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ClassicsOnline Home » KAYSER, L.: Symphonies, Vol. 2 (Aalborg Symphony, Aeschbacher) - Nos. 1 and 4
By David Denton
The life of Leif Kayser was one of vacillation, never sure whether he wanted to be a Catholic priest or a composer, finding out too late that you could not be both. Born in Denmark in 1919, he studied composition with Hilding Rosenberg and conducting with Tor Mann, and had made some headway in both. Then in 1942 he travelled to Rome and there pledged his life to the priesthood. That decision lasted for twenty years before marriage brought it to an end, and though he tried to return to composing, his style of writing was long past its sell-by date. Yet when he began both symphonies on this disc—1937 and 1945—he seemed to have the potential of becoming a major voice in Danish music. Listening to the disc I also vacillate between a feeling of modest admiration to the excitement at a new discovery. The First, written in one continuous movement divided into six sections and lasting around a quarter of an hour, is chugging along until we reach the third section marked Furioso when the work takes wing driving through to an exciting final Presto. The Fourth, by contrast, lasts for over fifty minutes and has four distinct movements, the second having a passing resemblance with William Walton. The third movement, Lento, occupies more than a third of the score, and is a sombre statement, the gloom lifted in a busy finale. The work was not performed until 1963 when its style was so out of fashion that the critics punished it. It was, at the age of 47, to be Kayser’s last major orchestral work. They are played by the Aalborg Symphony with their recently appointed principal conductor, Matthias Aeschbacher. Strangely they sound more comfortable in the large-scale and complex textures of the Fourth than the relative simplicity of the First.
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