Quietly spectacular scores, beautifully played and recorded; a most desirable issue.
The Iceland Symphony Orchestra is widely praised for its performances and recordings and concerts devoted to modern music. Since 2011, the orchestra's home has been Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik. Daniel Bjarnason is the orchestra's Artist-in-Residence and is active in a variety of roles as conductor, composer, and educator. Daniel Bjarnason's composer and conducting takes him around the world working with amongst others the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Rambert Dance Company, Britten Sinfonia, So Percussion and the Calder Quartet. Daniel's first opera for the Danish National Opera in Aarhus, Brothers, will be premiered in August, 2017. As well as composing her own music, Maria Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir has performed music around the world with her band, amiina, as well as recorded and collaborated with a range of other bands and artists. Anna Thorvaldsdottir works with large sonic structures that reveal the presence of a vast variety of sustained sound materials, reflecting her sense of imaginative listening to landscapes and nature. Thurídur Jónsdóttir has frequently tacked the relation between acoustic and electronic sounds. In that regard we might mention INNI - musica da camera for baroque violin and sound curtains of an infant murmur, Flutter for flute, orchestra and field recordings of insects and Winter for voice and electronics. Hlynur A. Vilmarsson has enjoyed a diverse career in music, be it as a member of Icelandic rock bands or the composers' collective s.l.a.t.u.r. Infused with a passion for experimentation, his work has also extended to the realm of technology within the platform of LornaLab.
The sound worlds here will surely appeal to those who know and like the music of Iceland’s best-known composer, Jón Leifs (Geysir especially), and the Dane Anders Hillborg. Bjarnason’s own three-movement Emergence, the longest work here, becomes more compelling as it unfolds. Yes, it’s comparatively emphatic and angular—nothing too sharp, mind—but that’s welcome in a programme so full of shifts and shimmers. That said, the final movement—Emergence—has a spare, evolving loveliness that cossets the ear as much as anything I’ve heard thus far. The quiet virtuosity of both the writing and playing is a joy to hear. Quietly spectacular scores, beautifully played and recorded; a most desirable issue.
– MusicWeb International