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Jon Leifs:Hekla and other orchestral works [Import]

J. Leifs Audio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 1, 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Bis
  • ASIN: B00001QEEW
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #319,124 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Iceland Overture for orchestra, Op 9
2. Requiem for chorus, Op 33b
3. Galdra-Loftr, incidental music, Op. 6: 1. Praeludium. Allegro molto
4. Galdra-Loftr, incidental music, Op. 6: II Mimodrama. Andante, ma non troppo
5. Galdra-Loftr, incidental music, Op. 6: III invocation (Saeringar). Allegro moderato, ma agitato
6. Galdra-Loftr, incidental music, Op. 6: IV Marcia funèbre. Molto moderato, ma alla marcia, sempre accentuato
7. Galdra-Loftr, incidental music, Op. 6: V Finale. Allegro furioso ma eneergico
8. Réminiscence du Nord, for string orchestra, Op. 40
9. Hekla, tone poem for orchestra, Op. 52
10. Elegy, Op.53

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The loudest piece of classical music ever written July 6, 2006
By Russ
Buy this CD if you appreciate music off the beaten path.

Jon Leifs (1899-1968) is the most famous - hold on, maybe I should say "most well known" Icelandic composer, and probably has the most unique composing style I have ever heard. His music is defined by movement in parallel fifths, shifting rhythmic patterns, and extremes (volume, pitch, etc.). Leifs music often starts very quietly, but cumulates in some of the most powerful climaxes ever written. Leifs claims his style is based on old Icelandic folksong, but his treatment of the underlying material is anything but traditional.

Yes, it is true that Leifs' music does not have a tonal center, as we know it in western music, and many of his pieces do not have a traditional melody. However, this should not turn anyone away that is afraid of typical atonal / serial music (most of which is quite bad, in my opinion), as Leifs' music, believe it or not, is quite approachable.

Late in his composing career he wrote a series of powerful tone poems based on the natural features of Iceland ("Hekla" - volcano, "Hafis" - drift ice, "Detifoss" - waterfall, "Geysir" - no explanation needed, I think). These pieces, along with other Leifs compositions, attempt to provide the listener with a musical interpretation of the Icelandic landscape, at least as Leifs views it.

BIS has wisely chosen to separate each of these tone poems onto four CD's, as the inclusion of all four onto one CD would probably overwhelm the listener. The focus of this CD is Hekla, which, as the reviewer describes below, is a volcano in Iceland, the violent eruption of which Leifs apparently witnessed in person.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What the Hekla? November 1, 2000
Hekla, for those who don't know, is the imposing volcanic mountain to the north and west of Reykjavik. Iceland consists, basically, of one huge volcano thrusting up from the North Atlantic; its multiple vents, including Hekla, are active, sometimes violently so. (Hekla last erupted - spectacularly - in 1947.) In the 1960s, Icelandic composer Jón Leifs (1899-1968) composed a cycle of tone-poems celebrating the salient natural wonders of his country: "Geysir" (the namesake of all geysers, near Hekla), "Dettifoss" (Iceland's Niagara Falls), "Hafis" (the floes that break off from Iceland's glaciers), and the awe-inspiring "Hekla" (1961) herself, visible on a clear day from Reykjavik. The score, for mixed choir and orchestra to a text by poet Jónas Hallgrímsson, depicts an eruption of the mighty mountain and Leifs designs it to humble and deafen his listeners before the manifestation of power sublime. Like "Geysir" and "Dettifoss," "Hekla" is a study in carefully articulated dynamic graduation. One might be excused for linking Leifs' aesthetics to Heidegger's ontology: "Being" reveals itself apocalyptically and then withdraws, leaving its mark on a disturbed human consciousness. Hallgrímsson's poem requires three brief lines: "Grimmi djúpi dimmu dauðaorg. / þangað rauðir logar yfir landið / leidu hraunið seidda." ("In the dim depths, death-cries. / There the red flames spread /seething lava over the land.") The "Iceland Overture" (1928) represents Leifs at his most orthodox and acceptable, although it doesn't sound like anybody but Leifs. For orchestra and chorus, it involves a handful of Icelandic folksongs developed orchestrally, with a choral finale to a patriotic poem. Read more ›
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Atonality at its Best! August 20, 2002
Verified Purchase
That's right. For the average listener, atonal music can rarely take the place of tonal music when it comes to giving us a fufilling musical experience. This is mostly because it is limited in its capability to communicate certain emotional qualities. It cummunicates to us in methods other than emotionalism, which characterizes most of our popular music now days. Most average listeners now days find atonal music disturbing and emotionaly unsettling, and that is because that is the emotion that atonality communicates best. Here, in this ablum, Lief's composition HEKLA takes full advantage of this musical phenomenon. Here the deafening atonal blast from the orchestra is used to create the ominous suspence and the horrifing destructive power witnessed by Jon Liefs as he watched an erupting volcano. It is VERY AFFECTIVE. If you want to REALLY experience this music, you HAVE to turn it up!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An add-on to below October 28, 2006
Leifs' music may be unusual stuff for the average classical music fan--even those who love heady 20th century product--but I've found that it's stunningly communicative to, well, average people--kids in particular, and especially if they're fans of Lord of the Rings and such. I'm sure Leifs would have been pleased to hear that.

Without meaning at all to sound patronizing (I admire this composer tremendously) there is something of the "soundtrack" to his sound. Leifs is compared to Ives, but I'd suggest he has more in common with Copland although many who've listened to his wild and woolly sound-world would disagree.

This entire BIS series is wonderful; especially Baldr.
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