Icelandic Music for String Quartet

DANIEL BJARNASON (b.1979): Stillshot, UNA SVEINBJARNDÓTTIR (b.19??): Opacity, VALGEIR SIGURDSSON (b.1971): Nebraska, MAMIKO DÍS RAGNARSDÓTTIR (b.19??): Fair Flowers, HAUKUR TÓMASSON (b.1960): Serimonia.

Catalogue Number: 07V060

Label: Sono Luminus

Reference: DSL-92232

Format: CD

Price: $15.98

Description: Five different ideas about what can be done with the contemporary string quartet, by young Icelandic composers most of whom have some experience outside the 'classical' field. Bjarnason's Stillshot refers to the early days of photography and the incomplete memory traces of a bygone age. " ... recollections appear abruptly and vanish quickly, some of them distant but others more focused and clear." and this is how the music sounds; some passages are clear and sound like conventional quartet music; others are more abstract and fragmented. The other works here generally are more strongly rooted in tonality, with personal takes on minimalism a recurring feature. Sveinbjarnardóttir's Opacity comprises four movements in which one instrument plays as soloist, the other three remaining in an accompanying role. The cello is bold and assertive, the viola elegiac, the first violin improvisatory. The Sigurdsson is an Icelander's imaginary travelogue of Nebraska, territories that share some geographical characteristics. There is a good deal of minimalism and tonality in his approach. This is also true of Ragnarsdóttir's Fair Flowers, though her version of minimalism is more about static patterns than evolving motion. The piece is based on a colour analysis of a painting of flowers, and the listener is aware of patterning in the music, but of a type more suggestive of the calm of a natural still life than the incessant movement of conventional minimalism. Tómasson also constructs his piece from a mosaic of fragments; here, however, they are cells of different (and novel) textures, repeated and overlapping in different order, building complexity along the way. Siggi String Quartet.


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