Haukur Tómasson


– CD-1068 BIS 2000


The composer:

Haukur Tómasson (Iceland 1960) received his masters degree from the University of California, San Diego. Besides a large body of chamber music, Tómasson´s work includes six orchestral pieces, three concertos and the opera Gudruns 4th Song. His compositions Spírall and Concerto for Violin and Chamber Ensemble were nominated for the Nordic Council´s Music Prize in 1996 and 2000 respectively, and his orchestral piece Strati won the Icelandic National Broadcasting System Music Prize in 1993. Other prizes include the 1996 Bröste Optimistic Prize and the 1998 Icelandic Music Award for Gudrun´s 4th Song. His composition Saga (Fabella) for ensemble won the State Radio’s 70th anniversary competition in 2000.

This CD contains four compositions by the Icelandic composer Haukur Tómasson. The pieces are Concerto for Violin and Chamber Ensemble, Annual Ring, Spiral and Stemma. Sigrún Eðvaldsdóttir plays the solo violin in the Concerto and the ensemble is conducted by Guðmundur Óli Gunnarsson.

The music:
Concerto for Violin and Chamber Ensemble was composed during 1997 for violinist Sigrún Eðvaldsdóttir and the CAPUT Ensemble. The concerto has two pairs of movements, with a short cadenza after the first. In movement one and three the violin and the ensemble are seemingly in different worlds, but both parts are moving in same expanding harmonic circles. Parts two and four have rhytmical energy as the most important element and there the soloist is a leader in a more homogenous web of music.

Árhringur was originally scored for orchestra and was a commission from The North Iceland Symphony orchestra in the village of Akureyri. The title means annual ring but the four movements can also be seen as referring to the four seasons. Movements two and three are connected with a cello solo.

Spírall was composed in 1992 for the Caput Ensemble and is also a cyclical piece. A series of 12 pitches is repeated with slight variations over and over again, and that long row is then used as a base for the composition. Sometimes the material is exposed in a chordlike manner letting the harmonic parameter dominating the music (the arrangement of the pitches into chords being done by ear); at other times the instruments move around these chords lika a cat around hot porridge. Icelands largest newspaper wrote on the premiere of Spírall: „This composition must be regarded as a landmark in the history of icelandic music.”

Stemma is based on an Icelandic folksong. It is a relatively fast and chromatic song with rhythmic complexity. Very untypical indeed, since a lot
of Icelandic folkmusic is slow and melancolic. Fragmenst from the song are repeated and strecthed both horizontally and vertically to the extent that they become irrecognizable. A notation of the original folksong, as sung in the bonustrack on the CD, can be seen in Groves Dictionary, in the entry about Iceland.

© 2000 Haukur Tómasson

The performers
The CAPUT players on this CD are:

Kolbeinn Bjarnasson – flute
Arna Kristín Einarsdóttir – flute (Spiral)
Eydís Franzdóttir – oboe
Guðni Franzson – clarinet
Brjánn Ingason – bassoon
Emil Friðfinnsson – horn
Eiríkur Örn Pálsson – trumpet
Sigurður Þorbergsson – trombone
Steef van Oosterhout – percussion
Helga Bryndís Magnúsdóttir – piano
Guðrún Óskarsdóttir – harpsichord (Spiral)
Sigrún Eðvaldsdóttir – violin
Hildigunnur Halldórsdóttir – violin
Sigurlaug Eðvaldsdóttir – violin
Guðmundur Kristmundsson – viola
Sigurður Halldórsson – cello
Bryndís Halla Gylfadóttir – cello (Spiral)
Richard Korn – double bass.