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Gramophone, October 2007

If Alfven's additions of inappropriate Scherzo and overlong finale were misguided, their critical reception pales beside that of the Scherzo in Leif Kayser's Second Symphony (1939), once hailed as the "most boring ever written" and the work as a whole as “stale". Listening now to this gentle music, such comments seem unduly harsh and based on a basic misunderstanding of the symphony's character, which is fundamentally contemplative with little of the surface incident of, say, one of Holmboe's. Although by nature a traditionalist, Kayser counted Nielsen and Bartók among his models but it was Gregorian chant, rather than folk music, that suffused his music. Not unresponsive to modernist trends, the free-tonal Third Symphony (1953, completed after his ordination as a Catholic priest) again possesses an inner calm, not unlike Creston's faith-led symphonies, and is very nicely presented by the Aalborg Symphony Orchestra under their new chief conductor, Matthias Aeschbacher.





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