I am not sure what happened to volume 1 (8.224708) but this disc
serves to introduce me to Leif Kayser. He studied with Poul Schierbeck,
Hilding Rosenberg and the conductor Tor Mann. Among his works
are four symphonies (1938, 1940, 1943-53, 1945-63), Christmas
(1943-47), Te Deum
(1946-53), four orchestral
suites (1956-73), Requiem
and Church Panes
(1975). Having studied for the priesthood
in Rome from 1942 he became a catholic priest at a church in
Copenhagen in 1949 but was released from his vows in 1964.
The First Symphony
is a concise romantic work with a rising
and surging insistence. The silvery perfection of his string
writing recalls Respighi in the Concerto Gregoriano
four movement Fourth Symphony
was a long time in the making.
The first movement is by turns sturdy and dignified and then
lightly fugal. There is a racing Molto Vivace
brass fanfares and quick joyous writing for the strings (tr.3
1:20). The last two movements are very substantial: 20:37 and
17:11 as against the first two: 8:40; 6:02. The Lento
a dark and serious affair shackled in soulful tones to the matte
lower range of the orchestra. The finale includes many solo episodes
and the music is couched in a pastoral contemplative style with
some moments rather like Nielsen and Vaughan Williams especially
at the start. These are punctuated by some wonderfully empowered
hammer-impact chords redolent of Jon Leifs (at 4:20). Some of
the surging writing for strings reminded me of Hindemith's Mathis
symphony and at 14:37 the cresting climaxes of
the vintage Roy Harris symphonies. At the peak (16:10) it is
as if Kayser is exultantly referencing Nielsen's Fifth Symphony.
Thus Kayser’s final symphony written at the age of 47.
The recordings of both works are an object lesson in naturalism
and immediacy - not always easy bedfellows.