Magazine article Gramophone

Download-Only Choral Works from the Icelandic Composer

Magazine article Gramophone

Download-Only Choral Works from the Icelandic Composer

Article excerpt

Hallgrimsson

Rura, rura barni (Sleep, sleep now darling). Myrtuskogur. Niunda Stund (Ninth Hour). Endurkoma (Return). Sonhenda LXXVIII (Sonnet 78). Your Image. Lofio Guo i hans helgidomi (Praise the Lord in his hallowed house) Schola Cantorum Reykjavik/ Horour Askelsson with Asgeir H Steingrimsson tpt Elisabet Waage hp Steef van Oosterhout perc Bjorn Steinar Solbergsson org

Resonus (B) D RES10117 (52' * DDD * T/t)

This recital consists for the most part of occasional pieces, a series of adieux; the general tenor of the texts is solemn and meditative, redolent of mourning or loss. The most dynamic setting musically is Niunda Stund ('Ninth Hour'), whose three short texts reflect on the Passion story. It is the most varied and extrovert work here. Elsewhere, the emphasis is on a certain pan-tonal Nordic brooding, whose dissonance quotient varies from piece to piece: the most recent work, Endurkoma ('Return'), is tonal to all intents and purposes, while elsewhere one has the feeling that the final resolution was by no means ineluctable.

The shorter pieces, being most concentrated, are to my mind the more successful, and the longer the least convincing, especially when the choir is joined by instruments. The (tubular) bell sounds that bookend Myrtuskogur surely count as a cliche of choral music, and the handbells that sound in the closing piece, combined with organ, harp and percussion, are churchy in away that flirts with kitsch. Your Image boasts afar broader and more subtle harmonic range but even here the effect is mitigated by a strange episode with bouncy rhythms in octaves, which sounds jokey but may not have been intended that way (it's hard to tell, for not all the original texts are included with the translations, presumably for copyright reasons), and is anyway jarring. …

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