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  • Thurídur Jónsdóttir
  • 1Flow & Fusion11:03
  • Hlynur Aðils Vilmarsson (b.1976):
  • 2BD11:33
  • María Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir (b.1980):
  • 3Aequora12:07
  • Daníel Bjarnason (b.1979):
  • 4Emergence: I. Silence03:02
  • 5Emergence: II. Black Breathing04:51
  • 6Emergence: III. Emergence09:06
  • Anna Þorvaldsdóttir (b.1977):
  • 7Dreaming15:51
  • Total Runtime01:07:33

Info zu Recurrence

It's a cliché to call Icelandic music evocative of the country's landscape and of the Norse myths so intrinsically tied with Western imagination, from the Prose Edda to the Icelandic Sagas to the books of J.R.R. Tolkien. Yet it's virtually impossible to listen to the latest from composer-conductor Daníel Bjarnason and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra without losing oneself to images of misty volcanic beaches, the eternal twilight of Northern winter, the mind-boggling immensity of a pitch-black sky.

“Recurrence” brings together five fast-rising, particularly imaginative Icelandic composers taken with explorations of texture and glacial movement. Each piece is charged with slow-churning cinematic beauty that builds from eerie stillness to climaxes that seemingly mimic the intense savagery of natural and supernatural worlds.

In Thurídur Jónsdóttir's Flow and Fusion, figures emerge from and disappear into a swirling fog of microtonal strings and scraped cymbal. Volcanic surges of brass give way to unsettling waves that swell and dissipate before rolling out into the ether.

The orchestration that begins Hlynur A. Vilmarsson's BD — shuffling sul ponticello strings and bass drum; pointillistic flute pops and bells — emulates the nocturnal song of whales and slow cracking of ice, shape-shifting into the metal-driven movement and industry of a dwarf workshop. María Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir's Aequora emerges from predawn silence: mallets and strings gradually coalesce into a sustained, luminous sunrise before retreating again into darkness. Daniel Bjarnason's evocative Emergence pivots between beginning-of-the-universe-like slow builds and frenetic flurries of counterpoint and lush string hooks, ultimately untethering itself into the ambient expanse of deep space.

The drama of the music is intensely amplified by the production quality of the recording. As we've come to expect from audiophile label Sono Luminus, this is an orchestral album made for headphones: almost uncomfortably close-up clarity, string swells that move antiphonally between speakers; phrases passed across the stereo spread. It's the kind of mixing usually reserved for art rockers and IDM producers, one that brings each particle of the texturally-driven music up close for magnified inspection.

Anna Thorvaldsdottir's Dreaming is a fitting closer for "Recurrence." A distant ethereal haze taken under a microscope becomes a latticework of orchestrational intricacies, morphing from silent weightlessness to monolithic storms before dissolving into quiet, granular string scrapes, a cycle to continue infinitely across the Icelandic landscape.

Iceland Symphony Orchestra
Daniel Bjarnason, conductor

Daníel Bjarnason
Icelandic conductor and composer Daníel Bjarnason is currently artist in residence with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. From season 16/17, Daniel will be composer in residence at the Muziekgebouw Frits Philips Eindhoven. A co-curator of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Reykjavik Festival, Daniel will be featured as both a conductor and composer in Los Angeles in April 2017.

Recent and upcoming commissions include works for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Rambert Dance Company, Britten Sinfonia, Jennifer Koh, So Percussion, Calefax and the Calder Quartet. Daníel is writing his first opera for the Danish National Opera in Aarhus and will be premiered in August 2017 as part of the Aarhus – Culture Capital of Europe celebrations. Based on the Susanne Bier film Brothers, the opera will be directed by Kasper Holten, and Steffen Aarfing will create the stage design. The librettist is Kerstin Perski.

Daníel Bjarnason’s music has been described as “coming eerily close to defining classical music’s undefinable brave new world” (Time Out New York), under conductors such as Gustavo Dudamel, John Adams James Conlon, André de Ridder, Louis Langree and Ilan Volkov in venues such as Walt Disney Concert Hall, Lincoln Center, Harpa and the Barbican. Daníel’s versatility has also led to collaborations with a broad array of musicians outside the classical field including Sigur Rós, Brian Eno, Efterklang and Ben Frost.

Conducting engagements include appearances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, Iceland Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Ulster Orchestra, Sinfonietta Cracovia, and The Icelandic Opera.

Bjarnason’s work has been recognised on numerous occasions at the the Icelandic Music Awards. This year with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and Iceland Opera, he received the award for Best Performer for their performance of Peter Grimes. Previously he won Best Composer/Best Composition in 2010 for Processions and Composer of the Year, 2013 for his works The Isle Is Full of Noises and Over Light Earth. Also in 2013, he and Ben Frost won the Edda Award for best soundtrack for their score to film The Deep, directed by Baltasar Kormákur.

After studying piano, composition and conducting in Reykjavík, Daníel Bjarnason pursued further studies in orchestral conducting at University of Music Freiburg. Daniel is a member of Bedroom Community, the Icelandic record label and close-knit collective comprising nine like-minded, yet diverse musicians from different corners of the globe. Daníel Bjarnason is published by Peters Edition.

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