I asked Árni Heimir Ingólfsson, the leading expert on the music of Jón Leifs, to say something about Leifs's Edda I, which will be given its long-delayed world premiere by the Iceland Symphony on Saturday. He writes: "It's a truly massive piece, not only for its dimensions — seventy minutes, large choir, two soloists and orchestra — but for the demands it makes on the performers. The choir in particular is hard pressed, with lots of impossible runs, atonal leaps and exhausting tessitura, including a bunch of top Cs for the sopranos and a couple of low Cs for the basses. There's even an alto F-sharp, which is just funny. The text is Leifs's own collage of Eddic poetry describing the creation of the world. Most of it is descriptive, with movement titles such as Day, Night, Sun, etc., but then again, programmatic 'nature' pieces were always what Leifs did best. And of course there's the usual array of bizarre percussion, ancient Nordic lurs, and even an ocarina." More can be found at this out-of-date Leifs site. And here's my 1996 review of the Iceland Symphony's magnificent Carnegie Hall debut.
Update: A producer at Iceland radio tells me that Edda I will be webcast on Oct. 19 at 3:27PM Eastern time.