Magic of Centuries Past

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Date Location Price
3 Nov 2021 » 20:00 » Wednesday Eldborg | Harpa 2.900 – 7.500 kr.
  • Program

    John Dowland If My Complaints Could Passions Move
    Benjamin Britten Lachrymae
    Thomas Adès 1. Les Amusements –
    from Three Studies from Couperin
    Maurice Ravel La Valse

  • Conductor

    Eva Ollikainen

  • Soloist

    Þórunn Ósk Marínósdóttir

  • Soloist

    Benedikt Kristjánsson

  • Host

    Halla Oddný Magnúsdóttir

  • Harpist

    Katie Buckley

The music of the past can inspire the present in a variety of ways. The work of 20th- and 21st-century composers runs the gamut: from stately arrangements to bold re-creations – or even cynical deconstructions that shake the old foundations. 

This concert features masterworks that in one way or another use older music as a point of departure. Benjamin Britten wrote his viola work Lachrymae in 1950, drawing on John Dowland’s lute song dating from 1597 and calling his own work a “meditation” on its predecessor. The solo part is played by the Iceland Symphony's principal violist Þórunn Ósk Marinósdóttir, who is also a member of the well-known quartet Siggi Strings. 

In his Three Studies from Couperin, written in 2006, Thomas Adès draws on three keyboard pieces by French Baroque composer François Couperin. In the words of one critic, Adès “looks at the music as if through a kaleidoscope, the shattered pieces of the original tumbling around like glinting fragments of coloured glass.” This is an ideal warm-up for Adès’ visit to Iceland in November, when he conducts his own piano concerto with Víkingur at the keyboard. 

Maurice Ravel’s La valse is one of the composer’s most beloved orchestral works, and with good reason. In this scintillating work, Ravel intersperses snippets from lovely Viennese waltzes with more aggressive gestures, creating tension that escalates with every measure that passes. Some listeners interpret La valse as Ravel’s coming to terms with the Austrian Empire after the horrors of World War I, as the waltz gestures become almost caricatures in the composer’s hands. Be that as it may, the work is magnificent, and its performance under the baton of Eva Ollikainen is not to be missed.