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Artist: Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Daníel Bjarnason (conductor)

Composers: Daníel Bjarnason, María Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Thurídur Jónsdóttir, Hlynur A. Vilmarsson

Format: Pure Audio Blu-ray + 1 CD


Blu-ray Details: 5.1 DTS MA 24/192kHz, 9.1 Auro-3D 24/96kHz, 2.0 LPCM 24/192kHz, 11.1 Dolby Atmos 24/48kHz

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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 Reykjavík. Daníel Bjarnason is the orchestra’s Artist-in- Residence and is active in a variety of roles as conductor, composer, and educator. The Iceland Symphony Orchestra has recorded for a number of international labels, including Deutsche Grammophon, BIS, Chandos and Naxos and now Sono Luminus! The Iceland Symphony Orchestra has toured in Europe and the United States.

Daníel Bjarnason’s composing 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. Daníel’s first opera for the Danish National Opera in Aarhus, Brothers, will be premiered in August 2017. Daníel’s music has been performed by conductors such as Gustavo Dudamel, John Adams, André de Ridder, James Conlon, Louis Langrée and Ilan Volkov. Daníel’s versatility has also led to collaborations with a broad array of musicians outside the classical field including Sigur Rós, Ben Frost and Brian Eno. As well as composing her own music, María 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. María has also composed music for films and dance and her compositions have been performed in Iceland, USA, Australia and Europe. Her composition “Clockworking” can be heard on Nordic Affect’s album on Sono Luminus under the same title.

Icelandic composer 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. Anna’s music is frequently performed at major venues and music festivals internationally, by today’s top orchestras and ensembles. The Iceland Symphony Orchestra has previously premiered and recorded several of her orchestral works, including “Aeriality” and “Dreaming.” Anna’s album In the Light of Air (Sono Luminus) was included on “Best of” lists including those of The New York Times, National Public Radio, The New Yorker, Boston Globe, and many more. Anna is the recipient of the prestigious Nordic Council Music Prize for her work Dreaming and The New York Philharmonic’s Kravis Emerging Composer Award.

In her works Thurídur Jónsdóttir has frequently tackled 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. Her compositions are performed at festivals in Europe and USA. She has received commissions from Radio France, NDR, LA Philharmonic among others.

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.á.t.u.r. Infused with a passion for experimentation, his work has also extended to the realm of technology within the platform of LornaLab (Reykjavík Media Lab). Vilmarsson’s work has earned him commissions from various groups and been performed at festivals such as the Tectonics Festival curated by conductor Ilan Volkov.

Track List

Thurídur Jónsdóttir
1. Flow and Fusion    11:03

Hlynur A. Vilmarsson
2. bd    11:33

María Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir
3. Aequora    12:07

Daníel Bjarnason
4. I. Silence    3:02
5. II. Black Breathing    4:51
6. III. Emergence    9:06

Anna Thorvaldsdottir
7. Dreaming    15:51

Total time: 67:30
Release date: April 7, 2017
UPC: 053479221322

Quotes & Reviews

A sense of wonder develops when one realizes one is listening to one of the year’s best albums…

The album operates as a showcase for the entire nation, a gauntlet thrown down to the global music community.  Despite its many authors, the set flows perfectly as a whole, a credit to Bjarnason’s conducting skills as well as to the skills of the orchestra.  While listening, one yearns for a musical Olympics where all national orchestras might compete, each performing new music from their homelands…

Seldom has a set felt so completely alive.

Richard Allen, A Closer Listen

“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.

Hannis Brown, Q2 Music/WQXR

…striking modern compositions by Icelandic composers…

I think this album is fully worthy of your audition if you are attracted to contemporary music.

Mel Martin, Audiophile Audition

The compilation, featuring splendid performances conducted by Daníel Bjarnason, also positions itself as a glimpse into the world of contemporary Icelandic composition, and the impression it leaves is of a scene that is expert and innovative…

…gorgeous, crystalline writing …

Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

Recurrence is an exquisite record…

Karl Erik Sylthe,

…it’s the unique touches that give it real power.

Phil Freeman, Burning Ambulance

Each piece on the album is a gorgeously abstracted soundscape in itself, showcasing the small Nordic island’s all but unparalleled explorations of texture, timbre, and immersive, atmospheric colors in music…

It’s a reminder, like so many of the works on this album, to be still, to listen—and to dream in shimmering detail.

Maggie Molloy, Second Inversion

By all means, open eared classical heads owe it to themselves to check out this wide ranging work. 

Chris Spector, Midwest Record

“Can you hear a country in its music?” asks Steve Smith in the liner notes. An emphatic answer in the affirmative would seem to be the only possible reply, given how naturally images of mist-enshrouded landscapes, steam-spewing geysers, and mysterious, at times menacing vistas are summoned forth. Immense blocks of shimmering sound advance glacially through these orchestral soundscapes, the music's icy timbres rendered with exquisite poise by Iceland's national orchestra.

Ron Schepper, Textura

And although I’ve already praised the sound, the vividness and sheer tactility of composer/violinist María Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir’s seascape, Aequora, took my breath away. There’s a strong pulse and sense of structure to the piece – an ISO commission – not to mention a beguiling colour palette.

…resonates in the mind long after it has finished.

Dan Morgan, MusicWeb International

The most telling work on the disc is Anna Þorvaldsdóttir‘s gorgeous Dreaming, which displays both the greatest invention and the most masterly control over it. The opening texture here is a veritable soup: soft percussive tappings, granular and pitched elements, glissandi, tremolando clusters, phrase morsels, chords coalescing somewhere. From this nascent broth of possibilities Þorvaldsdóttir gradually starts to instigate the formation of sound objects, seemingly under their own gravity. There are moments of violence in these formative acts, though these too feel like creative contributions to music that doesn’t so much gain pace as gather momentum and clout. But this textural space is unpredictable: it evaporates into a low miasma from which melody emerges, coloured with repeated chimings, and this too becomes lost within a gaseous environment where isolated gestures are dispersed around and vestiges of pitch remain hanging in the air. Pure magic.

Simon Cummings, 5:4

The whole thing is beguiling, both as a sonic and a musical statement.

Jonathan Blumhofer, The Arts Fuse

All five works included are stunning…

Zoë Madonna, The Boston Globe

…mountainous grandeur…

Richard Allen, A Closer Listen

…brooding and ethereal…

Rick Shultz, Los Angles Times

Extraordinary and superlative…

Joan Carles Abelenda, Sonograma

A highly recommended record, full of wonder and surprises…

Mike Lazarev, Headphone Commute

Well I’ve never been to Iceland, but I really like the music.”  Please excuse the Hoyt Axton paraphrase but this music brings joy to this listener’s heart.

Wow!  Even as a writer with an avowed fondness for music from the Nordic regions I am pleased to say that I am just stunned at this recording.  This is all new music written in the last few years by Icelandic composers and performed by the Iceland Symphony which seems well prepared to handle these large works.

…This is the sort of album that stereo salons use to show off the range of their amps and speakers.  It is indeed thrilling to hear and the better your sound system, the more exciting this will be…

Allan J. Cronin, New Music Buff

…brooding and ethereal…
— Rick Shultz, Los Angles Times
All five works included are stunning…
— Zoë Madonna, The Boston Globe

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