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Elemental music

Icelandic works,
with BASIL RAMSEY


Iceland Music Information Centre    ITM 9-01

Jón Leifs - Reykjavík Chamber Orchestra (c) 1999 Iceland Music Information Centre

 

Music from Iceland may appear remote but takes its place as an art and as a profession as anywhere else. The Iceland Music Information Centre is active in the interests of the region's music, and has produced this record. What is more, they've ensured that it's attractively packaged, and includes a booklet in three languages. Performances are excellent in the hands of the Reykjavík Chamber Orchestra.

Jón Leifs (1899-1968) is identifiable as a composer who lived in an environmental extreme. The music speaks of it through textures spare and bleak and with language elemental and brusque [listen -- track 2, 8:00-9:00]. It therefore has a grandeur of its own without dependence on other influences. This disc contains four works for voice and orchestra, all settings of Icelandic poetry, which obviously benefits from the musical landscape of a composer steeped in the history and legends of Iceland.

The singers, professional and Icelandic, are very sensitive to this music of their homeland, and add the lustre that brings life and drama to the four 'scenes', three of which were composed shortly before Leifs' death [listen -- track 4, 2:34-3:34].

 

Copyright © 7 February 2001 Basil Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK

 

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CD INFORMATION - ICELAND MUSIC INFORMATION CENTRE ITM 9-01

VISIT THE JÓN LEIFS WEBSITE

 

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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular Wednesday series of shorter CD reviews