Violin Concerto (1969-70)
Symphony No. 2 (1997)
Iceland SO/Paul Schuyler Phillips (concerto); Petri Sakari
ICELAND MUSIC INFORMATION CENTRE ITM 7-12 [62.36]
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.
Helga Sif Gudmundsdóttir
Iceland Music Information Centre
phone +354 568 3122
fax +354 568