Moonbow is Gunnar Andreas Kristinsson’s second album and the first to be released on Sono Luminus. The music, performed by leading members of the Icelandic contemporary music scene including Caput Ensemble, Siggi String Quartet, Duo Harpvek and Ingolfus Vilhjalmsson with Conductor Guoni Franzson, was recorded in Kaldalón and Norðurljós, the two recital halls of Harpa Reykjavik Concert Hall.
The album is a selection of more mature works from a fruitful period in the composer’s life after moving back to Iceland in 2009, with all the experience from the Netherlands in his pocket. The album features a trio, a quartet, and a quintet, flanked by two larger ensemble pieces. The works are diverse, not only in terms of instrumentation but also in terms of musical subject and give a good insight into Gunnar’s distinctive and personal sound-world.
With his sensitive insight, Gunnar Andreas Kristinsson has developed a unique and personal style through the years. Typical for his music are unfolding processes, passages that transform smoothly from one texture to another, shifting between contrasting moods. Another characteristic is strictly constructed, multi-layered, continuous movements with musical elements being drawn in and out of the foreground through instrumentation and articulation. Textures woven out of rhythmic and melodic patterns, like patchwork, is yet another distinctive feature.
Gunnar has been described as a ‘strong Icelandic voice with a fresh and bold imagination’. His music has been praised for being vivid and inventive, highly original, pleasantly coherent, purposefully constructed, filled with mystique and magical power.
Siggi String Quartet
Ingolfus Vilhjalmsson – Clarinet, Bass Clarinet
Conducted by Guoni Franzson
Total time: 01:02:27
|Analog to Digital Converters||
Horus (Recording) & Hapi (Mastering), Merging Technologies
STEF Recording Fund, Rannis Music Recording Fund
|Original Recording Format|
Harpa Concert Hall, Reykjavík, Iceland Kaldalón Recital Hall – Norðurljós Recital Hall on February 24-27, 2020
Pyramix, Merging Technologies
Douglas Davis II
|Release Date||April 22, 2021|
The earliest composition in Gunnar Andreas Kristinsson’s catalogue (at least on his website) is a song for mixed choir from 1999 but most of his subsequent output has been instrumental. Kristinsson (b1976) is well schooled, his teachers including Kjartan Ólafsson and the late Atli Heimir Sveinsson in Reykjavik, and Krzysztof Meyer in Cologne; he also studied in the Netherlands.
Kristinsson styles Sisyfos a ‘chamber concerto for clarinet and 13 musicians’. Composed in 2013 and featured at the International Rostrum of Composers in Helsinki the following year, it is in a single, concentrated movement, progressing in three main paragraphs from initial stasis to agitation (exasperation on the part of its titular subject?), punctuated by two brief pauses, as if gathering breath. It is played with exemplary, at times fierce virtuosity – as are all the works here – by Ingólfur Vilhjálmsson and the wonderful Caput Ensemble. Vilhjálmsson, this time on the bass instrument, also features in the curiously titled PASsaCAgLia B, originally penned in 2011 for the harp and marimba of Duo Harpverk, present in this recording of the 2016 alternative version for trio.
Kristinsson’s style blends elements of tonality, atonality, New Simplicity (especially in its obsessive repeated patterns) and postmodernist techniques. Patterns IIb (2016) is a fine example of that, with its louring atmosphere despite its use of an Icelandic folk song and euphonious chiming percussion: it was based on a piece of 2004 scored for quartets of gamelan and Western instruments. Roots (2019), by contrast, takes the overtone series as its abstract inspiration. The evocative title-track, Moonbow (2017), played with relish here by the excellent Siggi Quartet, is more straightforwardly descriptive, reflecting in sound the lunar rainbow (or ‘moonbow’). As such, it is the most directly communicative, and put me in mind at some removes of Saariaho’s celebrated aurora borealis-inspired Lichtbogen (1986).
Sono Luminus provides sound to match Kristinsson’s often coruscating textures and the performers’ clean, luminous virtuosity. You will not regret investigating this music.
Magic of the North
Moonbow features the music of Gunnar Andreas Kristinsson. The music, played by leading members of the Icelandic contemporary music scene, was recorded in the two concert halls Kaldalón and Norðurljós of the Harpa Reykjavik Concert Hall.
Moonbow is a selection of more mature works from a fertile period in the composer’s life after moving back to Iceland in 2009. The album contains a trio, a quartet, and a quintet, flanked by two larger ensemble pieces. The works are diverse, not only in terms of instrumentation, but also in terms of the musical theme and give a good insight into Gunnar’s unmistakable and personal world of sound.
With his sensitive intuition, Gunnar Andreas Kristinsson has developed a unique and personal style over the years. Typical of his music are unfolding processes, passages that flow from one texture to another and switch between contrasting moods. Another feature is strictly constructed, multi-layered, continuous movements in which musical elements are brought to the fore through instrumentation and articulation. Textures woven from rhythmic and melodic patterns like patchwork are another characteristic feature.
Gunnar has been described as “a strong Icelandic voice with a fresh and bold imagination”. His music was praised as lively and inventive, highly original, pleasantly coherent, purposefully constructed, full of mysticism and magical power.
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