Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Te Deum. Sancta Maria. Koma. To Thee, Lord of Heaven and Earth. Benedicte. Verses to the Blessed Virgin. Psalm 121. Thou, God, all-knowing art , and kind. Hear, Heaven's Maker.
Hijomeyki vocal ensemble.
AC Classics SMK1
This disc can be purchased from the importer:
Silver Service CDs, 14 Balmoral Avenue, Shepshed, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE12 9PX
Tel +44(0) 1509 829301  Fax +44(0) 1509 829302

Thorkell Sigurbjornsson was born in Reykjavik in 1936 and has composed a very great deal of music in all genres. The choral tradition is here represented by nine works here mainly of a Roman Catholic persuasion and is a welcome addition to the repertoire. The Te Deum is unusual. It is given a gentle composition as opposed to the usual grand laudatory realisation by composers such as Walton whose Coronation Te Deum is a neglected gem. I do like very much this Icelandic Te Deum. It has a wonderful atmopshere of reverence without austerity. Its simplicity of utterance and diatonic style makes it quite endearing. Perhaps the music being on the same volume range throughout and the extended use of repeated notes may not appeal to everyone but I found it refreshing. The use of the harp as an accompaniment makes us aware that worship need not be shackled to convention.

It is not my place to preach in my reviews but this piece reminds of the New Testament teaching that Our God is a gentle God.

The Sancta Maria does recall plainchant and has a greater tonal contrast and was deeply moving although its simplicity may be a little banal to some people. To my mind, this reverence without cliches is highly commendable.

Koma, or Coming, is rather more advanced. It has some very telling moments but the limitations of tonal contrast within the piece may hinder it. Slow unaccompanied choral music can become tedious. There is one splendid and beautifully controlled climax but the work is a too long to sustain the thematic material. The tessituras are quietly thrilling.

The hymn To Thee, Lord of Earth suggested a hymn of praise and a quicker tempo and some music of vitality. It is not that but very direct.

Verses to the Blessed Virgin also has a direct approach and is often very evocative. the Psalm 121 introduces some welcome contrast but I cannot see how the music gels with the words of great optimism.

It is always difficult to listen to music of the same style and forces for over a hour without some adverse and perhaps unfair conclusions. With this music it is that it is all predominantly slow and even the sheer beauty of the singing dissipates after a while. This raises a problem that perhaps discs should not be confined to one composer particularly when his music represented ploughs the same furrow

But this disc has it moments.. and very beautiful ones, too.



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