In Southbound of the Circle (SONO LUMINUS 92232), a superb string quartet takes the listener on a journey into the far reaches of Icelandic music by award-winning composers Daniel Bjarnason, Una Sveinbjarnardóttir, Valgeir Sigurðsson, Mamiko Dís Ragnarsdóttir, and Haukur Tómasson.
Una Sveinbjarnardóttir, Helga Dóra Björgvinsdóttir, Þórunn Ósk Marinósdóttir, and Sigurdur Bjarki Gunarsson are the members of the Siggi String Quartet. Each and every one of them virtuoso soloists on their own, here they place their precise, focused, quintessentially honest, elegant, intensely emotional, and intellectually compelling playing to the service of the music.
In Daniel Bjarnason’s Stillshot the music begrudgingly stands still but for a moment to capture in sound one instance of stasis out of many fragments of reality depicted in restless snippets of melody that appear and evanesce like memories that leave no trace behind.
The quartet’s uncanny ability to flesh out in sound the ineffable is present in Una Sveinbjarnardóttir’s Opacity a four-movement string quartet that juxtaposes different soli for each of the quartet’s members allowing them only towards the end to just barely intertwine.
Valgeir Sigurðsson offers in his Nebraska a commentary on the similarity between his birthplace’s isolation and geographical vastness and Nebraska’s similar physical characteristics, utilizing sweeping, long lined melodic statements from the cello against ostinato broken chords in the upper strings that evoke aspects of nature, some rugged and unforgiving, some beneficent.
Mamiko Dís Ragnarsdóttir bucolic Fair Flowers celebrates the starkness of Iceland’s Tröllaskagi peninsula and the improbable survival and resiliency of its multicolored flora in a miniature polytonal tone poem.
Haukur Tómasson Serimonia is a study in motion in which pizzicato strings alternate with sforzando attacks that create a landscape of tonal and rhythmic uncertainty that does not go away but simply and gradually does a decrescendo that gently fades away .
SONO LUMINUS has created an excellent sampler of music far off the beaten path lovingly engineered by Daniel Shores and flawlessly produced by Dan Merceruio. To each and every one involved in this worthy project here is a hearty Icelandic Hamingjuóskir!
Rafael de Acha http://www.RafaelMusicNotes.com