* Symphony No. 2 (1939)
* Symphony No. 3 (1943-53)
Coro Misto, Aalborg Symphony Orchestra/Matthias Aeschbacher.
Da Capo 8.224708 Total time: 72:39
Charlie McNielsen. For a composer, the Dane Leif Kayser has led an
interesting life. Hailed as Nielsen's successor, he put music to the
side to become a Roman Catholic priest for many years. He then obtained
a release from his vows in order to marry and returned to music full-time.
I've always wondered about those who want the next Nielsen or the next
Shostakovich or the next Whomever. Often, the original is artistically
unique. Even Brahms isn't the next Beethoven, but the one and only
Brahms. The problem with becoming the Next comes down to the low odds
of ever becoming as good. Indeed, those who produce through imitation
something as good as the model tend to run rare on the ground. Most
such composers remind me of ventriloquists' dummies, rather than of
artists with something of their own to say. On the other hand, Weinberg
has written as well as Shostakovich. Clarke (though not Jacobi) has
written as well as Bloch. I can't think of many more similar successes.
Kayser's Second Symphony, in its harmonic language and in the shape
of its themes, owes a lot to Nielsen's Third, but Kayser really does
write something at the level of the original. The counterpoint, so good
it stuns you, may even surpass Nielsen's. On the other hand, I find it
difficult to shake Nielsen from my mind. The experience of listening
resembles examining a brilliant forgery. I kept thinking, "This is
beautiful, but I've been here before." Perhaps others won't have this
difficulty. Kayser occasionally uses a wordless chorus, a tasteful "ahh"
here and there, plus reinforcement at the end of the entire work. I
find the chorus largely unnecessary.
As you can tell from the dates above, the Third Symphony took much
longer to write than the Second. It's more dissonant, inhabiting Nielsen's
idiom of, say, the Sixth Symphony or the Clarinet Concerto. The liner
notes, for no good reason, bring Schoenberg's dodecaphony into the
discussion, but the symphony has really so little dissonance, this point
should never have come up. Still, a very nice symphony. If you like
Nielsen, you'll probably like this.
I would call the performances sturdy, rather than stellar. Another
problem of sounding like Nielsen is that I keep comparing this performance
to the great Nielsen performances -- Bernstein, Blomstedt, and so on.
How much better this would sound, I say to myself, if only the Berlin
Philharmonic played it.
The CLASSICAL mailing list is powered by L-Soft's renowned LISTSERV(R)
list management software together with L-Soft's HDMail High Deliverability
Mailer for reliable, lightning fast mail delivery. For more information,
go to: http://www.lsoft.com/LISTSERV-powered.html