Kayser: Symphonies Vol 2 / Aeschbacher, Aalborg So

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This second volume of Kayser symphonies makes a more favorable impression than did its companion. The First Symphony, composed in 1937/38, is the precocious work of a 19-year old. Its three compact movement play for only a bit more than sixteen minutes, and the influence of Nielsen is obvious in the work's formal shapeliness, rhythmic vitality, and freshness. The Fourth Symphony by contrast, Kayser's last, is a large piece beginning with a pastoral prelude followed by an exciting scherzo, a very long Lento (20 minutes) and a finale nearly as big. It's a major work and far finer than the Second and Third Symphonies already released. The idiom is aggressively tonal, melodic, but shot through with diatonic dissonance. Occasionally, as the notes point out, Bartók or Hindemith may come to mind, but Kayser's harmony is far more traditional than either of those composers. That big Lento is very impressively sustained, rising to a very powerful, gut-wrenching climax about three-quarters of way through. The finale meanders a bit towards the middle, but recovers in plenty of time to bring about a very satisfying conclusion--brilliant but also somewhat emotionally ambivalent.

In sum, if you're interested in good post-Romantic music than you should hear this. The performances are quite satisfying: the orchestra sounds a touch more confident than on the previous outing--perhaps the quality of the music shows them in a better light, though I do wish they would invest in a decent-sounding pair of cymbals. The engineering is good, a touch dry, with a bit more ambient performance noise than otherwise would be ideal, but it doesn't get in the way of the music. Kayser spent nearly twenty years polishing his Fourth Symphony (1945-63); it really is a most distinctive piece, and I'm sure you'll agree that it was worth the effort.

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: 8224709

  • UPC: 747313690923

  • Label: Dacapo

  • Composer: Leif Kayser

  • Conductor: Matthias Aeschbacher

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Aalborg Symphony Orchestra