Siggi String Quartet was founded in 2012 during the Young Scandinavian Composers festival in Reykjavik. The quartet has actively collaborated with current composers and commissioned and premiered numerous works by various composers. The quartet’s repertoire extends from the renaissance through the classical masters and Siggi String Quartet four members have great passion for 20 and 21th century repertoire. “Experimenting with sound and texture, improvisation and life electronics is an important part of our work. It does deepen our understanding of the standard repertoire indirectly, and it goes both ways.” Playing a late Beethoven parallel to working on Haukur Tómasson Serimonia makes us aim for rhythmical super-precision and workingRead more on Mamiko Dís Ragnarsdóttir Fair Flowers after performing the same Beethoven pushed us into the long phrases, picturing endless moss, grey and green and the tiny wild Icelandic flowers in bright violet and yellow. Una Sveinbjarnardóttir´s piece Opacity is more free, the structure is simple and the improvisando feeling is reigning. Daníel Bjarnason wrote Stillshot in 2015. The piece is dreamy and nostalgic and in form resembles a chaconne, where the same chord progression repeats itself throughout. In the middle of the piece there is a retreat from the harmonic structure before it resumes the form until the end. The composer describes the piece as depicting fragmented memories of a noblewoman. The recollections appear abruptly and vanish quickly, some of them distant but others more focused and clear. The title of the piece refers to the early days of photography where people would have to stay still for considerable time so the camera would produce a clear picture.
The excellent Stillshot by Daniel Bjarnason is written as a chaconne, though the listener will have to struggle to discern the chaconne form beneath its rather disturbing surface and very slow tempo. The work becomes suddenly loud in places you don’t expect it to, with sharp shards of sound produced by the upper strings.
Opacity, by violinist/composer Una Sveinbjarnardóttir, combines a lyrical line with edgy qualities; this seems to be a trait of many modern Scandinavian composers.
Valgeir Sigurdsson’s Nebraska essentially stays in A major using modal scale steps and repeated rhythmic figures in the by-now-familiar minimalist style.
Fair Flowers, written by Mamiko Dis Ragnarsdóttir, is hypnotic in its use of slow, overlapping figures in a slow, elegiac form. Towards the end, she indulges in a bit of bitonality, to good effect.
Haukur Tómasson’s Serimonia is highly rhythmic. It offers a nice mind game, attractive in that respect but not the kind of music that will stick with you.
A pretty strange disc with some very interesting pieces on it, a modern string quartet program that takes chances and, for the most part, succeeds.