Jóhann Jóhannsson first album for Deutsche Grammophon is inspired by the various re-tellings of the old story of the poet Orpheus, a story of death, rebirth, change and the ephemeral nature of memory, the myth can also be read as a metaphor for artistic creation – about the elusive nature of beauty and its relation to the artist, as well as the idea that art is created through transgression.

The album combines acoustic instruments both solo and in ensemble with electronics and the sounds of shortwave radio ‘numbers stations’. It incorporates music for solo cello, organ, string quartet, string orchestra and unaccompanied voices.

The album is tied together structurally by recurring harmonic and melodic elements. Orphée reconciles ambitious orchestral and vocal writing with influences ranging from minimalism, baroque music and electronic music. Jóhann is a contemporary exponent of a tradition that was shaped by composers such as Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Walton or Korngold.

“Orphée is for me about changes: about moving to a new city, leaving behind an old life in Copenhagen and building a new one in Berlin – about the death of old relationships and the birth of new ones”, explains Jóhann.Perhaps this is one if the reasons I was drawn to the Orpheus myth, which is  fundamentally about change, mutability, death, rebirth, the elusive nature of beauty and its sometimes  thorny relation to the artist. This album, my first solo record for six years, is an oblique reflection on personal change.” – Jóhann Jóhannsson

Jóhannsson also notes how Orphée began “The music arrived slowly and appeared ready to wait to discover its own form”. The album’s musical ideas, he continued, emerged from a series of simple, but memorable contrapuntal themes.Many of them have some kind of ascending harmonic momentum. I spent a lot of time shaping these ideas into different versions and variations. They slowly mutated over a long gestation period of several years and were transformed and transfigured into the individual pieces on the album.”

For your listening pleasure:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlftMNmDH00&w=560&h=315]

 

In Summary: A beautiful album that ranges from the delicate and subtle to full rousing compositions, all are very emotive pieces which I feel have a certain sadness emanating through them, this being intentional or not gives it a powerful sombre narrative. Jóhann Jóhannsson continues to raise the bar in neo-classical and contemporary scores that one can only wait in anticipation for his next venture. Well worth your time. Orphée

 

Orphée features:

Jóhann Jóhannsson: piano, electronics, pipe organ, electric organs

Hildur Guðnadóttir: cello

American Contemporary Music Ensemble

AIR Lyndhurst String Orchestra, conducted by Anthony Weeden

Theatre of Voices, conducted by Paul Hillier

 

Track listing:

 

  1. Flight From The City
  2. A Song For Europa
  3. The Drowned World
  4. A Deal With Chaos
  5. A Pile Of Dust
  6. A Sparrow Alighted Upon Our Shoulder
  7. Fragment I
  8. By The Roes, And By The Hinds Of The Field
  9. The Radiant City
  10. Fragment II
  11. The Burning Mountain
  12. De Luce Et Umbra
  13. Good Morning, Midnight
  14. Good Night, Day
  15. Orphic Hymn

 

Live dates:

 

Oct 16th 2016, US, Chicago – Thalia Hall –

Oct 18th 2016, US, Minneapolis – The Cedar –

Oct 19th 2016, US, Toronto – Danforth Music Hall

Oct 20th 2016, US, Montreal – Cinquième Salle –

Oct 21st 2016, US, Boston – David Friend Recital Hall-

Oct 23rd 2016, US, Brooklyn – Cathedral of St. Joseph –

Dec 1st 2016, DE, Berlin – Funkhaus – tickets on sale Aug 20th

Dec 2nd 2016, NL, Nijmegen – Doornroosje  –

Dec 3rd 2016, DK, Copenhagen – Bremen Theater –

Dec 4th  2016, NL, Amsterdam – Paradiso –

Dec 5th 2016, BE, Leuven – 30CC –

Dec 6th 2016, FR, Paris – L’alhambra –

Dec 7th 2016, BE, Hasselt – CCHA –

Dec 9th 2016, UK, London – Barbican – 

Feb 10th 2017, DE,  Hamburg – Elbphilharmonie –

Mar 25th 2017, US, Durham – Baldwin Auditorium –

Apr 17th 2017, US, Los Angeles – Walt Disney Concert Hall – on sale Aug 21st 2016

Apr 18th 2017, US, San Francisco –  Regency Ballroom

Apr 20th 2017, US, Seattle – Nordstrom Recital Hall