About a year ago I was awestruck hearing Anne Thorvaldsdottir‘s album Aerial.
Her new composition, In The Light Of Air, once again shows that she is one of the most innovative contemporary composers, and has developed a style that is almost immediately recognisable. And unmistakably Icelandic in nature.
In The Light Of Air is a composition of four movements – Luminance, Serenity, Existence and Remembrance, connected by short transitions to form a seamless flow.
“The work streams from one movement to the next throughout a flowing texture of sound materials and harmonies. Melodies are generated just as much by sounds, gestures and nuances as by pitched lyrical material”
Throughout the piece, the performers (viola, violoncello, harp, piano and percussion) alternate between ‘collective instrumental alliances’ and being a soloist.
The ‘focus on sound’ does not apply to the instruments only: Anna also uses a special installation of metallic ornaments called Klakabönd in Icelandic (which translates as ‘a bind of ice’).
Live performances of the piece also incorporates a lighting constellation that is directly related to the performers breath, as well as to their instrumental performance. The visual part is missing on the recorded performance of course, but you can get an impression from the video below.
Closing this album is a piece called Transitions, which was written for cellist Michael Nicholas.
It’s thematically dealing with ‘man & machine’ (nót ‘vs’!): man indicating expression and emotion, and machine indicating maximal technical accuracy, a somewhat stricter approach to the music. “These two approaches transition from one to another throughout the work”
The work is performed in a small but very effective setting by the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), which the New York Times described as ‘one of the most accomplished and adventurous groups in new music’.
The subtle dynamics of these compositions piece and its performers can be enjoyed in full: the physical release of this album contains a CD as well as a Blu-Ray Audio disc.
The digital versions can be downloaded from Amazon and iTunes.
ICE – Anna Thorvaldsdottir – In The Light of Air: I – Luminance