JÓN LEIFS (1899-1968): Scherzo concreto for Flute, Piccolo, Oboe, English Horn, Clarinet, Bassoon, Trombone, Tuba, Viola and Cello, Op. 58, Quintet for Flute/Piccolo, Clarinet, Bassoon, Viola and Cello, Op. 50, Varizioni pastorali for String Quartet, Op. 8, Elegies for Male Choir, Mezzo-Soprano and Violin, Op. 35.
Catalogue Number: 11J004
Description: With the exception of his three string quartets, Leifs' complete chamber music is included here. Two are late works, the Scherzo and quintet, from 1964 and 1962 respectively, and they represent the rare, late use of serial methods. The much earlier Beethoven variations (1937), arranged from its orchestral original of 1932, progressively move toward compositional elements associated with Icelandic folk music. Elegies (1947) is an in memoriam work for Leifs' 18-year-old daughter who drowned off the Swedish coast. Using one poem and a melanage of occasional verses, aphorisms and refrains from Icelandic folktales, Elegies becomes, through its first movement, "Grief", its second Todtentanz-like "Dance of Sorrow" and the long, final "Sea Poem", a harrowing and emotionally raw expression of boundless and inconsolable grief with few comparisons in European art music. Icelandic-English texts. Thórunn Guthmudsdóttir (mezzo), Male Choir, Reykjavík Chamber Orchestra; Bernhardur Wilkinson.