CHAMBER ENSEMBLE (6-20 players)

2001 | A SHAKESPEARE SONNET | fl , cl , guit , vib , vn , vc 4’
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’
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’
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
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’
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’
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’
one player: marimba (A-c’’’’), vibraphone, tubular bells (c’, e flat ‘, f’),tam-tam (small)
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’
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’
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’’
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)
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’

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’
vib., mar., tub.bells, glock., medium tam-tam, 3 tom-toms
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’’
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)
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 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)
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