STARA features the music of Halldór Smárason. It is the second DSD release from the Siggi String Quartet on the Sono Luminus label. Their earlier DSD album, South of the Circle, released in 2019 is also available from NativeDSD Music.
STARA was recorded in Halldór’s hometown of Ísafjörður, in the Westfjords region in the northwestern part of Iceland. It features works from different stages in the composer’s life, ranging from his student years in New York to this day as a family man and freelance composer. STARA shows Halldór’s development of a characteristic style and unique sense of narrative. All the works on the album are inspired by personal experiences and are often dedicated to people close to the composer himself.
STARA features Halldór’s three string quartets: draw + play, Stara, and BLAKTA; the guitar solo piece Skúlptúr 1; and the chamber works _a_at_na and stop breathing.
Halldór’s music has been described as atmospheric yet aggressive, characterized by simmering energy just beneath the surface that erupts from time to time. His compositional voice is highly original and personal.
STARA is intended to be an insightful portrait of the composer, introducing Halldór’s poetic sonic world. In each composition, Halldór strives for a distinct approach, which is guided by the specifics of the composition (the occasions, space, the instruments, the performer, etc.). As a result, his sonic repertoire is extremely rich. He often includes extra-musical and music-theatrical aspects, which create highly distinct artistic experiences. Additionally, Halldór has been acknowledged for high attention to detail in regards to sound and notation.
Siggi String Quartet is the main performer on the album. The quartet consists of Una Sveinbjarnardóttir and Helga Þóra Björgvinsdóttir on violin, Þórunn Ósk Marinósdóttir on viola and Sigurður Bjarki Gunnarsson on cello. Other musicians are Emilía Rós Sigfúsdóttir on flute, Geirþrúður Ása Guðjónsdóttir on violin, Gunnlaugur Björnsson on guitar, Helga Björg Arnardóttir on clarinet and Tinna Þorsteinsdóttir on piano.