Notes and Editorial Reviews
It's been a long time coming, but it was worth the wait. Jon Leifs died leaving the third part of his Edda cycle unfinished, and he never heard a complete performance even of this Part One. It's not hard to understand why. A refugee from Germany during the Second World War, he returned to a country ill-equipped to perform music of this size and complexity. Even today it's a stretch to find soloists and a chorus up to Leifs' ferociously difficult demands, although at least in Iceland the issue of familiarity with the language doesn't arise. Happily, both soloists sing extremely well, and the chorus, a few perilous moments from the sopranos aside, acquits itself proudly.
As for the
music itself, it will come as a very pleasant surprise to those familiar with Leifs' other works. The influence of Icelandic folk music is omnipresent, but there's much more harmonic and rhythmic variety than in, say, Baldr, or the Saga Symphony. With typically colorful orchestration the piece sustains its 75-minute length easily. Indeed, were it not for the language issue, this could very well become a popular work. The story, cobbled together from various ancient sources, describes the creation of the universe, including the gods and various other creatures. Fans of The Hobbit will be delighted to find the names of Tolkien's dwarves here, but the bottom line is that the words give Leifs more than enough opportunity to write acres of atmospheric, evocative music. Glorious SACD multichannel sonics make this release a major event. Don't miss it. [12/17/2007]
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Edda no 1, Op. 20 "Creation of the World" by Jón Leifs
Gunnar Gudbjornsson (Tenor),
Bjarni Thor Kristinsson (Bass Baritone)
Iceland Symphony Orchestra,
Schola Cantorum Reykjavík
Period: 20th Century
Length: 74 Minutes 24 Secs.
Notes: Composition written: 1935 - 1939.
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