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Two Sides / Barokkbandið Brák

Two Sides / Barokkbandið Brák

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Tvær hliðar/Two Sides presents two contrasting sides of our music-making. On the first album we perform our core repertoire of Italian and Swedish Baroque music, but Barokkbandið Brák also seeks to expand the repertoire for historical instruments by commissioning new works by up and coming Icelandic composers, and the second album showcases new Icelandic music written specially for the ensemble. All of these works share the same sound world as all the music is performed on historical instruments from the baroque era.


This is a gripping if curiously conceived album, divided unequally between an entertaining music from the High Baroque, and four new works by young Icelandic composers all commissioned by Barokkbandi Brák.

There are no doubts about Barokkbandi Brák’s virtuosity or musicality: the lively opening Allegro of Vivaldi’s Sinfonia bounds along with flawless intonation and ensemble. In Agrell’s vibrant Sinfonia in A and Sammartini’s energetic Concerto grosso, musical flow is always beautifully maintained, moving consistently at pace without seeming hurried. Barokkbandi Brák’s partnership with Elfa Rún Kristinsdóttir in the Agrell Concerto is immaculate, with a real sense of joy – but then Kristinsdóttir is not only one of theirs but was one of the founders of the group in 2015. The same applies to the crisp performance of Vivaldi’s triple concerto for two violins and cello, featuring the group’s co-founder Laufey Jensdóttir and cellist Steinunn Arnbjörg Stefánsdóttir.

The group’s chamber credentials are highlighted in the trio sonatas by Corelli and Stradella, and – in a very different vein – Thrainn Hjalmarsson’s string quartet Recitar cantando/Speaking in Song, a study in ethereal textures. Bergrún Snæbjörnsdóttir composed her septet Quorum Sensing to evoke the biological mechanism that can ‘regulate gene expression’ and ‘co-ordinate group behavior’. Starting in not dissimilar expressive territory to Recitar cantando, it develops, slowly, in a more focused manner. Finnur Karlsson describes Fold as ‘a kind of contemplation about different aspects of Baroque music’. Kristinn Kristinsson’s diptych BRK also explicitly references the Baroque at its opening, though the music immediately circles away from (and back to, several times) the idiom in the first span’s sedate progress. Sono Luminus’s sound is crystal clear throughout.

-- Gramophone

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  • Release Specifications

    • Number of Discs: 2
    • Release Date:
    • Label: Sono Luminus
    • UPC/Barcode: 053479702623
    • Item Number: SLE-70026