© Siebe Riedstra, May 2009
Hallgrimsson: Celloconcert op. 30 - Herma for cello and string orchestra Op 17.
Truls Mørk (cello), Scottish Chamber Orchestra conducted by John Storgards.
Ondine ODE 1133-2 • 57' •
Despite a population of only 500,000,
Haflidi was born on the northern
In 1983 he left his position at the SCO to become a full-time composer, and
during the next quarter century, has been slowly building a name for
himself. He has had several commissions from leading orchestras in both
Hallgrimsson is an accomplished painter, and performed one of his first compositions, Solitaire, written for his own instrument, surrounded by his own drawings and paintings. His music shows sensitivity for line, shape and color, and a great affinity with stringed instruments. His first major success, Poemi for violin and string orchestra, was the first in a line of similar compositions, followed by Rima for soprano, Herma for cello, and Ombra for viola, all accompanied by string orchestra.
Herma, the second piece on this CD, was written for Hallgrimsson's successor at the SCO, William Conway, and first performed by him with the SCO and Ivor Bolton in 1995. The title is an old Icelandic word, now most commonly found in a phrase meaning: 'to repeat someone's words'. There is a strong connotation with speech, and the solo part seems written like a long unbroken monologue. The 22 orchestra members occasionally engage in imitation or dialogue, or else provide background material which is built in a free aleatoric fashion, much in the way as devised by Witold Lutoslawski. Save for the occasional outburst, this music sings slowly and quietly, until the last segment where an almost Bartokian liveliness brings the piece to a close.
The CD opens with the Cello Concerto, written in response to a joint commission
from the Oslo Philharmonic, the Iceland Symphony and the Scottish Chamber
Orchestra, and dedicated to Truls Mørk, who gave the first performance
at the Ultima Festival in
It goes without saying that the performance here by Truls Mørk, who has been a lifelong champion of Haflidi Hallgrimsson, is a towering achievement in which every single detail has been worked out carefully. The Scottish Chamber Orchestra has performed a large part of this composer's music on a regular basis, and commits itself wholeheartedly, with the wonderfully sympathetic John Storgårds at the helm. Annotations are lucid and the sound is spectacular.