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A SOLO INSTRUMENTS

 
1982 | BERGING (Consummation) | flute 6’30’’
comment

Probably definable as a youth piece, Berging was written at the time when I dedicated almost as much time to writing poetry as to music. In fact it is written as a sort of musical counterpart to a poem of the same name. Apart from some formal allusions there is no precise correspondency between the two, it is more a question of unity of mood. Both the poem and the music are of somewhat expressionistic character.
For performers: The piece uses some unconventional techniques and some uncomfortable (or impossible) tremolos. It certainly is difficult, but the total effect is lyrical. It has been done by graduating flute students.
main performances
Reykjavík 1983 (Martial Nardeau)
Malmö, September 1983 (Áshildur Haraldsdóttir)
Reykjavík, January 1985 (Kolbeinn Bjarnason)
Stockholm, September 1987 (Áshildur Haraldsdóttir)

1987 | DUE BAGATTELLE | clarinet 6’
comment
Due Bagattelle for clarinet were composed in 1987, while I studied with Davide Anzaghi at the Conservatoiy in Milan. Each of them is based on a spectre of pitches which remains immobile through the whole movement, but moves around these pitches in a certain way. The style may be defined as something between rigorous post-serialism and free jazz.
For performers: Although it is a school piece, the Bagattelle may be considered a fully representative part of my output and have enjoyed quite some success with soloists (in the original, and the modified version, see below). They are very difficult, but the difficulty seems to be rewarding enough. There seems to be no lack of excellent clarinettists capable of rendering such pieces.
main performances
Milan Conservatory, February 1987 (Rocco Carbonara)
Reykjavík, March 1990 (Gudni Franzson)
Milan, December 1993 (Gudni Franzson)
Bologna, July 1998 (Gaspare Tirincanti)
Bergen, June, 2000 (Smith)

1988 | STÁLRÆDA (Steel Sermon) | organ 13’
comment
Stálræda was written on commission from the Reykjavík Cathedral Choir for the Church music festival in 1988, and premiered by Marteinn Hunger Fridriksson.

1990 | A VERSO | solo piano 7’
comment
Literary metrics are based on horisontal and vertical euphony and on the repetition of metric structures. A verso is inspired by prosody and reconstructs in music some of its characteristics such as euphony (in this case based on “syllables” of notepairs) and the metre, based on repetition of articulation structures.
The concept of repetition is at the basis of the whole form so the work may also be defined as a study on repetition on all levels of the musical texture.
main performances
Oslo, 1991 (Edda Erlendsdottir)
Amsterdam, September 8, 1991 (Tomoko Mukaiyama): The Gaudeamus Festival
Reykjavík, July 11, 1993 (S.S.Birgisson)
Bonn, 1993 (S.S.Birgisson)
Cremona, December 16 1993 (Marco Pedrazzini)
Milan (Maria Grazia Bellocchio)
Bergen, June 2000 (James Clapperton)
Reykjavík, August 2000 (James Clapperton)
Trento, November 2000 (Edda Erlendsdottir)

1993 | ACTIO | cello 5’
comment
Actio was written on commission from the Arts Festival of Hafnarfjördur in Iceland and premiered there by Bryndis Halla Gylfadóttir. The title refers to that part of classical rhetoric which has to do with the speaker’s gestures. The piece tries to tread that narrow path between sincerity and show which characterises a good speaker.
For performers: There are some overly difficult passages in this piece which have prevented me from distributing it. I however intend to make a new and more practical version of it, since I feel its idea deserves it.

1994 | THE ELVE’S OTHER SELF | viola 5’
comment
This piece is a study with complex but repetitive rhythms. To my knowledge it has not yet been performed, which probably means that it is too difficult (especially the beginning), but this has yet to be confirmed.

1998 | BLAST | trumpet 3’30’’
comment
Blast is a short piece written as a birthday present to my brother, Adalsteinn Ingólfsson. The material is quite diatonic, which actually is a consequence of the rhytmic method I use.
For performers: A fanfare in 11/8 metre. Fit for last year trumpet students. A transcription for alto sax also exists.

1998 | FLECTE LAPIS |  keyboard, sampler and computer 13’
Technical requirements
Master keyboard with midi pedal, AKAI sampler mod. 3000 (3200), PowerMac with Max 3.0, mixer (6 channels out), reverb device, 4 speakers.
comment
Flecte Lapis for sampler and keyboard was commissioned by the Agon studios and the Fondazione Gentilucci and realised at the studios in the summer of 1997 and ’98. The commission included the condition that I delivered a short paper on the realisation of this piece. This paper is to be found on the homepage. Despite the complex preparatory work, the piece took on quite a straightforward formal structure, with much emphasis on the overall rhythmical evolution.
For performers: This piece requires a skilled piano/keyboard player, which unfortunately has to play with a click-track most of the time.

main performances
Stockholm, September 1998 (Mårten Landström)
Berkeley, Cal., April, June 2001, (Mei Fang Lin)
Milan, October 2001, (Massimiliano Viel)

2000 |…MA LA MELODIA |  piano 4’
comment
Ma la melodia is an overall ironical conceptual piece, inspired by Pasolini’s lines:
ma la melodia obbliga il cuore e la mente
ad avere come compagno di destino il cazzo;
(L’orecchiabile, from Trasumanar e organizzar)
It is a late-romantic-type tonal piece, with a melody which spelled out in letters forms an Icelandic word…
The piece is dedicated to Icelandic artist and writer Sigurdur Gudmundsson.

2004 | CONO DI FEDE | contrabass 13'
comment
This piece was commissioned by Hávardur Tryggvason with support from the Reykjavík Culture City Fund.  The title means Cone of Belief and may be a little enigmatic, but why shouldn’t it be? On hearing, the work reveals that the four open strings of the contrabass and their natural harmonics play a big role; I wanted to remain in an ambiguous area in between the unmodified, inherent sound of the contrabass (the open strings) and something much more personal, in between the general and the particular, although my own rythmical imprint is all pervading. This is a difficult piece and quite influenced by electric bass technique. In fact, at least half of the piece the bass is played pizzicato.
Main performances
Venice, September 29, 2002 (The Ex Novo Ensemble)

2004 | RADIOFLAKES | accordion 9'
comment
I can’t help seeing the accordion as a forefather of the portable radio, the so-called “ghettoblaster”.  This means that for me it impersonates a struggle between its characteristic rhythmical swing, more aggressive sound-energy and carefree radio-scanning. Writing this piece was as fascinating a trip as sitting in front of the radio as a child, playing with the scanning knob. Radioflakes was written for Frode Haltli upon commission from Radio France.

2006 | BRAIN TRILL | Alto sax 10’
comment 
I wrote Brain Trill for Rolf-Erik Nyström much inspired by his technical and expressive versatility. I guess the piece explores the opposition of firm and floating mental states, but it also is conceived as an extension of the solists physical presence, starting in a hum and ending in a cough. 
main performances
as part of Composition
Oslo, Reykjavík, Huddersfield, Trondheim October 2006

2010 | ETCHING | oboe 7'
comment
The first part of Etching is based on the small trumpet solo Blast. The title obviously refers to the graphic etching technique.  It seemed to me the sharp and insistent lines the oboe sketches in this piece might evoke the character of an etching, and furthermore graphics of this type are necessarily of modest dimensions as this composition.  As concerns the actual contents of this tableau it probably has to do with the connection between obstinacy and creativity

2012 | TRATTO | oboe 2':30''
comment
I am proud to be one of the founders of the Fontana Mix Ensemble, based in Bologna, Italy.  The ensemble organised a mixed concert-party event to celebrate it's ten years of activity.  For that occasion each of the 'local' composers who have worked with the ensemble in the past wrote a solo for a musician of the ensemble.  Brevity was an important requirement as these should just be like post-cards from the composers.  I made a form out of a simple melodic outline which stubbornly remains almost the same, although constantly varied until replaced by a conclusive phrase.  A sort of meditation is the result.  In any case a fairly easy piece to play.

 2012 | ETCHING | violin 7'
comment
It is curious how the old practice of transcribing oboe pieces for violin stole into my oboe solo to generate an independent violin solo.  Since certain elements of the original had to be reinterpreted in the new version one cannot say they are identical, yet they are close enough to bare the same title.  We now have a genealogical tree reaching back to 1998: Blast (trumpet, but also sax or clarinet) ->Blast II (two trumpets) ->Etching (oboe) -> Etching (violin).

 2014 | IDIOCLICK | violin 13'
comment
In Idioclick the performer and his instrument become one. All the music stems from certain gestural patterns of the performer applied to the instrument taken as a sound source defined only by its physical characteristics. I believe noise has never had a bigger part in my work, although it is very soft most of the time. And when pitches appear they start acting almost as just a new type of noise, but they also evoke a distant memory in the instruments history. Due to the low dynamic level of much of the sounds, the performer should consider using a very carefully balanced amplification. There are halls where this is not necessary, and the piece was premiered in a 300 seat hall without amplification with good results.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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B. TWO INSTRUMENTS

| THREE MOUMENTS | 1986 flute and piano 2’30’’
comment
Three Mouments are three quite tonal melodies for medium level flute students.
Main performances
Several performances, often in schools, but also as an encore in concert.


| OPNA | 1991 Bass clarinet and marimba 7’
comment
The two pages of an open book are called opna in Icelandic, but opna also means “to open”. The work was composed beginning with the central part, which constitutes a sort of symmetrical point. After the central part I proceeded to realising the sections towards the beginning and towards the end using the structural potential of the centre.

Despite the almost structuralist appearance of this approach the outer sections hide their relation to the centre, which for the listener seems to be only another part of the form.

Opna was written on request of Nuove Sincronie in Milan for Harry Sparnaay and Johan Faber.

For performers: A willingly virtuosistic piece for both performers.]

main performances

Varese, July 28, 1991 (Harry Sparnaay, cl, Johan Faber, mar)
Paris, January 11, 1992 (Didier Pernoit, cl, Pascal Zavaro, mar) Johan Faber, mar)
Tel-Aviv, 1993

 

| POST SCRIPTUM | 1998 piccolo and piano. 3’

comment
A post scriptum is something you add after the letter is finished, just some short free flowing additions to what you have already said. The piece was written for fiurí›ur Jónsdóttir and was meant to be a PS to a concert she gave in Iceland in November 1998.

 

| BLAST II | 1998 two trumpets or trumpet and delay device 3’30’’

comment 
This piece is a second version of the solo piece Blast for trumpet. The second trumpet is conceived as an echo of the first one. It may be placed at a certain distance from the first one, or it might play the whole piece through with a practice mute. An alternative solution might be playing the piece on one trumpet and using a very precisely adjusted delay device.

 

| FLECTE LAPIS II | 1998 cl (Bass cl) , Keyboard 14’

comment

Given the clear-cut formal structure of Flecte Lapis, and the fact that its material and some of its sounds are derived from a clarinet-like spectre, I envisaged the possibility of adding a solo clarinet part to the practically unchanged sampler part. This version was premiered in Reykjavík in 1998 at the Erkitid Festival, which also commissioned this version.

For performers: While preparing the clarinet part I met with Gudni Franzson. Blame him if this seems to be unplayable. Actually it isn’t. There are no rhytmically overcomplex passages or such, just a lot of special effects and some microtones. The special effects allow some variation in interpretation. Then there is one improvised passage. So the character of the piece is quite “crossover-ish”. Still, I guess you need to be one of those “just-write-it-I’ll-play-it” clarinettists that are around…

main performances

Reykjavík, October 1998 (Gudni Franzson (cl), Snorri S. Birgisson (kb))

Milan, November 20, 1999 (Rocco Carbonara (cl), Aldo Orvieto (kb))

| THE JUGGLER'S TENT | 1999 horn and harp 12’

comment

This piece was written on commission from NOMUS, by request of Sören Hermansson and Erica Goodman. It is divided in four movements which are closely related. The work begins with extremely reduced pitch material, to juggle with it in a fixed rhythmic framework. New notes are added very gradually, and only in the third movement the piece makes use of more than 6 notes. There is a very strict contrapuntal scheme hidden behind all the events, a scheme which only becomes audible in its purest form in the third movement.

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C. TRIOS

1989 | DI VOLTA | vib , mar , pno  6’45’’
comment
Di volta came about as a study on certain compositional methods, in particular on the relation between rhythm and harmony, coincidence and determinism, and gradually became a concert piece with a certain dramatic development. It has been performed only once, at the UNM Festival in Helsinki 1990. At that occasion my programme notes enjoyed at least as much success as the piece: “Di volta was composed in the autumn of 1989. Its idea is a simple chain of notes which gives rise to a chain of chords which generate a chain of events which, if time were slightly more curved, could be made into a necklace for Mrs. Naught,hoping, I do hope she will forgive me for betraying her.
The title has many implications and is quite untranslatable. Read backwards however it says “atlovid”, which is utter nonsense”.

1992 | DUBBLETTER | cl , vc , pno  9’
comment
Dubbletter was composed by commission from Svenska Rikskonserterna in Stockholm for the Kaldalons Trio. The instruments explore diverse ways of playing together: distant and separate, distant but synchronous, close and synchronous, close and separate etc. All this happens on the surface while underneath there is a firm framework of vertical and horisontal pairs of notes that determines the function of all events.
main performances
Härnösand, Stockholm and Växjö, March 1992 (Ingolfsson, Kornblueh, Birgisson)
Njardvik, August 16, 1992 (same)
Reykjavík, October 4, 1992 (same)
Bergen, June, 2000 (Smith, Heim, Clapperton): The Music Factory Festival

Båstad, June 27, 2003

1992 | INVENTIONS IN B FLAT MAJOR AND C MINOR BY BACH | cl , vc , pno 1’
comment
This is simply an arrangement of the two part invention, done as a respectful analysis with exclamation marks here and there. I have prepared but not executed a couple of other such arrangements.

1992 | MUSUBI | tpt , vib (mar) , pno 9’30’’
comment
It is possible to tie a knot on a thread, a reed stalk or some other such material, that will trap a guardian imp and prevent him from leaving his master. If a musical composition is knit together in the right way, one can catch an imp which then forever kicks about in its web. Musubi is based on a net of tones in which many kinds of knots have been tied, in the hope that life will quicken in it. The title of the work alludes to ancient Japanese belief in the power of knots. The work was commissioned by Michio Nakajima of the Mirkk Art Forum in Tokyo
main performances
Reykjavík, February 7. 1993 (The Ymir Ensemble)
Amsterdam (same)
Tokyo (same)

1997 | DONEC VESPER | 3 percussionists
percussion
Player I: Large tambourine on table (ca. 35 cm), Suspended cabaza (or medium maraca), Medium tam-tam (ca. 60 cm) prepared with a bathtub chain or similar hanging from the support and rattling against the shield, Wood block, Tenor drum, Cowbell (e’’), Vibraphone (+bow)
Player II: snare drum, suspended large maraca (or goat-hoofs), hi-hat with tambourine frame (small) on top
temple block (b flat’), gong (b flat), marimba (from c to c’’’’), wrist rattlers on both wrists throughout the piece: choose very small and delicate bells.
Player III: medium tom-tom with tambourine on top, suspended small maraca, sizzle cymbal, brake drum, small log drum, vibraphone (+bow)
comment
While I was preparing my piece for Sisu, my friend Sigfus Dadason (1928-1996) passed away. Since I was planning a short piece which represented a passage from white noise through rhythm to harmony (from object through speech to meaning) I found it particularly appropriate as a homage to the memory of this singular poet. I beleive the circumstances did influence my writing - the piece took on some attributes of ritual music - although it need not be taken as an epitaph.
The title, 'Donec Vesper', comes from the sixth of Virgils eclogues. It literally means 'till Vesper' (the evening star), remembering how the heardsman keeps on singing till the evening star comes and stops him.
The score furthermore bears a quotation from one of Dadasons poems, which roughly translated goes: "Actually, there is no mention of this on the wall"
As concerns the general style of the piece, it is in line with my recent work on the interrelation between rhythm and harmony, although here, due to the duration and character of this piece, they are expressed in more straightforward terms than in most of my other pieces.
Main performances
Harstad, Norway, October 1997 (SISU Percussion Trio)
Reykjavík, May 2001 (Oosterhout, Gretarsson, Palsson)

2002 | TRUST ME | cl , vla , pno 10’
comment
Trust me was written on commission from Svenska Rikskonserter for the Obscura Trio. I seem to be moving away from the traditional conception of chamber music as a subtle formal- and contrapuntal construction, preferring to look at the form just as a sort of song. This means that my form tends to be more simple and the writing perhaps more rude or straightforward. This probably shows in Trust me. As many of my recent works it is built on a stable rhythmical background which is focused in different ways during the piece, and only occasionally is challenged. Likewise, the harmony is actually very foreseeable, but varying in density.
Main performances
Stockholm April 23, 2002
Halmstad May 3 2002
Ronneby May 5 2002
Göteorg August 1, 2002
Linköping August 15, 2002
Skinnskatteberg February 1 2003
Västerås February 2 2003

2006 | COMPOSITION sax , acc , cb 45'
comment
I have generally chosen to discard the problem of sincerity in art, or rather to confine it to a statement such as: "The work itself has a way of being sincere. The author cannot be totally sincere." This is quite a complex matter if we begin thinking of it, especially in regard to such a highly formalized genre as written music is, and especially today in the presence of a myriad of different idioms. I guess that somehow, for each work, we create an author, and that he in some bizarre way could claim to be sincere (if he were real...). But what happens when I put different works together and partly alter their original intentions, when I begin remixing, deviating or mocking the originals? Well, in my case it's a totally natural operation. Already as a child when I burst into tears I was capable of looking into the mirror and making a funny face. I guess I was composing myself, since the word composition simply refers to putting something together and I put a funny face on top of a crying one. However that might be, here we have a cycle by the name of Composition: three solo pieces that may be said to reflect my attitude towards the art of musical composition. We get form and its opposite, placed side by side, in a composition of compositions. Hopefully the totality breeds on the energy released by the friction between its components, and by the friction between them and supposed - , real - , make-believe- , impossible – or violent sincerity. 

The Poing trio was a tremendous source of inspiration for the completion of this work. It is dedicated to the trio. 
main performances
Oslo, Reykjavik, Huddersfield, Trondheim, autumn 2006

| FORGOTTEN STEP | 2008
for recorder, violin and accordeon
comment
This piece was written on commission from the Gaman trio for their Nordic tour in 2008 and 2009.

Forgotten Step may be seen as the attempt to remember an imaginary dance step long forgotten.  One may try different methods to approach it: will it be the rhythm, the melody or maybe the sound or the character which will finally enable you to recall the step?  Once in a while you concentrate on one aspect, seeming you are just about to get it, but then you don't really get on.  Finally it turns out that maybe it wasn't really the dance itself that haunted you but the context and you start concentrating as much on the colour as on the step.  Exactly how all this ends is up to the listener to judge.

 

 

 

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D. FOUR INSTRUMENTS

1997 | DUE BAGATTELLE II | solo cl + 3 or more background instruments 7’
comment
Due Bagattelle for clarinet were composed in 1987. Each of them is based on a spectre of pitches which remains immobile through the whole movement, but moves around these pitches in a certain way. They have been performed in various places in the original version, but in 1997 I thought of adding slight external resonances to the solo part to mark the underlying pitch structure, also introducing some repetitions in the solo part.
For performers: There are various ways of realising the background parts, which are divided in three voices: vla. Vc. Pno. or vn. Vc. Vib (or guitar or harp or cymbalom) etc. A couple of instruments with sustained notes (strings) and at least one with plucked or stricken notes, and also with more than one instrument per voice.
main performances
Amsterdam, May 30, 1998 (Gino Sgroi/Zephyr Ensemble)
Montepulciano, July 1998 (Gaspare Tirincanti/Ensemble MusicAttuale)
Palermo, December 14 1998 (Gino Sgroi/Zephyr Ensemble): The Musica su più dimensioni Festival
Reggio Emilia: The Di Nuovo Musica Festival
Rome, June 17, 2000 (Gino Sgroi/Zephyr Ensemble)

1993 | VINK | picc , cl , vc , pno 3’
comment
On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of my home town, Njardvik, there was a concert wholly dedicated to my music. As a homage I wrote this short festive piece.
For performers: This is not one of my more serious works, although it is seriously fabricated. Occasional piece, quite easy to play.
Main performances
Premiered in Njardvik on August 16 1992 (Nardeau, Ingolfsson, Kornblueh, Birgisson)

1999 | HZH: STRING QUARTET N.1 | (BMG Ricordi) string quartet 16’
comment
The idea at the basis of my first string quartet is that of a landscape which transforms into words, which on their turn transform into verse, and eventually, pure rhythm. The rhythm can then flow into a new landscape and the process can begin over again. In music, the above terms - landscape, speech and verse - easily translate into timbre, harmony and rhythm. The transition between these three aspects of a single material has interested me for quite some time. During my work on the quartet they were symbolized by the German terms Haut, Zunge, Herz, which then became part of the title: HZH. The piece was commissioned by the Musik-Biennale Berlin for the Arditti quartet and premiered in March 1999.
main performances
Konserthaus Berlin, March, 1999 (The Arditti Quartet): Berlin Biennale
NMH, Oslo, October 2001 (same): The Ultima Festival
Otto Braun Saal, Berlin, November 23, 2002 (same): Magma 2002


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E. FIVE INSTRUMENTS

1985 | QUINTET FOR WOODWIND | fl , ob , cl in Bb (cl in A) , hrn , bn 10’
comment
Quintet (subtitled “Der Wahrheit Gewidmet”) was composed for the Icelandic Radio’s composition competition, where it received the first prize. It consists in a series of “images” which do not evolve radically, the variation in time of each image being based mostly on degree of pitch saturation and movement in register. There is not a strong harmonic scheme in the piece. Each of the five movements is however focused on one note of the e minor chord, and this chord lurks behind the music like a ghost.
main performances
Reykjavík, September 1985
Reykjavík, February 4 1998 (Reykjavík Wind Quintet)

1994 | VINK II | picc , cl , vn , vc , pno 4’
comment
The Caput Ensemble had a concert in London in the summer of 1994. They told me with short notice that they needed a short piece to fill in the programme, but they preferred it was for the complete quintet which figured in the concert. I hastily added a violin part and a couple of new passages to Vink from the year before.
main performances
London, June 1994 (Caput Ensemble)
Barcellona, 1995 (same)
Berlin, 1995 (a German group…)
Reykjavik, August 1999 (Atonal Future)

1998 | THE ELVE’S ACCENT | (BMG Ricordi) fl , cl , vn , vc , pno 8’30’’
comment

The Elves’ Accent originated as an arrangement of a solo viola piece entitled The Elves’ other Self, composed in 1994. During the transcription into the quintet form the material soon took another direction, and at the end the new piece had little more in common with its predecessor than the rhythmic structure of the beginning and part of the harmonic matrix. It seemed necessary to me to develop the metric proposition of the beginning of the solo piece with new rigour, undertaking a sort of metric narrative that runs through the whole piece. The metric in fact constitutes a sort of structure of support on which the instrumental ideas are fixed, seeking the borderline between information and redundancy. The harmony is derived from a progression of chords which in itself has a highly preaudible character although this character is seldom revealed.
main performances
Milano, May 12, 2000 (Icarus Ensemble)
Bergen, June 2000 (Ensemble MusicAttuale)
Bologna, June, 2000 (same)
Reykjavík, October 2000 (same)
New York, Toronto, Calgary, October 2000 (Ensemble Caput)
Reykjavík December 2001 (same)

 

2005 | SNAP | bfl . bcl . vn. vc. sampler 6’
comment

Snap is part of a curious project conceived by Alter Ego in collaboration with Pan Sonic, the electro-duet from Finland. Four composers were asked to write short pieces that would be sort of written remixes of Pan Sonic’s music. The pieces are then to be performed in concert, with Pan Sonic commenting them musically and partly remixing them once more. The title of the project is Microwaves. In my piece I borrowed some rhythmic sounds from Altopiiri, Pan Sonic’s cd, put them into my own rhythmic framework and let them form a rhythmic basis for the whole piece. The instruments play simple parts, mostly in contrast to the strong ongoing Pan Sonic sounding rhythm. The result is a hybrid which neither sounds totally like a piece of mine nor totally like a piece by Pan Sonic. A project of the sort was originally to be written by Fausto Romitelli. After he passed away four of his friends took his place and dedicated the result to his memory. Besides myself these composers are Yan Marez, Riccardo Nova and Giovanni Verrando.

2007 | THE BLESSINGS OF MADNESS | flute in G. cl. harp. perc. piano 12’
comment

The Blessings of Madness is mostly based on Trust Me, a trio from 2003. Its form may perhaps be compared to a constant process of unveiling. I never sought a dialogue of contrasting ideas or sections but insisted as long as I could on a particular development where a certain general image is gradually unveiled until it is overstated and a new development begins. The title comes from an article by E.R. Dodds about Plato's view of altered mental states. Main performances: Berlin, Kiel, Hamburg, Reykjavik, May and June 2007, Adapter from Berlin.

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F. CHAMBER ENSEMBLE

CHAMBER ENSEMBLE (6-20 players)

2001 | A SHAKESPEARE SONNET | fl , cl , guit , vib , vn , vc 4’
comment
This is an adaptation of the beginning of my piece Le pas, les pentes. It was prepared as part of the musical surrounding of an evening of Shakespeare readings organised by Giuseppe La Licata and given in Palermo in June 2001.

2003 | SULPHUR PULSE | (BMG Ricordi) for 6 percussionists, 17’
comment
This work was commissioned by Les Percussions de Strasbourg with support from the French Ministry of culture. It is dedicated to the memory of Gérard Grisey and is related in a particular way to my memory of him: during his visit to Iceland I took him for a day’s drive. One of the places we visited was a geothermal powerplant near Reykjavik where we took a look at Iceland’s most powerful borehole blowing vapour with immense force and noise. He was very impressed by the sound it made and asked me to record it when I could. I did not accomplish this before he so unexpectedly passed away. In the summer of 2001 I finally made a good recording of this sound and it became sort of the background to this piece, influencing it on different levels.
Main performances
Strasbourg, October 6, 2003 (Musica Festival)

1996 | L’ATLETA | (BMG Ricordi) solo trumpet and 6 perc. Players 12’
percussion
player I: 5 cencerros (with mute), 5 claves on support, dobachi (c’), marimba, set of 3 bongos and 2 congas, bell tree
player II: metal tube (30 cm x 50 mm), 2 cencerros, 4 claves, 1 wood block, snare drum, 4 tom-toms, marimba, tam-tam (70 cm)
player III: metal spring, 2 cencerros, dobachi (e flat’), 5 wood blocks, 5 boo bams, vibraphone
player IV: wa-wa bar I, 2 cencerros, 4 wood blocks, 1 mokubio, 2 bongos, 2 congas, timpano, 2 crotales
player V: wa-wa bar II, 2 cencerros, dobachi, 3 mokubios, 2 temple blocks, 4 roto toms, 1 timpano, 2 crotales
player VI: wa-wa bar III, 2 cencerros, 5 temple blocks, 4 tom toms, bass drum, 2 crotales
comment
L’Atleta was commissioned by the Kroumata Percussion Ensemble in Stockholm with support from NOMUS. The commision implied the employment of a soloist, Håkan Hardenberger. I decided to write a deciseively “athletic” piece, with an almost “Faustian” development: The trumpet generates rhythms and rules which are imprinted in what surrounds it, which at the end imprison it in an impossibly difficult set of restrictions. From a purely athletic point of view, for the soloist this piece is all but impossible to play, and contains great technical difficulties also. These were superbly overcome by Hardenberger at the premiere, but it became clear to me that to diminish the effort and improve the expressive balance an arrangement of this piece for 2 trumpets and percussion would be more reasonable.
main performances
Helsinki, October 1997 (Kroumata): The Helsinki Biennale

1988 | MILLISPIL | fl (picc) , cl , cl (Bcl) bn , hrn , tbn , pno 9’
comment
Millispil was begun in Milan in the spring of 1988 and finished in Paris in the autumn of that year. It was written for the Caput Ensemble, which premiered it in January 1989. It has a form characteristic of some of my pieces from this period: A series of panels, embedded in a general evolution, a sort of “variation in evolution”.
main performances
Reykjavík, January 4 1989 (Caput Ensemble)
Stockholm, October 28, 1989 (Mynt Ensemblen)

1991 | LE PAS, LES PENTES | fl (picc.) , cl , pno , 2vn , vla , vc , cb 9’
comment
Le pas les pentes is made of a series of “panels” which all re-elaborate the same basic material. The rhythmic approach is fundamental for the definition of each episode, making them sometimes directional and sometimes static. In fact, the title (“the step, the slopes” in English) refers to a certain rhytmic technique where a regular “step” of the rhythm is met with irregularities in the underlying terrain, and automatically varies according to the terrain. This piece was composed upon request from Nuove Sincronie in Milan for the Avanti Ensemble in Helsinki. It is dedicated to the Avanti Ensemble.
For performers: A rhythmically delicate piece!
main performances
Milan, December 16, 1991 (Avanti Ensemble)
Helsinki, January 1991 (Avanti Ensemble)
Reykjavík, March 21 1992 (Caput Ensemble)
Reykjavík, September 10, 1992 (Caput Ensemble)
Reykjavík, July 11, 1993 (Caput Ensemble)
Paris, February 1995 (Ensemble L’Itinéraire)

1990 | A NECKLACE FOR MRS. NAUGHT | picc (fl in C) , fl (fl in G) , percussion , harp , celesta (harmonium) , 2vn , vla , vc, 9’
percussion
one player: marimba (A-c’’’’), vibraphone, tubular bells (c’, e flat ‘, f’),tam-tam (small)
comment
This is a brief piece completed in Paris in January 1990. Perhaps I was not convinced of its quality, and have never proposed it for performance. On second thought there are however a couple of passages of certain interest.
For performers: There has not been made any performance material for this piece, so a performance would require adequate notice.

1992 | RACE | fl , ob , cl , bn , hrn , tpt , tbn , 2vn , vla , vc, cb. 4’
comment
Race is a short piece written on commission from the Festival Musica ‘900 in Trento where it was premiered in December 1992.

1995 | LA MÉTRIQUE DU CRI | (BMG Ricordi) fl , ob , cl , bn , hrn , pno , 2vn , vla , vc , cb 11’
comment
La métrique du cri was composed in 1996 for Ensemble L’Itinéraire in Paris, with support from the Icelandic Radio Composers fund.
The piece is typical of my effort to dissolve counterpoint into timbre, musical figures into general behaviour and rhythm into a metrical character. For this dissolution to be perceived I had to insist on it in various passages, which take on an almost minimalistic character although they have nothing to do with the poetics of minimalism. The form thus became quite simple and outspoken, playing with the listeners expectation or eventually his impatience. The title (“the metrics of the shout”) exemplifies the contradiction between the rational and the irrational present in my compositional behaviour.
main performances
Paris, February 24, 1996 (Ensemble L’Itinéraire)
Reykjavík, March 1997 (Caput Ensemble)
Lisbon, 1997 (same)
Warsaw, October 1999, (same)
Stockholm, Norrköping, June, 2000 (KammarensembléN)
Stavanger, April 2001 (Ensemble of the Stavanger Conservatory)

1991 | O VERSA | solo piano , 2cl , Bcl , 2hrn , 2 perc , 2vn , vla , vc , cb 12’30’’
percusssion
perc I: marimba A - c’’’’, wood blocks, finger cymbals, 3 temple blocks, tubular bells, Glockenspiel
perc II: Vibraphone f - f’’’, Wood block, Claves, Triangle, Tam-tam (medium), 1 crotale (C sharp’ ),3 tom toms, timpano (…inch)
comment
While composing A verso for piano I envisaged the possibility to pronounce and enlargen its structure in a work for piano and instruments. The following year this led to O versa for piano and 12 instruments. The first part is basically a transcription and orchestration of the solo piece, but before it is over the work takes a new direction, more typical of a concertino, and adds a series of “perorazio” to the original development of the compositional idea. The idea itself may be described as a study on repetition, on various levels of the structure, from the articulation down to the cell structure that makes up the sequences in the piano part, or to the right out repetion of one or more notes. All this probably stems from my interest in literary metrics with the relative formulas of rhytmic repetition and alliteration. The brief cadence was added only after the first performance. It takes off at a point where the material has been distilled and only pure “vapour” remains in the form of octave figures.
main performances
Reykjavík, February 16, 1992 (Íslenska Hljómsveitin, soloist: A.G. Gudmundsdottir)
Stavanger, October 27, 1993 (NMH Samtidsensemble, soloist: J.F Heyerdahl)
Stockholm, October 6, 1994 (Uppsala Chamber Soloists, soloist: Per Lundberg)
Milan, November 8, 1998 (Ensemble Nuove Sincronie, soloist: Kumi Uchimoto)

1994 | CAPUT CANONIS | fl , ob , cl , bn , hrn , tpt , tbn , pno , 2vn , vla , vc , cb 6’
comment

Caput Canonis is a homage both to the canon as a compositional technique and to the group that premiered the piece. It might seem contradictory that neither of the two were brought to show their highest expressive qualities in this work: The canon (four voices in two couples of semicanons and two different couples of canons) is simply read in a few different ways and do not give rise to other primary material; and the role of the instruments does not contain the technical challenge usual for a modern work. The whole is rather an essay of quiet rigour imposed by the author on the two, and above all on himself, while tackling the difficult task of writing a slow movement.
For performers: There are two extant versions of this piece, and probably other orchestrations can easily be made.
main performances
Reykjavík, July 11, 1992 (Caput Ensemble)
Milan, December 1994 (same)

1994 | A FLIGHT OF FOURTEEN VOWELS | fl , ob , cl , bn , hrn , tpt ,tbn , perc , pno , 2vn , vla , vc , cb 10’
percussion
vib., mar., tub.bells, glock., medium tam-tam, 3 tom-toms
comment
A Flight of Fourteen Vowels is a sort of tapestry with fourteen images. In each one the melodic and rhythmic aspects tempt to dissolve into a certain general colour, so the memory will retain principally the general effect of the image rather than the threads it is woven with. Some of the images are closely related, share the same background or texture, some are the reverse side of the former image and some are a sort of reflection on the preceding images. The work was commissioned by the Hafnarfjördur Chamber Ensemble for its concerts in Hafnarfjördur and Bucarest in 1994.
main performances
Hafnarfjordur, London, Bucarest, March 1994 (Kammersveit Hafnarfjardar)

2000 | OBJECT OF TERROR | (BMG Ricordi) fl , ob , cl , bn , hrn , tpt , tbn , perc , pno , 2 vn , vla. vc. cb. 15’30’’
percussion
1 performer
suggested setup: two sets
set A: triangle (medium-big) prepared with a set of rings, brake drum, metal spring, tubular bells (c’, e’, g sharp’)
3 cymbals (small, medium sizzle cymbal, big) bass drum.
Set B: vibraphone (with 2 bows), 6 cencerros, deep gong (deep f sharp) (or medium-big tam tam)
comment
Object of Terror was written on commission from the Caput Ensemble and Reykjavík 2000.
The idea of musical material has gradually been dissolving in my works. At present we may say that the harmonic and rhythmic basis which generate the events lay deep under the surface, mostly unpronounced, but a distorted, elusive or compressed image of them permeats the surface. The most important thing is the evolution itself, how the foreground changes without anytime reaching a secure affirmation of themes, chords or rhytmical ideas. The form is quite foreseeable, unavoidable, and from that point of view this is among my most simple pieces. This is done so as the form will not bear any message in itself but point all the attention to the metamorphoses itself, to the colour and fragrance of time that passes, to the relation of creation and distruction which has long interested me.
main performances
Reykjavík, September 2000, (The Caput Ensemble)
Reykjavík, November 2000, (same)
Bologna, November, 2000: (same) Mappe musicali
Prague, November, 2000 : (same) Music Marathon
Amsterdam, June 2001: (same) The Holland Festival
Bologna, October 2002, (FontanaMIX) Bologna Festival
Berlin, December 2002 (The Caput Ensemble)

1995 | ENVOI, FOR MIDIPIANO AND 19 INSTRUMENTS | solo Midipiano , fl , ob , cl , Bcl , bn , hrn , 2tpt , tbn , tba , 2 perc , harp , cel , 2vn , vla , vc , cb 14’
percussion
percussion I: marimba, 3 cencerros (g sharp, a, d’), temple block (g sharp), tubular bells, 3 tom-toms (high, medium, deep), snare drum, 2 gongs (A, c), 2 chinese cymbals (medium, large)
percussion II:, vibraphone, 2 tam-tams (small, large). 2 bell plates, timpano, gong (g sharp)
comment
Envoi was written on commission from IRCAM and Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris. The Midipiano is a normal grand piano with a Midi-out device which captures the note pitches and intensities of what the pianist plays and provokes with that information various reactions of the computer. Much of the time the reactions of the computer are based on normal piano sounds which are in strict rhythmic and harmonic/contrapuntal relation to the real piano, in an attempt to create a sort of extended piano, which is mid-way between an expressive and mechanical instrument.
main performances
Paris, January (twice) and April (twice) 1995, Ensemble Intercontemporain, soloist: Dimitri Vassilakis
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G. CHAMBER ORCHESTRA

CHAMBER ORCHESTRA

1993 | BREKKUGATA | chamber orchestra: 2.2.2.1/ 0.0.0.0./ pno / 2 perc / str. 11’
percussion
percussion I: tubular bells (only e flat’’, f’’), 2 suspended cymbals (small, medium), tam-tam (medium), xylophone, 3 temple blocks, set of membranes:, snare drum (without snares), 3 tom-toms, timpano, bass drum
percussion II:, 3 cymbals (small, medium, large), tubular bells, triangle (medium), glockenspiel, vibraphon, marimba,
comment
Brekkugata sometimes resembles a concerto grosso where the woodwind form a “concertino” group which is contrapposed to the percussion and strings. The material is however not exposed in delimited sections, it rather forms one continuous line of development throughout the piece. The work was commissioned by The Akureyri Chamber Orchestra and is dedicated to Gudmundur Óli Gunnarsson its conductor. The title is simply the name of a street in the town of Akureyri (Northern Iceland).
For performers: Written for a high-level school orchestra.

1988-90 | 21 POPULAR MELODIES | chamber orchestra (+male choir)
comment
Some Icelandic composers got a commission from the Radio to do arrangements of songs from two books of popular melodies (Icelandic and of foreign origin). There were no precise restrictions on the setting to be used, so I did arrangements for various combinations, almost as exercises in orchestration. Some are for male choir, with or without solos, and chamber orchestra, some are purely instrumental and some are for full orchestra.
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H. ORCHESTRA

ORCHESTRA

2002ORCHESTRA B | for orchestra 3333.4431.timp.3perc.strings (min.14.12.10.8.6)13’
comment
This work was written with support from the Icelandic Radio Composer’s Fund for the Icelandic Composers Societie’s Dark Music Days in January 2003. The title alludes to the fact that the piece is conceived as if it were for two orchestras, of which we only hear the second of the two. For the listener, this means he should never expect to hear musical ideas presented as if they were a main theme, a principal rhythm etc. It’s all as a more or less distorted echo of something we do not hear.
Main performances
Reykjavik, February 6, 2003 (Iceland Symphony Orchestra, B.Wilkinson)

 

2011 | MANI | for orchestra 4343.4441.3perc.harp.strings (min.14.12.10.8.6) 8’
comment
Since Volkslied or world music was to be an underlying theme in my new piece I incorporated a sort of Lied-type tune in it. This tune was however not something I brought into the piece from the outside, not a preexisting tune. On the contrary I set about looking into my usual composing procedures to find out whether a Volkslied could be extracted from them. Indeed my rhythmic grid yielded a fragment of a tune in G major. This fragment is presented behind a veil in the beginning of the piece. As the piece goes on we discover that the notes of the tune are actually like five bells, each one of them ringing quite independently of the others and the piece evolves into a growing sound mass. Almost all sounds played by the orchestra are like single ringing bells of different amplitude, so there is not much melodic feel to the piece. The title, Mani, is the term for the Tibetan prayer wheel used in certain rituals. It was inspired by the fact that my piece is based on rhythmic cycles that are constantly repeated in different versions.
Main performances:
Cottbus, December 16 and 18, 2011 (Orkester des Staatstheaters Cottbus, Daniel Klajner)
Reykjavík, January 24, 2012 (Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Ilan Volkov)

2013 | FINAL THEME from the film In each mans dream his downfall looms | (registered under its Icelandic title: LOKALAGIÐ úr kvikmyndinni Í draumi sérhvers manns er fall hans falið | for solo piano and orchestra 3333.4331.4perc.harp.strings (8.8.8.8.6) 15’
comment
This piece was composed upon request from Víkingur Heiðar Ólafsson. It deals with the relation between piano and orchestra on different levels, both dramaturgically and musically. One of my main tasks was to combine the chromatic nature of the keyboard with a microtonal surrounding in the orchestra. This was done by choosing a popular Icelandic melody and reading its pitches as components in distorted sound spectra but also by establishing a very strict system of action and reaction between the two. We might also say that four aspects of sound are distinct but interrelated in the piece: Triadic harmony, diatonic materials, chromatic materials and finally spectral or microtonal materials.
main performances
Reykjavík, April 19 2013, as part of the Tectonics festival

 

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I. VOCAL

VOCAL

solo voice

1993 | DRÓTTKVÆD VÍSA | mezzo-soprano and piano 3’
comment
This is a very short vocal piece on a midieval Drottkvædi stanza from the Icelandic Saga of Gisli Sursson. A short passage from the saga should be recited before the song.

2007 | PICTURES OF THREE FOLKSONGS mezzo/folk voice, flute, violin, cello 5'
comment

I added a third arrangement to the two I did in 1996 to form a small cycle. The instrumentation was decided by circumstances at the time, but I just maintained it. I guess Luciano Berio's example is very present whenever one sets to work on folksong arrangements, but his most important lesson is perhaps that one should act as if the songs were of one's own composition. I am not looking for anything like an authentic sound for these tunes, I just try to react on how they speak to me. I particularly enjoyed doing the second song which turned out to have nothing typically Icelandic about it.

1995 | OA | soprano , fl in G , vn , perc. 8’
percussion
One performer: large tambourine, marimba, claves, 5 cencerros, log drum
comment
Oa was commissioned by Musica su più dimensioni in Palermo. The text is derived from one of the laude by Jacopone da Todi which begins “O amore…”

2002 | DÌ, COCORITA | for soprano, violin, cello and percussion 8'
comment
This is a commission from the Venice Biennale. The words set to music are by myself.An unexpected sense of fraternity with the bird some friends gave my daughter prompted me to write the three lines which are set to music here: "Dì, cocorita, se più ti piace / restare a gabbia chiusa sul balcone / o svolazzare libera in bagno” (Tell me, cocorita, whether you prefer / staying on the balcony with the cage closed / or flying freely in the bathroom). It suddenly appeared to me that our destinies might have something in common. The decision to use these verses in a brief composition is not to be understood as the fruit of a literary ambition. I wanted to use my own words simply as a painter who includes written phrases in the composition of the canvas, without any help from the literary “weight” of the text (certainly all but absent in this case). The music reflects some aspects of my recent production - for instance a qualitative type of rhythmical organisation -however all of them appearing in a slightly surreal atmosphere.
main performances
Venice, September 29, 2002 (Claudia Grimaz, The Ex Novo Ensemble)

vocal ensemble

1991 | ET TOI, PALE SOLEIL | sopr , mezzo-sopr ,countertenor , baritone , fl , sax, tpt , hrn , tbn ,vn , cb 14’
comment
…et toi, pâle Soleil was written for the final concert of the 1991 Jolivet competiion in Montreuil, with the instrumentation given by the organisation. The piece passes through four instances of old age, namely: decay, senility, metamorphosis and wisdom. Each of these gives rise to particular creative processes exposed in the four main episodes of the piece, each episode accompanied by the appropriate literary quotation, a different language and soloist prevailing in each episode. The four episodes are folowed by a short instrumental “envoi”.
main performances
Montreuil, February 1990
Amsterdam, September 8 1992

choir

2001 | VÍSINDIN EFLA ALLA DÁD | 4’
comment
Tonal piece - sort of mixolydian - on a poem by Jónas Hallgrímsson (in Icelandic).

2001 | KVENNA HEITI | mixed choir 5’
comment
A sort of ‘burlesque’ on a text by Snorri Sturluson: a list of several different names for ‘woman’ in Icelandic. The piece employs speakers, screamers and rappers beside the normal voices.

2007 | DÆM MIG GUD | Mixed choir 1'A four voice arrangement and reinterpretation of a traditional Icelandic psalm. In a minor.

2007 | BAKKYNJUR (BACCHAE) | For female choir, clarinet and percussion 20' approx.

comment
This is a suite from the stage music containing all the songs and some of the "voicescapes" from the staging at the National Theatre in December 2006-February 2007. Probably some of the songs can be performed separately. The pitch structure goes from noise to tonal/modal. 
main performances
To be premiered in Reykjavik 2008

| ELSKU BORGA MÍN | 2009 for mixed choir, minimum of 24 voices 26'
comment
Elsku Borga mín draws its title and text from the letters a mother in the countryside in the West of Iceland wrote to her daughter when the latter was staying in a boarding school in the years 1948 and '49.  I made no attempt to set the contents of the letters to music in the usual sense.  The letters should rather be seen as fragments scattered on the surface of a big canvas.  Despite this I cannot deny the fascination for the language and tone of the letters, which were basically too sacred for me to touch them or "interpret".  The bigger part of the letters are about quite ordinary and everyday matters.  This operation implies dwelving into the ritual of everyday life in the countryside.  The most part of the music consists in voicescapes and spoken text, but there are also some more traditional sections.  The choir also makes use of six iPod machines for a separate sextet to intonate a series of microtonal chords in the last section of the piece.  This piece was commissioned by the Skálholt music festival.
main performances
Skálholt, July 2010

| 2011 | Í VATNSINS FAÐM | for mixed choir 3'
comment
The setting of a text by Ólafur Jóhann Sigurðsson.  Written in the memory of my mother.

| 2012 | GRÓÐURLJÓÐ | for male choir and organ 3'
comment
This is an arrangement of a song from Play Alter Native, but with words by myself, a list of common plants in Icelandic gardens.  Written for my father's funeral.

 

 

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J. SOLO WITH ENSEMBLE

piano:

| O VERSA | 1991 solo piano , 2cl , Bcl , 2hrn , 2 perc , 2vn , vla , vc , cb 12’30’’
percusssion
perc I: marimba A - c’’’’, wood blocks, finger cymbals, 3 temple blocks, tubular bells, Glockenspiel
perc II: Vibraphone f - f’’’, Wood block, Claves, Triangle, Tam-tam (medium), 1 crotale (C sharp’ ),3 tom toms, timpano (…inch)
comment
While composing A verso for piano I envisaged the possibility to pronounce and enlargen its structure in a work for piano and instruments. The following year this led to O versa for piano and 12 instruments. The first part is basically a transcription and orchestration of the solo piece, but before it is over the work takes a new direction, more typical of a concertino, and adds a series of “perorazio” to the original development of the compositional idea. The idea itself may be described as a study on repetition, on various levels of the structure, from the articulation down to the cell structure that makes up the sequences in the piano part, or to the right out repetion of one or more notes. All this probably stems from my interest in literary metrics with the relative formulas of rhytmic repetition and alliteration. The brief cadence was added only after the first performance. It takes off at a point where the material has been distilled and only pure “vapour” remains in the form of octave figures.
main performances
Reykjavík, February 16, 1992 (Íslenska Hljómsveitin, soloist: A.G. Gudmundsdottir)
Stavanger, October 27, 1993 (NMH Samtidsensemble, soloist: J.F Heyerdahl)
Stockholm, October 6, 1994 (Uppsala Chamber Soloists, soloist: Per Lundberg)
Milan, November 8, 1998 (Ensemble Nuove Sincronie, soloist: Kumi Uchimoto)

| ENVOI, FOR MIDIPIANO AND 19 INSTRUMENTS | 1995 solo Midipiano , fl , ob , cl , Bcl , bn , hrn , 2tpt , tbn , tba , 2 perc , harp , cel , 2vn , vla , vc , cb 14’
percussion
percussion I: marimba, 3 cencerros (g sharp, a, d’), temple block (g sharp), tubular bells, 3 tom-toms (high, medium, deep), snare drum, 2 gongs (A, c), 2 chinese cymbals (medium, large)
percussion II:, vibraphone, 2 tam-tams (small, large). 2 bell plates, timpano, gong (g sharp)
comment
Envoi was written on commission from IRCAM and Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris. The Midipiano is a normal grand piano with a Midi-out device which captures the note pitches and intensities of what the pianist plays and provokes with that information various reactions of the computer. Much of the time the reactions of the computer are based on normal piano sounds which are in strict rhythmic and harmonic/contrapuntal relation to the real piano, in an attempt to create a sort of extended piano, which is mid-way between an expressive and mechanical instrument.
main performances
Paris, January (twice) and April (twice) 1995, Ensemble Intercontemporain, soloist: Dimitri Vassilakis

clarinet:

| DUE BAGATTELLE II | 1997 solo cl + 3 or more background instruments 7’
comment
Due Bagattelle for clarinet were composed in 1987. Each of them is based on a spectre of pitches which remains immobile through the whole movement, but moves around these pitches in a certain way. They have been performed in various places in the original version, but in 1997 I thought of adding slight external resonances to the solo part to mark the underlying pitch structure, also introducing some repetitions in the solo part.
For performers: There are various ways of realising the background parts, which are divided in three voices: vla. Vc. Pno. or vn. Vc. Vib (or guitar or harp or cymbalom) etc. A couple of instruments with sustained notes (strings) and at least one with plucked or stricken notes, and also with more than one instrument per voice.
main performances
Amsterdam, May 30, 1998 (Gino Sgroi/Zephyr Ensemble)
Montepulciano, July 1998 (Gaspare Tirincanti/Ensemble MusicAttuale)
Palermo, December 14 1998 (Gino Sgroi/Zephyr Ensemble): The Musica su più dimensioni Festival
Reggio Emilia: The Di Nuovo Musica Festival
Rome, June 17, 2000 (Gino Sgroi/Zephyr Ensemble)

| IS ANYBODY THERE? | 2004
Solo clarinet (bassett-clar. in A) and 15 strings (5 first violins, 4 second violins, 3 violas, 2 cellos, 1 bass) 12’
comment
Is Anybody There was commissioned by NOMUS for Staffan Mårtensson and premiered by him with the Musica Vitae ensemble from Växjö, Sweden. In this piece I tried to let the soloist tread a very narrow path between being individual and impersonal. He is indeed in a main role, but sometimes has a very mechanical part to interpret. Although the role is quite difficult, it is not “heroic”. I guess the main concept of this piece has to do with individuality and absence and as part of this the five first violins play most of the time with metal mutes, being alienated from their usual leading role.
Main performances
Växjö, Gothemburg, Helsingborg, November 2004,

Épinal, September 2009

percussion
one player: marimba (A-c), vibraphone, tubular bells (c, e flat, f),tam-tam (small)

violin:

| MESSAGGIO DAL VETRAIO | 2018 solo vn, fl, cl, perc, vla, vc, cb 10'
comment
Messaggio dal vetraio is scored for solo violin, two woodwinds, percussion and string trio. It is based on a pre-existing violin solo, Etching. This piece presents a very firm metric structure, it is almost constantly in 11/8 metre. The rhythm constantly plays around the same formula, which also generates the pitch material. The role of the flute and clarinet is mostly to create an echo of the solo part, the string trio plays out the harmonic consequences of the solo part and the percussion unifies all parts by underlining the metric structure.
main performances
Skálholt, July 7 and 8 2018 (Marco Fusi, Caput Ensemble)

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K. PERCUSSION

 DI VOLTA | 1989 vib , mar , pno 6’45’’
comment
Di volta came about as a study on certain compositional methods, in particular on the relation between rhythm and harmony, coincidence and determinism, and gradually became a concert piece with a certain dramatic development. It has been performed only once, at the UNM Festival in Helsinki 1990. At that occasion my programme notes enjoyed at least as much success as the piece: “Di volta was composed in the autumn of 1989. Its idea is a simple chain of notes which gives rise to a chain of chords which generate a chain of events which, if time were slightly more curved, could be made into a necklace for Mrs. Naught,hoping, I do hope she will forgive me for betraying her.
The title has many implications and is quite untranslatable. Read backwards however it says “atlovid”, which is utter nonsense”.

| OPNA | 1991 Bass clarinet and marimba 7’
comment
The two pages of an open book are called opna in Icelandic, but opna also means “to open”. The work was composed beginning with the central part, which constitutes a sort of symmetrical point. After the central part I proceeded to realising the sections towards the beginning and towards the end using the structural potential of the centre.
Despite the almost structuralist appearance of this approach the outer sections hide their relation to the centre, which for the listener seems to be only another part of the form.
Opna was written on request of Nuove Sincronie in Milan for Harry Sparnaay and Johan Faber.
For performers: A willingly virtuosistic piece for both performers.
main performances
Varese, July 28, 1991 (Harry Sparnaay, cl, Johan Faber, mar)
Paris, January 11, 1992 (Didier Pernoit, cl, Pascal Zavaro, mar)
Tel-Aviv, 1993
Båstad, June 27, 2003, Gudni Franzson, Markus Leoson

 DONEC VESPER | 1997 3 percussionists
percussion
Player I: Large tambourine on table (ca. 35 cm), Suspended cabaza (or medium maraca), Medium tam-tam (ca. 60 cm) prepared with a bathtub chain or similar hanging from the support and rattling against the shield, Wood block, Tenor drum, Cowbell (e’’), Vibraphone (+bow)
Player II: snare drum, suspended large maraca (or goat-hoofs), hi-hat with tambourine frame (small) on top
temple block (b flat’), gong (b flat), marimba (from c to c’’’’), wrist rattlers on both wrists throughout the piece: choose very small and delicate bells.
Player III: medium tom-tom with tambourine on top, suspended small maraca, sizzle cymbal, brake drum, small log drum, vibraphone (+bow)
comment
While I was preparing my piece for Sisu, my friend Sigfus Dadason (1928-1996) passed away. Since I was planning a short piece which represented a passage from white noise through rhythm to harmony (from object through speech to meaning) I found it particularly appropriate as a homage to the memory of this singular poet. I beleive the circumstances did influence my writing - the piece took on some attributes of ritual music - although it need not be taken as an epitaph.
The title, 'Donec Vesper', comes from the sixth of Virgils eclogues. It literally means 'till Vesper' (the evening star), remembering how the heardsman keeps on singing till the evening star comes and stops him.
The score furthermore bears a quotation from one of Dadasons poems, which roughly translated goes: "Actually, there is no mention of this on the wall"
As concerns the general style of the piece, it is in line with my recent work on the interrelation between rhythm and harmony, although here, due to the duration and character of this piece, they are expressed in more straightforward terms than in most of my other pieces.
main performances
Harstad, Norway, October 1997 (SISU Percussion Trio)
Reykjavík, May 2001 (Oosterhout, Gretarsson, Palsson)

 L’ATLETA | 1996 (BMG Ricordi) solo trumpet and 6 perc. Players 12’
percussion
player I: 5 cencerros (with mute), 5 claves on support, dobachi (c’), marimba, set of 3 bongos and 2 congas, bell tree
player II: metal tube (30 cm x 50 mm), 2 cencerros, 4 claves, 1 wood block, snare drum, 4 tom-toms, marimba, tam-tam (70 cm)
player III: metal spring, 2 cencerros, dobachi (e flat’), 5 wood blocks, 5 boo bams, vibraphone
player IV: wa-wa bar I, 2 cencerros, 4 wood blocks, 1 mokubio, 2 bongos, 2 congas, timpano, 2 crotales
player V: wa-wa bar II, 2 cencerros, dobachi, 3 mokubios, 2 temple blocks, 4 roto toms, 1 timpano, 2 crotales
player VI: wa-wa bar III, 2 cencerros, 5 temple blocks, 4 tom toms, bass drum, 2 crotales
comment
L’Atleta was commissioned by the Kroumata Percussion Ensemble in Stockholm with support from NOMUS. The commision implied the employment of a soloist, Håkan Hardenberger. I decided to write a deciseively “athletic” piece, with an almost “Faustian” development: The trumpet generates rhythms and rules which are imprinted in what surrounds it, which at the end imprison it in an impossibly difficult set of restrictions. From a purely athletic point of view, for the soloist this piece is all but impossible to play, and contains great technical difficulties also. These were superbly overcome by Hardenberger at the premiere, but it became clear to me that to diminish the effort and improve the expressive balance an arrangement of this piece for 2 trumpets and percussion would be more reasonable.
main performances
Helsinki, October 1997 (Kroumata): The Helsinki Biennale

 SULPHUR PULSE | 2003 (BMG Ricordi) for 6 percussionists, 17’
comment
This work was commissioned by Les Percussions de Strasbourg with support from the French Ministry of culture. It is dedicated to the memory of Gérard Grisey and is related in a particular way to my memory of him: during his visit to Iceland I took him for a day’s drive. One of the places we visited was a geothermal powerplant near Reykjavik where we took a look at Iceland’s most powerful borehole blowing vapour with immense force and noise. He was very impressed by the sound it made and asked me to record it when I could. I did not accomplish this before he so unexpectedly passed away. In the summer of 2001 I finally made a good recording of this sound and it became sort of the background to this piece, influencing it on different levels.
main performances
Strasbourg, October 6, 2003 (Musica Festival)