his Op.8, a set of variations on a theme from Beethoven’s String Trio, Op.8, composed in Leipzig during the 1920s. The disc closes with one of the most personal works in Leifs’ entire production: Erfiljóð (Elegies). Composed in 1947, shortly after the death by drowning of his young daughter Líf, its three movements – Grief, Dance of Sorrow and Sea Poem – form an attempt to re-enact the scenario of the tragic event, with a mezzo-soprano and a solo violin joining the a capella male choir in the final movement. Recorded between 2002 and 2005 by Icelandic performers familiar with Jón Leifs’ characteristic idiom, these performances were originally released on the Smekkleysa label, and have been remastered by BIS Records for the present release.
    File formats included in CD QUALITY | MP3
    • FLAC 16-bit Stereo
    • MP3 Stereo
$ 8.28
Extra material for download
  Composer: Leifs, Jón
01 Scherzo concreto, Op.58 (1964) 04:10 $ 0.65 USD
  Quintet, Op.50 (1960) 15:16
02 I. Introduzione. Moderato – espressivo e sempre marcato 06:19 $ 0.96 USD
03 II. Funèbre. Adagio 06:57 $ 1.05 USD
04 III. Scherzo. Allegro energico e moderato 02:00 $ 0.32 USD
  Variazioni pastorale, Op.8 (1920–30, arr. 1937) 12:25
05 Thema. Adagio e molto cantabile 01:26 $ 0.22 USD
06 Variation I. L’istesso tempo 01:27 $ 0.22 USD
07 Variation II. L’istesso tempo, quasi grave 01:31 $ 0.23 USD
08 Variation III. Allegro 00:46 $ 0.12 USD
09 Variation IV. Allegro scherzando 00:57 $ 0.14 USD
10 Variation V. Moderato 00:54 $ 0.14 USD
11 Variation VI. Moderato alla marcia 01:01 $ 0.15 USD
12 Variation VII. Allegro molto ma energico 00:30 $ 0.08 USD
13 Variation VIII. Allegro vivace e brillante 00:31 $ 0.08 USD
14 Variation IX. Quasi grave 02:02 $ 0.31 USD
15 Variation X. Finale. Adagio cantabile ma animato 01:20 $ 0.23 USD
  Erfiljóð (Elegies), Op.35 (1947) 22:00
16 Söknuður (Grief) 02:51 $ 0.44 USD
17 Sorgardans (Dance of Sorrow) 05:43 $ 0.87 USD
18 Sjávarljóð (Sea Poem) 13:26 $ 2.09 USD
  Album total 55:18
ComposerLeifs, Jón
ConductorWilkinson, Bernharður
OrchestraReykjavík Chamber Orchestra
ViolinEdvaldsdóttir, Sigrún
Ingólfsdóttir, Rut
ViolaMarinosdottir, Thorunn Osk
CelloGunnarsson, Sigurdur Bjarki
Ingólfsdóttir, Inga Rós
Mezzo-sopranoGudmundsdóttir, Thorunn
FluteNardeau, Martial
ClarinetJóhannesson, Einar
BassoonVilbergsson, Rúnar H.

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