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Aerial / Iceland Symphony Orchestra et al.

Aerial / Iceland Symphony Orchestra et al.

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“I am really excited about our upcoming release of Aerial on Sono Luminus this year! The album was originally released in 2014 on Deutsche Grammophon and now the journey of the album continues with Sono Luminus in a remastered version by their very own Daniel Shores. The orchestra piece Aeriality is at the center of the album which also features Into Second Self, Ró, Tactility, Trajectories and Shades of Silence. It was quite a personal journey to record these pieces in Iceland, working with long time collaborators such as the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Caput Ensemble and Nordic Affect. It is such a joy to continue the collaboration with Sono Luminus that we have grown for many years now with releases of, now, all my portrait albums to date! The new release of Aerial will also feature percussion quartet Aura performed by the LA Percussion Quartet.” (Anna Þorvaldsdóttir)


The Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir has emerged as one of the most talented Nordic composers in recent years. Her voice is quite different from that of other contemporary composers, and thankfully her orchestral music has become widely performed and recorded by the leading orchestras world-wide and acclaimed by reviewers and the musical public alike.

The opening work on this disc - Into-Second Self - is for seven brass instruments and percussion. It opens with rumbling, whistling effects as if we are in a dark threatening tunnel, creating an atmospheric roar of sound with the percussion generating what is like an ancient Celtic chant on the horns and trombones. This is heard in an unearthly harmony by evoking sounds of aircraft and loud thuds on the drums, a shimmering of bells becoming increasingly loud then settles into silence.

Written for flute, bass clarinet, piano, percussion, two violins, viola and cello, Rö, opens with a jangle on percussion and piano chords aided by the bass clarinet and the strings harmony. We hear sudden noises against the wind of the flute and bass clarinet with a hint of an idea on the wind against the loud disharmony on the percussion - all broken by a bagpipe-like noise and a twanging idea, all of which creates a world of mystery, yet is brought to a terrible halt with thuds on the keyboard before a slow descent into quiet.

Under the baton of Ilan Volkov, Aeriality opens with a loud chord from the orchestra offering exciting harmony, and the entry of the piano is heard against strings and woodwind babbling in a dynamic pulse - as if we are hearing the movement of great bodies in space, or on the earth - is this the cosmos? There is a constant flow of sound and dissonance with occasional noises and murmuring on the strings, growing steadily louder with roars from the brass and a shrill woodwind theme emerge together in a great potent idea leading to a low-pitched drone of noise against a twitter of woodwind invoking birds calling out in the wind, yet the sudden crashes on the percussion are like chains breaking against rocks then disappear into silence.

Tactility opens with a mysterious hovering sound on harp and percussion and a dull throbbing sound, yet the harp hints at Japanese music, interrupted by thuds on the drums, and a rustling sound pattering away in the background, then we hear the effect of the wind blowing against the window ending with an inflection on the harp.

Composed for piano and electronics, Trajectories opens with a stirring rise in noise and an enormous build in tension with chimes of momentous chords on the piano, lending the impression of ‘something trying to escape’, all in dreadful harmonies, dissonance and a ripple of piano chords repeated amid the chime of a clock, rippling and tapping on the keyboard and an all-powerful throbbing noise before suddenly dying away.

The composer uses an ensemble of baroque instruments for her Shades of Silence, which opens with high shrill notes on strings, creating an amazing acoustic effect enhanced by the pizzicato strings in rising and falling dissonance, of sharply brutal music on the harpsichord that strangely creates an almost magical effect.

Aura, the final piece here, written for four percussionists, starts with an eerie atmosphere of a strange whispering ringing on the percussion with a chiming xylophone and ringing tubular bells, creating an amazingly catatonic effect, against a rustling, loud throbbing noise ‘like whales in the sea.’ For anyone unaware of this young Icelandic composer, this disc will prove an enlightening experience, and can only whet one’s appetite for her more recent compositions. Thorvaldsdottir herself was responsible for the engineering on four of the seven recordings, adding another credit to her talents; the sound quality is splendidly ambient throughout.

-- MusicWeb International (Gregor Tassie)

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  • Release Specifications

    • Number of Discs: 1
    • Release Date:
    • Label:
    • UPC/Barcode: 053479702524
    • Item Number: SLE-70025