Press

Reviews of Horpma

Tokafi on May 10th 2011

Comprised of two movements, Horpma, by Icelandic composer Guðmundur Steinn Gunnarsson, is a work as concerned with process and concept as it is with execution. The piece uses “just intonation”—a tuning system that precedes the equal-tempered tuning of Western music, and makes for intervallic relationships that sound unusual to the modern ear. It incorporates twenty-seven string instruments that together comprise an imagined fifty-four-string instrument—one string for every bead of the rosary. The rhythmic motifs upon which the piece is constructed, meanwhile, mimic the rhythms and accents of Icelandic language. The result is a composition meant to be examined at the microscopic level—one in which tiny fluctuations in rhythm, timbre and intonation replace the more traditional and macrocosmic elements of melody and harmony.

The two movements—totaling 45 minutes—of Horpma are constructed almost entirely around an incessant three-note motif. As the connection to prayer beads implies, the music is marked by a meditative and repetitive quality just engaging enough to keep your thoughts from straying too far from the music, while at the same time exposing constantly changing passing tones and rhythm. As opposed to reading standard notation, the musicians followed instructions that moved across a computer screen. This, coupled with Gunnarsson’s language-reflective accenting of notes, gives the impression of standing in a crowded room and picking out bits of conversation.

The conceptual focus on parts within the whole is further emphasized by the marriage of tones from so many plucked and struck string instruments (including harpsichord, harp, koto, and piano among many more). The sound is surprisingly uniform: subtle timbral variations and clashes of intonation exist here on such a microscopic level that it takes a while to pick them out. Once heard, however, they arguably become the most defining characteristics of the work. Similarly, once your ears accustom themselves to the ancient tuning system, a seemingly infinite number of intervallic structures and microtones emerge from the sonic architecture.

Little happens in the way of “development” over the course of Horpma. Halfway through the first movement, the texture thins dramatically, moving from a claustrophobic tangle of plucked strings and dissonances to periods of empty space punctuated by various deconstructions of the composition’s three-note motif. Interestingly, with the exception of that section, if one is to move quickly between different parts of the two movements, the music superficially sounds almost identical. Of course, any closer inspection exposes a highly nuanced and varied microscopic soundworld—its only true inconsistency being constant inconsistency.

By Hannis Brown

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Conseguito Silenzio was the title of clause in the Sound Projector where Ed Pinsent reviewed Horpma among other things on April 29th 2011:

The composition Horpma (CARRIER RECORDS 009) was sent to us from Carrier Records in Brooklyn. In its understated way, this is a fairly staggering and highly innovative work by the Icelandic composer Guðmundur Steinn Gunnarsson, an elaborate composition that requires six musicians to pluck and hammer the strings of harpsichords, pianos, guitars, harps, and some other instruments I’ve never heard of before such as the chumbuz and langspil. The strings are tuned to very precise intervals, and the players have to follow specific playing instructions which scroll before them on a computer screen, rather than any sort of traditional notation or grid-based system. The outcome is that we’re intended to perceive the work as the voice of a single 54-stringed instrument, rather than separate performances. Even the performance method is unique, as mentioned above; it’s supposed to reflect something about “traditional Icelandic prosody”, which I assume refers to the unique speech patterns we hear in those northerly climes. When I met the wonderful Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson in Reykjavik, he told me that the sagas and stories of Iceland were pretty much all they had in terms of a lasting cultural monument, unlike say the mainstream European tradition of creating buildings and cultural institutions like art galleries and museums that are intended to last hundreds of years. The press notes here tell us that fans of Harry Partch will probably enjoy Horpma, which is probably true if one is thinking about home-made multi-stringed instruments and just intonation tunings, but what also resonates is that Partch sometimes attempted to score the patterns and rhythms of human speech in his music. Traces of this can be found in the recording of ‘Bitter Music’. At all events, I’m very impressed with this extremely distinctive and unusual work by Gunnarsson, and it’s presented in a very nice embossed cover.

http://www.thesoundprojector.com/2011/04/29/conseguito-silenzio/

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Dan Warburton reviewed Horpma in Paris Transatlantic in the Summer 2011 issue:

Icelandic composer Guðmundur Steinn Gunnarsson was born in 1982 and has studied with Alvin Curran, Fred Frith and John Bischoff at Mills College as well as taking part in masterclasses with, amongst others, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Tristan Murail, Helmut Lachenmann and Clarence Barlow. On these two pieces, lasting respectively 31’36” and 12’42”, six musicians (including occasional PT scribe Charity Chan) play 27 plucked and hammered stringed instruments from all over the world – harps, harpsichords, fortepianos, kotos and all manner of guitars and ukuleles – tuned in just intonation with, not surprisingly, “an emphasis on narrow – or smaller than normal – intervals.” Most of the action seems to take place within the limits of various minor thirds (I’m reminded of Beckett’s line about living “the space of a door that opens and shuts”), and I’d be curious to see how the composer has notated it rhythmically, being totally unable to understand the mention in the promo blurb to “epistemic tools to work with rhythm that reflect traditional Icelandic prosody.” At its busiest it plinks merrily away like a cross between Harry Partch and 70s Ligeti (though not as rhythmically regular as either), but when the texture thins out – and “Horpma I” gets really sparse about halfway through – Cage comes to mind. As for the just intonation, well, I’ve never really quite got into it, myself, though my good buddies Guy Livingston and Bob Gilmore have been extolling its virtues for years. I do agree though with Frank Denyer’s remark in his PT interview, that it imparts a very specific colour – “I started thinking that when you have a very fine pitch difference of a few cents, you don’t hear it as pitch – you hear it as a timbre modification” – and there’s certainly no shortage of colour in these two pieces, even if they do, after a while, try the patience somewhat.–DW

http://www.paristransatlantic.com/magazine/monthly2011/06jun_text.html#10

***

On June 28th 2011 Nicholas Zettel published this review in Foxy Digitalis:

According to Guðmundur Steinn Gunnarsson’s bio, the Icelandic composer works to create music that “builds clear rhythms without a pulse or meter.” His piece, Horpma (Carrier Records), executes this ideal by utilizing non-standard notation and specific instructions flowing across a computer screen.  The instructions are posted for six performers and 27 plucked and hammered string instruments.  True to the unorthodox method and presentation of the two parts of this piece, Gunnarsson unfolds an unpredictable, stark set that flows between sparse and cramped rhythms, relentless, fragmented chatter and droning folk music.

Six artists and musicians perform Gunnarsson’s piece, and the density of the 27 stringed instruments establishes a strange sense of comfort at certain moments, as individual rhythmic strands momentarily collide.  Certain rhythmic strands early in the piece suggest the chord progression of a song, or a patterned instrumental passage.  Even if these passages vanish quickly to unfamiliar and difficult segments, the piece constantly compels the listener to keep working through the piece, as though the listener were flowing across the computer screens with the instructions for the performers.

Horpma utilizes silence or resting periods effectively in the middle of the 32-minute first part.  As the second part opens with an immediate urgency and fast pace, the radical break between silent passages and frantic plucking and hammering offers one of the most percussive sequences of the release.  Over multiple listens, I found myself returning to the actual split between the two parts of the release, building anticipation for the engaging closing through the preceding maddening silence.  Each listen seems to present a different reward, and it’s almost as though the rhythms are different each time you hear the piece.  Catching another note here-and-there shifts your understanding or perception of the fragile compositions.

Gunnarsson’s Horpma is direct and engaging, enough to reward the listener for sticking with the piece through any difficult moments.  Apart from any conceptual triumphs, the piece succeeds due to the performers’ ability to execute a “score” that provides all sorts of suggestions and memories about music to the listener.  Art and folk correspond in the execution of Gunnarsson’s goals, resulting in a remarkably accessible conceptual piece.

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In the Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter – April 22nd, 2011

http://www.dtmgallery.com/Main/news/Newsletter-2011-04-22.html

GUDMUNDUR STEINN GUNNARSSON – Horpma (Carrier 09; USA) Personnel: Gudmundur Steinn Gunnarsson on guitars, chumbuz (Turkish banjo/oud-like instrument) & langspil (bowed zither), Charity Chan on piano & harpsichord, Kanoko Nishi on koto, Kyomitsu Odai & Nicole Reisnour on harpsichords & piano and Robert Reynisson on guitars, ukuleles & small plucked instruments. This is a mostly Icelandic ensemble except for Montreal-based pianist Charity Chan. It is pretty rare for a six-piece ensemble in which all but one musician plays harpsichord or piano. The relatively new Carrier label specializes in mostly modern classical music or some sort of drone or electronic-based music. The music on this odd yet enchanting disc falls somewhere in between. Strange, plucked, bent-note, minimal yet somehow focused. Mechanical like a clock slowly breaking down, starting, stopping and then adding notes as the tempo carefully increases. Certain notes are magnified and held up for inspection. Slowly certain themes or patterns emerge, certain combinations of notes point to subliminal direction. This disc consists of two pieces, one around 32 minutes and the second about 13 minutes. The second piece is more sped up and nearly frantic in part like machine that has been wound up too tightly. The somewhat nervous pace makes this music more intense and engaging as if we can’t wait to see what will happen next… Another review no doubt about that. – Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery

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On July 24th 2011 Thomas R. Erdmann wrote in the Jazz Review:

Composer, guitarist, harpsichordist, performer on the chumbuz and langspil, as well as music conceptualist Guðmundur Steinn Gunnarsson is from Reykjavik, Iceland. His background includes time studying composition at Mills College with forward thinkers Alvin Curran, Fred Frith and John Bischoff, as well as time studying in Iceland with Atli Ingólfsson and numerous other Icelandic composers. He has also participated in masterclasses with Helmut Lachenmann, Tristan Murail, Clarence Barlow and the music conceptualist/philosopher Pauline Oliveros.

Gunnarsson’s music has been performed by Ensemble Adapter (DE), l’Arsenale (IT), Defun (FI), Njútón (IS), Arteriol (NO), Quartet Opabinia (US), Zapolski Quartet (DK), Duo Harpverk (IS), Shayna Dunkelmann and Tinna Þorsteinsdóttir, as well as in festivals such as MATA (US), Time of Music (FI), Thingamajigs Festival (US), Reno Interdisciplinary Arts Festival (US), Frum (IS), Dark Music Days (IS), Nordic Music Days (2009 and 2010), Ung Nordisk Musik and venues such as The Stone (US), Empty Bottle (US), Literaturhaus (DK), Wendel (DE), Skånes konstforretning (SE), Stanford and Princeton Universities (US). Gunnersson is a founding member of the S.L.Á.T.U.R. experimental composers collective in Iceland. Gunnarsson is winner of the National Radio of Iceland Composition Prize for the 80th anniversary celebration of the institution.

The music on this disc comprises only two tracks on which the six musicians all play single line plucked notes on instruments like harpsichords, ukuleles, non-amplified guitars, pianos, the koto, etc. The concept behind the music is a new rhythmic foundation where the rhythms are meted out so as to reflect traditional Icelandic prosody, a concept that does not fit neatly into standard notation. As such, the performers follow highly specific instructions that flow across a computer screen. In order to perform this highly complex music Gunnarsson enlisted the talents of a number of 20th and 21st century contemporary musicians such as Charity Chan, Kanoko Nishi, Robert Reynisson, Nicole Reisnour, and Kyomitsu Odai.

Just because music contains improvisation does not make it jazz. Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Mendelssohn were known as great improvisers in their day and they certainly did not play what we would call jazz. While this music does have a number of elements of improvisation within it, it is more properly classified as contemporary avant-garde 21st century compositional music.

When one listens to Bjork one necessarily enters a musical world different, yet related, to the one encompassed by Western music. The same can be said of the music of Bartok. That is true here as well. With overtones of compositional style that reflect Philip Glass during his 1983 “Koyaanisqatsi,” Life Out Of Balance period, Gunnarsson’s music is not something one listens to casually. Neither tonal nor modal, the music is still organized around harmonic principals.

To most this will sound like music for transcendental meditation, but what it really is is the new in contemporary classical composition.

http://www.jazzreview.com/index.php/reviews/latest-cd-reviews/item/28405-horpma-by-

***

Guillaume Belhomme wrote in le son du grisli
Guðmundur Steinn Gunnarsson : Horpma (Carrier, 2011)
A côté du compositeur Guðmundur Steinn Gunnarsson, cinq autres musiciens (dont Charity
Chan et Kanoko Nishi) sont à entendre sur Horpma. Cette pièce en deux temps ordonne le
concours de 27 instruments à cordes pour défendre au mieux une musique espiègle pour être en
décalage perpétuel. Les motifs que se repassent guitares et clavecins, piano et harpe, ukulele et
langspil, déclenchent au fil des secondes une œuvre singulière, faite autant d’insistances que de
beaux accidents.

http://grisli.canalblog.com/tag/Lee%20Noyes

***
On May 1st 2011 Luca Pagani wrote in the Italian All About Jazz:
Il suono dei plettri sulle corde cela sempre il movimento dei
muscoli delle braccia, delle dita del musicista. Un
movimento che può essere circolare, automatico – anzi
automatizzato. Come a nascondere la presenza fisica stessa
del musicista, della mano che “attacca” le corde, del
cervello e della mente che hanno premeditato ed eseguito
l’azione sonora.
Si vorrebbe in questo modo – escludendo la corporeità dell’uomo – raggiungere
una connessione istintiva e drammatica con elementi magici e spirituali,
esautorando ancora una volta le regole della composizione, della notazione,
dell’armonia della musica occidentale.
Due sole tracce, solo suoni ripetuti con implacabile irregolarità, solo corde
stridenti con lievi differenze di intensità, clavicembali, chitarre, langspil
(strumento a tre corde della tradizione nordica), fortepiano, arpe, ukulele,
koto. Strumenti che diventano protagonisti al posto dei musicisti, a realizzare
un grande desiderio di non-esistenza, che può essere interpretato come ascesi,
volontà di potenza e dominio sullo strumento e sul suono o semplice viltà.
Gudmundur Steinn Gunnarson ha studiato composizione con Alvin Curran, Fred
Frith e John Bischoff e da questi ha imparato senz’altro una cosa
fondamentale: non imitare la musica dei maestri e fare quello che si vuole.
Il linguaggio sonoro è quasi totalmente assente. La partitura è talmente scarna
e meccanica che ogni ascoltatore potrà decidere a suo piacimento se queste
note rigate e ripetute significhino qualcosa oppure nulla. Rimane comunque
un’altra ipotesi: questa musica potrebbe risultare ancora troppo “precoce” per i
contemporanei, oppure totalmente insensata per ascoltatori di certe latitudini o
perfino per l’ascoltatore umano e quindi essere dedicata e scritta per una
qualche forma di divinità, per il mondo naturale o animale.
Solo in questi casi – la missione esplorativa nella costruzione di nuova musica –
sarebbe compiuta. In caso contrario, per noi, è molto difficile giudicarla.
Visita il sito di Gudmundur Steinn Gunnarsson.
http://italia.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=6940

***********

Concert reviews . . .

On April 23rd 2013 Steve Smith wrote in the New York Times the following article:

In Iceland, a Festival of Present and Future

Ilan Volkov’s Tectonics Festival in Reykjavik, Iceland

REYKJAVIK, Iceland — Visitors to Thingvellir National Park, just over 30 miles outside of Reykjavik, can stand on the North American continental plate one minute, and Eurasia the next, by simply crossing a rocky gorge: it’s a divergent boundary where the world’s face is ripping apart slowly. In Reykjavik a different kind of upheaval was evident last weekend, as the Iceland Symphony Orchestra presented its second annual Tectonics Festival at the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center here on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The festival also engaged in shifting borders, but convergence, rather than separation, was the chief process in play.

Approaching historic Reykjavik by the main harbor road, every traveler will encounter Harpa, a glittering iceberg of a building designed by Olafur Eliasson and built by Henning Larsen Architects. The building’s tilted glass-box surfaces and tinted windows play marvels with sunlight; at night, colored lights dance across its face.

Begun by a private company and nearly ended by the 2008 banking crisis, Harpa was completed as a public project. Planned amenities like a hotel and an apartment building were abandoned. But the main center opened in May 2011: a symbol of Iceland’s resilience for many, a lavish reminder of past excesses for some.

This visionary space ideally suits Tectonics, the brainchild of Ilan Volkov, the Iceland Symphony’s 36-year-old Israeli chief conductor and music director. Questions posed by Mr. Volkov on the festival’s Web page summarize his intent: “How can an orchestra, the 19th-century beast, be more radical and experimental? Is it possible?”

As is true at the New York Philharmonic’s Contact! series, fragmentation is one option. The orchestra played just one concert at full strength, on Friday night in Eldborg (literally, Fire Castle), the Harpa complex’s gorgeous, acoustically stunning 1,800-seat auditorium. Alongside Magnus Lindberg’s buoyant Clarinet Concerto, with Chen Halevi as the vivacious soloist, were striking premieres by Icelandic composers: Gudmundur Steinn Gunnarsson’s glistening “Grafgata”; Atli Ingolfsson’s woozy, bristling Piano Concerto, with the splendid pianist Vikingur Olafsson; and “Under Takes Over,” a mysterious sequence of floating tones and lighting effects by Hildur Gudnadottir.

Ms. Gudnadottir, a cellist and vocalist best known to ambient-music devotees, was among several guests whose careers mostly lay outside of classical music circles. Others included the violist Eyvind Kang and the vocalist Jessika Kenney, American performers whose work fuses elements of early music, Asian classical styles, black metal and improvisation; Vicki Bennett, a British artist who creates media-collage art under the name People Like Us; and Eli Keszler, an American composer, percussionist and installation artist.

The festival’s principal guest was the composer Christian Wolff, the last surviving member of the so-called New York School surrounding John Cage and Morton Feldman. Not principally known for orchestral works, Mr. Wolff joined members of the Iceland Symphony, Mr. Olafsson, Mr. Kang and other guests in several chamber concerts spread among Harpa’s striking recital halls. Combined, the programs spanned Mr. Wolff’s career, from the spare, seminal “Nine” (1951) to the fitful “Dijon” (2012-13).

Fengjastrutur, an Icelandic ensemble that specializes in unorthodox works, offered imaginative accounts of Mr. Wolff’s “Metal and Breath,” “Stones” and “Groundspace” alongside its own giddily absurdist creations, involving gunshots, a noisy swap meet and a belly flop into a rubber kiddie pool. The group’s realization of Mr. Wolff’s text piece “Pit Music,” done outdoors in the hole where Harpa’s hotel was to have stood, was the first time Mr. Wolff had ever seen the piece enacted, according to a representative of his publisher, Edition Peters.

Some of the festival’s greatest pleasures came in witnessing Mr. Wolff’s delight as he watched two of his works determinedly undertaken by youth ensembles in Harpa’s spacious lobby: Kammerkor Suderlands in “Wobbly Music,” on Friday, and the Icelandic National Youth Band in “Burdocks,” on Saturday.

Those performances and others showed the extent to which Mr. Volkov meant to celebrate Harpa by using its magnificent spaces and resources to their fullest. On Thursday members of the youth band marched through lobbies on the building’s various levels, bouncing Vinko Globokar’s clambering “Crocs en jambe” against sleek surfaces and angular niches. On Friday the Icelandic Flute Ensemble and its members’ young students set the main lobby aglow with Henry Brant’s haunting “Mass for June 16.”

Cross-genre collaborations featured prominently throughout Tectonics. On Thursday Mr. Volkov conducted the Iceland Symphony, Kammerkor Suderlands and Skuli Sverrisson, a bass guitarist and soundscaper, in “Concealed Unity,” a sublimely ritualistic, pan-cultural work by Mr. Kang and Ms. Kenney. That evening Mr. Kang and Ms. Kenney improvised sensitively with Mr. Sverrisson, Mr. Wolff and Ms. Gudnadottir.

Still later that night, and again on Friday, the Icelandic ensemble Duo Harpverk played Mr. Keszler’s “Breaker — Neum” along with one of his rattling, moaning piano-wire installations. Ms. Kenney participated in breathtaking accounts of two pieces by Feldman, “Voice and Instruments 2” and “For Franz Kline,” on Friday night, shared with a set of her original works with Mr. Kang.

Spread over two long nights and one well-packed day, Tectonics could feel breathless, with little time to reflect between events. Intimate recitals, a solo performance by People Like Us and a closing event that included the former Sigur Ros keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson were well filled, but audiences for the Eldborg concerts seemed woefully sparse.

Still, any concert of modern works and premieres that draws more than a hundred listeners can’t be deemed a failure, especially in a nation whose population is a fraction of New York’s. Plus, the space was needed for practical reasons. Almost everything performed in Eldborg, notably “Concealed Unity” and Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s ghostly “Into — second self,” dispersed players to balconies surrounding the audience, and used the hall’s adjustable acoustic panels and doors.

Through it all, Mr. Volkov was tireless and omnipresent, not only conducting and performing, but also giving informal chats, moving furniture and directing traffic. In May he will introduce a second Tectonics festival in Glasgow, where he is the principal guest conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Details for another Tectonics event, to take place in Tel Aviv in June, have not been revealed.

How well the concept will travel remains to be seen. But a complex as visionary and audacious as Harpa begs for an equally bold signature event, and Tectonics fit the bill.

Also found in:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/24/arts/music/ilan-volkovs-tectonics-festival-in-reykjavik-iceland.html?_r=0

 

On May 11th 2011 Allan Kozinn wrote in the New York Times:

Seven Composers, Seven Countries

The MATA Festival, now in its 13th year, has always been nondogmatic, even antidogmatic. Its focus is young composers, never a monolithic bunch even when they share nationalities and musical backgrounds, and even harder to pigeonhole once you bring them in from around the globe, as MATA’s directors have always done.

The first full-length concert in this year’s festival, on Tuesday evening at Le Poisson Rouge, was aggressively international: its seven composers represented seven countries. But if you were listening for national styles or accents, you listened in vain. These composers were individualists, and their works tilted toward the experimental.

Two pieces stood out. Christopher Adler, the one American on the program, exercised his fascination with Chinese instruments, particularly the sheng (a mouth organ) and the guanzi (an oboe), in the invitingly sinuous “Serpent of Five Tongues” (2009). Using the sheng to produce a chordal backdrop — undulating at first, then more varied — against which the guanzi plays long-lined melodies. Near the end, the guanzi line becomes a jazz-tinged solo in which the instrument’s timbre is softened so radically that it sounds more like a trumpet than an oboe. The expert players were Hu Jianbing on the sheng and Bao Jian on the guanzi.

“Of Trees & Fields & Men” (2011), by Christopher Mayo, a Canadian, was inspired by a verse in the poet Kenneth Patchen’s “Wonderings” that begins with an odd simile: “O ‘listen’ is like an elephant/ Who stalks the woods at night.” The elephant’s weight and gait are captured in the rhythm, texture and vaguely South Asian spirit of this mildly exotic work for large ensemble. Hints of trumpeting and steady, muted cymbal crashes reinforce the image. But Mr. Mayo moves on: toward the end of the work the steady stomp gives way to a lovely, Neo-Romantic violin solo that morphs slowly into a chordal, rhythmic ensemble exploration.

Mr. Mayo’s work was performed by the combined forces of the New York new-music group ACME (the American Contemporary Music Ensemble) and L’arsenale, from Italy. The ensembles also collaborated on “Clinamen, Clinamen, Clinamen” (2008), an abstruse, occasionally whimsical study in shifting timbres by Mauricio Pauly, from Costa Rica.

On its own, L’arsenale gave a robust performance of “Euòi” (2011), a rhythmically sharp-edged work by one of its countrymen, Christian Cassinelli. The heart of the work is a nearly static vocal setting of a fragment from Euripides’ “Bacchae,” but the ear is easily distracted by the chaotic instrumental fabric — accordion, a crunchy electric guitar, trumpet, saxophone and piano — that Mr. Cassinelli wove around it.

The opposite effect animated “Mardigosa” (2009), a spare fantasy by the Icelandic composer Gudmundur Steinn Gunnarsson. Here quirkily repeated vocal syllables commanded the attention, while the players mostly tapped rhythmically on their instruments, occasionally letting loose with a few notes.

ACME’s contributions included “Four Flash Fear” (2007), a generally squeaky (lots of eerie, artificial harmonics) string quartet by Nicolas Tzortzis, from Greece, and “Los Tiempos del Alma” (2008), an arresting duet for flute and cello, each oscillating between sound effects and conventional themes, by Patricia Martínez, from Argentina.

The MATA Festival runs through Thursday at Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street, Greenwich Village; (212) 505-3474, lepoissonrouge.com.

A version of this review appeared in print on May 12, 2011, on page C6 of the New York edition with the headline: Seven Composers, Seven Countries.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/12/arts/music/at-mata-festival-christopher-adler-acme-and-others-review.html?_r=2

 

 

…Under Kammersveit Reykjavíkurs konsert uruppfördes guðmundur Steinn Gunnarssons Laur. I detta används en notation där musikerna läser av en tidslinje. Denna teknik har Gunnarsson använt i en rad verk och den har fördelen att den möjliggör en rytmisk och tidslig nyansrikedom. Från en lyssnarposition känns det som att musikerna kan släppa tanken på synkronisation och istället för att stämma av varandras insatser nu helt kan förhålla sig till den egna insatsen. även om verket är glest och sparsmakat instrumenterat, vilket på ett fint sätt tydliggjorde klangliga nyanser, tror jag att det genom denna teknik finns ytterligare potential att fördjupa arbetet med just klangen. Ásgeirsson och Gunnarsson är aktiva i kompositörs- och musikernätverket Slautur vars aktiviteter sker mest i periferin till de etablerade scenerna i Reykjavík. Att på detta sätt få med två i sammanhanget okonventionella verkformer som dessutom var fantastiskt fina och tydligt genomförda kompositioner var en krydda i programmet som gav mersmak.

Andreas Engström
Nutida Musik 4/2011-12
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