Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Insert pun involving the name "Leifs" here

Alex Ross had an interesting post on Jón Leifs the other day, prompted by his receiving a biography (in Icelandic) of the composer. I love this: "My excitement at seeing the book was only slightly tempered by the fact that I couldn’t read a word of it."
Ross's recommended Leifs recording, BIS's album with Hekla on it, happens to be the only Leifs album I have, and oh yes it is indeed recommendable. Hekla's one of those pieces that's so loud that it's the silence afterwards that hurts your ears. Which leads me to an anecdote told by Robert von Bahr in an interview with MusicWeb several years ago:
This particular CD [BIS's recording of Leifs' Saga Symphony] did achieve something of a cult status in Japan thanks to Nagaoka-sensei, the guru of Classical music and stereo equipment in Japan. Nagaoka-sensei was actually quite hard of hearing in his later days, and usually cranked up the volume quite loudly. When I released the Saga Symphony, I advised my agent to go personally to him, put on Track 4 something like after 2'35, let Nagaoka-sensei fiddle with the volume, and then make a run for it. After 20 sec the house fell apart, and Nagaoka-sensei emerged from the rubble, a beatific grin over his face, with a glowing review to follow.

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