• Páll Ragnar Pálsson

Páll Ragnar Pálsson: Quake

Páll Ragnar Pálsson (1977) holds a PhD from the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre where he studied composition with Helena Tulve. In his doctoral thesis Páll Ragnar researched a 17th century manuscript of early Lutheran music from the West-Fjords of Iceland under the guidance of Estonian musicologist Urve Lippus, whose term “linear thinking in music” reflects in Páll’s own compositions. Páll music, inspired by East-European art music, can be described as organic linear transformations with a spiritual undertone. In his youth Páll used to play in the indie rock band Maus. His ideas on sound can to some extent be traced back to that period. Páll’s violin concerto Nostalgia was awarded as composition of the year at Icelandic Music Awards 2013. Last summer he released his debut album by the same name under Bad Taste Records. Páll teaches composition at Iceland Academy of the Arts and is a member of the board of the Composers Society of Iceland.

About Quake
The cello concerto Quake was commissioned by the Elbphilharmonie Orchestra of the North German Broadcasting Service and the Los Angelels Philharmonic and dedicated to Sæunn Þorsteinsdóttir.

She premiered the work with the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg in February last year with conductor Jonathan Stockhammer. The concerto was consecutively performed in Los Angeles with the Philharmonic with conductor Daníel Bjarnason. Páll Ragnar´s work are often seeded by his thoughts of material beyond the music world. He is often preoccupied by the powers of nature and simultaneously the correspondent elements in the human soul. He chose the following description from the novel The Big Quake (Stóri skjálfti) by Auður Jónsdóttir, as a prelude to the cello concerto:

“For a thousand years, tension amassed in the lava, only to break apart in the blink of an eye during a great quake when the rock under my feet ruptured and fossils and silvery crystals broke through the surface, events long past entombed in age-old laws of minerals before unknown geysers erupted and everything that had been became something new – the landscape would never be the same. I stare into the abyss, into the chasm in my own life, and hear it shattering all around me.”