BJARNASON: Emergence; JONSDOTTIR: Flow & Fusion; VILLMARSON: BD; SIGFUSDOTTIR: Aequora; THORVALDSDOTTIR: Dreaming – Icelandic Sym. Orch./ Daniel Bjarnason – Sono Luminus

Smooth Blu-ray sound with striking modern compositions by Icelandic composers.

BJARNASON: Recurrence = Works by Contemporary Icelandic Composers – Iceland Sym./ Daniel Bjarnason – Pure Audio Blu-ray multichannel sound & standard CD. Also included are MP3, FLAC and WAV files (Two discs) – Sono Luminus DSL-92213, 67:30 (4/7/17) [Distr. by Naxos]****:

This lovely disc contains works by 5 notable Icelandic contemporary composers. The Iceland Symphony Orchestra is widely known for its performances and recordings and its concerts featuring modern music. Since 2011, the orchestra’s home has been Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik. Daniiel Bjarnason is the orchestra’s Artist-in- Residence and is active in a variety of roles as conductor, composer, and educator. He is conducting on this presentation, and provides one of the featured works.

The disc opens with Thurídur Jónsdóttir’s Flow and Fusion. Like the other works on the disc, this is contemporary music, contemplative at times, and like the other works we are supposed to hear a bit of Iceland in the composition. Although a short, 11 minute work, it’s quite evocative and a good listen.

The next work is called bd by Hlynur Aðils Vilmarsson. He has enjoyed a diverse career in music, be it as a member of Icelandic rock bands or the composers collective infused with a passion for experimentation.

Maria Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir offers Aequora, a work that starts quietly with a sustained deep bass note, followed by layers of electronic and orchestral sounds.

Next we get Daniel Bjarnason’s Emergence, a three movement work that brings to mind Brian Eno and Ligeti, although Bjarnason clearly has his own interesting voice.

The program ends with Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s Dreaming, and aptly named piece that provides an intriguing sound field that offers contemplation and reflection.

Sono Luminus always seems to get the sound right in their recordings and this disc is no exception. There are two discs in the set, and I auditioned the Blu-ray audio disc which provides a variety of mixes and combinations of channels. I listened to the stereo and 5.1 mixes, and the Dolby Atmos tracks, which on my player translates to 7.1 channels as I’m not equipped with then ceiling channels that Atmos calls for. There is also a standard CD and if you are equipped for it, you can download mp3, FLAC or WAV files for use in portable devices or a home playback system.

The surround sounds worked organically with these works, drawing you deeper into the music. While the compositions are clearly difficult to play, the Iceland Symphony pulls off a very fine performance.

I didn’t know what to expect when I loaded this disc, but I was pleased with both the musical and audiophile recording.

I think this album is fully worthy of your audition if you are attracted to contemporary music.

—Mel Martin

 

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