Processions

by Daníel Bjarnason

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    "Bedroom Community (whose last release was Ben Frost’s By the Throat), has shown remarkable prescience in choosing this album as its first release of 2010. The year may be in its infancy, but to this reviewer, Processions is already the one to beat." —The Silent Ballet review
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    — all sounds to silence come I: listen! (6:02)
    — all sounds to silence come II (12:39)

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about

PROCESSIONS:
Blurring the line between electronic and chamber music—a familiar style for the Icelandic Bedroom Community collective—the constructions of this recording’s emotional triggers are wholly unique. In Daníel Bjarnason's Processions, the composer marshals all the technical forces at his disposal to accomplish a musical goal rather than an ideological statement.

Daníel Bjarnason is 'the other classical composer' on our label, a throne he now shares with the omnipresent Nico Muhly. Daníel and Nico may both conjure their magic and craft via black dots on manuscript paper and swinging of the arms & upper-body, but their music is as fundamentally different from each other's as it is from that of Ben Frost or Sam Amidon. If anything else connects it—apart from allowing me to cast my own spell on it—it is that it is all brand-new; taking nothing as given while being fully informed of the past and the possibilities of now. As the fifth member of Bedroom Community, Daníel Bjarnason promises to share his bewitching alchemy with our troupe and our listeners.
—Valgeir Sigurðsson

Daníel Bjarnason’s music is so intelligently crafted, it makes you want to pause the concert every second and look at a score.  At the same time, the craft whizzes by organically, and you don’t have enough time to pause and contemplate.  His music is thoughtful without being overthought, and obsessive without being persnickety.  As an outsider in the Icelandic music scene, I've observed that Daníel is a musician trusted by all: he is just as happy and effective conducting the Icelandic opera as he is strolling down the street; one night, I saw him fidget with a new arrangement of All Sounds to Silence Come and then rush off to conduct a series of ecstatically huge arrangements for the band Hjaltalín. His album is just a small peek into the life of his mind.
—Nico Muhly


Bow to String, composed for multi-tracked cello, was written for Sæunn Þorsteinsdóttir. This is a piece that not only evokes feelings of tension or tenderness, it dares to signal them.  The unapologetically, relentlessly direct harmonic progression grounding “sorrow conquers happiness”and the melody singing out in the concluding “Air To Breath” lay themselves bare, inviting the audience into the score by demonstrating an awareness of emotion without crossing over into irony. The violently percussive performance techniques, the moments of ghostly timbre or asynchronous attack, are not there as commentary on the piece’s emotional vocabulary but as an extension thereof. 

Processions, Bjarnason’s second concerto written for pianist Víkingur Ólafsson, performs a similar balancing act of self-consciousness versus earnest appeal in both its genre and harmonies. True to the archetype of the concerto form, Processions begins with an extravagant statement; a statement Bjarnason takes to new heights in his thunderous exposition “In Medias Res.”  Its subsequent development recalls a traditional Slavic concerto, remarkable for its virtuosic elements and deeply earnest melodies. The propulsive rhythms of the last movement (“Red-Handed”), like the syncopations in "Bow to String", project a certain quasi-primitive energy reminiscent of electronic or rock music. 

"Skelja", a darker, more introspective score for harp and percussion, in a sense suggests what might remain behind if the comforts of form and more overt forms of expression were somehow extracted from Bow to String and Processions.  The dense texture of the electronic cello choir and the massed resources of the orchestra are replaced with the strict economy of a plucked and e-bowed harp.  But even here, glimpsed in the harp’s obscurity and the percussion’s subtle halos of color, the style of the composer, now introverted, persists.

credits

released 01 February 2010

All music Composed and Conducted by Daníel Bjarnason

Produced and Mixed by Valgeir Sigurðsson

Bow to String
Sæunn Þorsteinsdóttir: Cello (or 'an infinite number of cellos')
Valgeir Sigurðsson: Programming on 1st movement, Sorrow conquers happiness

Processions
Iceland Symphony Orchestra
Víkingur Heiðar Ólafsson: Piano
Daníel Bjarnason: Conductor

Skelja
Katie Buckley: Harp
Frank Aarnink: Percussion

Iceland Symphony Orchestra: 1st Violin: Sigrún Eðvaldsdóttir, Zbigniew Dubik, Martin Frewer, Bryndís Pálsdóttir, Júlíana Elín Kjartansdóttir, Gunnhildur Daðadóttir, Mark Reedman, Sigríður Hrafnkelsdóttir, Pálína Árnadóttir, Hildigunnur Halldórsdóttir, Rósa Guðmundsdóttir, Magdalena Dubik 2nd Violin: Ari Þór Vilhjálmsson, Margrét Þorsteinsdóttir, Þórdís Stross, Christian Diethard, Roland Hartwell, Ólöf Þorvarðsdóttir, María Weiss, Ingrid Karlsdóttir, Kristján Matthíasson, Joanna Koziura Viola: Þórunn Ósk Marinósdóttir, Sarah Buckley, Guðrún Þórarinsdóttir, Kathryn Harrison, Eyjólfur Alfreðsson, Sesselja Halldórsdóttir, Herdís Anna Jónsdóttir, Þórarinn Már Baldursson Cello: Sigurgeir Agnarsson, Hrafnkell Orri Egilsson, Margrét Árnadóttir, Lovísa Fjeldsted, Bryndís Björgvinsdóttir, Ólöf Sesselja Óskarsdóttir, Auður Ingvadóttir Doublebass Hávarður Tryggvason, Dean Ferrell, Jóhannes Georgsson, Þórir Jóhannsson, Gunnlaugur Torfi Stefánsson Flute: Áshildur Haraldsdóttir, Melkorka Ólafsdóttir Oboe: Daði Kolbeinsson, Peter Tompkins Clarinet: Rúnar Óskarsson, Sigurður I. Snorrason Bassoon:Rúnar Vilbergsson, Brjánn Ingason Horn: Joseph Ognibene, Emil Friðfinnsson, Stefán Jón Bernharðsson, Lilja Valdimarsdóttir Trumpet: Ásgeir Steingrímsson, Einar Jónsson, Eiríkur Örn Pálsson Trombone: Sigurður Þorbergsson, Jón Halldór Finnsson, David Bobroff Tuba: Finnbogi Óskarsson Harp: Elísabet Waage Timpani: Eggert Pálsson Percussion: Steef van Oosterhout, Frank Aarnink, Kjartan Guðnason


Engineered by Valgeir Sigurðsson
Additional engineers Paul Evans & Sturla Mio Þórisson
Editing Paul Evans, Daníel Bjarnason, Valgeir Sigurðsson

Bow to String & Skelja recorded at Greenhouse Studios, Reykjavík

Processions recorded at Háskólabíó, Reykjavík
Tonmeister: Árni Heimir Ingólfsson
Sound consultant: Sveinn Kjartanson at Sýrland Mobile

Mixed and mastered at Greenhouse Studios by Valgeir Sigurðsson
Studio manager: Sturla Mio Þórisson
Intern: Johann Strübe

Photography by Börkur Sigþórsson
Graphic design by Jónas Valtýsson
Liner notes by Daniel Johnson

This is a Bedroom Community Record

www.danielbjarnason.net
www.bedroomcommunity.net
________

Thank you:

Valgeir, Sigga Sunna, Paul, Míó, Ben and Nico and everyone else at Bedroom Community. This album would not exist if it weren’t for you.

Sveinn Kjartansson, Árni Heimir, Raggi Kjartans, Davíð Þór Jónsson, Pétur Ben, Ólafur Axelsson, Finnur bróðir, Ísafold, Kjartan og María, Saga Sig.
Sæunn og Víkingur.
Clinton Street.
Frank og Katie.
Everyone at the Iceland Symphony.
My family.
My friends.
Elísabet Alma.


Additional info for "All sounds to silence come"
Isafold Chamber Orchestra
cond. Daníel Bjarnason
Recorded in Skálholt Church, August 2007.
Record producer, sound and balance engineer, editing and mixing:
Michael Silberhorn

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Daníel Bjarnason

Icelandic composer Daníel Bjarnason has garnered widespread acclaim for his debut album, Processions. His versatility as an arranger and conductor has led to collaborations with with a broad array of musicians outside the classical field, including Sigur Rós & Efterklang. ... more

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