Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Violin Concerto (1969-70)
Symphony No. 2 (1997)
Interview with composer
Sigrún Edvaldsdóttir (violin)
Iceland SO/Paul Schuyler Phillips (concerto); Petri Sakari (symphony)

The Thórarinnsson violin concerto is an affirmation of not so much avant-garde tendencies as avant-garde confidence - over-wheening and written with focus on the writer rather than the audience. It has all the hallmarks of a work from the palisades of Schoenberg's most embittered dogma. The work would not be out of place alongside the Schoenberg violin concerto. This is the Schoenberg of discontinuity, a concatenation of explosive and wiry concepts, slate dry and a natural partner for so many such concertos written in the 1950s and 1960s. There is no trace here of the lyrical Schoenberg to be found in Gurrelieder or Verklärte Nacht.

The Second Symphony is a somewhat different matter. This is a work of heart: blood, sinew and muscle tissue. While the violin concerto seems powered by a cyber-heart this shows a fleshy vulnerability touched with the taciturn staff of John Leifs. The work's fury speaks of the rage of the inarticulate and resounds with well known voices from the classical tradition. These voices include Mahler 5 (march fragments), Stravinsky's Rite of Spring and Beethoven symphonies 5 and 7 (13.43). These 'visitors' seem to grind gears with their setting seeming unassimilated.

The disc concludes with an interview with the composer (in Icelandic)

I did not take to this music but we must be grateful that Thorarinnsson is no longer just a name but can be known from this disc.

Rob Barnett

Helga Sif Gudmundsdóttir
Iceland Music Information Centre
Sidumula 34
108 Reykjavik
phone +354 568 3122
fax +354 568 3124

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