THORKELL SIGURBJÖRNSSON (b.1938): The Well Tempered Pianist, Concert Tours, SO, Hans Variations, Chaconnette, MA KKNOTT, Scintillation - Sindur, Chesa.
Catalogue Number: 03M085
Label: Icelandic Music
Description: This disc, gathering together Sigurbjörnsson's complete output for piano (aside from some children's and occasional pieces), suggests a highly skilled and craftsmanlike miniaturist with an eclectic range and a sense of humor. All the pieces are thoroughly accessible, even when based on 12-tone methods or borrowing briefly from extended techniques of the avant garde. The four little pieces that make up The Well Tempered Pianist are little toccatas, with a surprisingly serious and weighty funeral march for a slow movement. The Concert Tours pieces combine folksong with dodecaphony, and the set is framed with a palindromic pair of movements. SO is a study in contrasts, with much tonal material and a suggestion of Bartók. The 14 Hans Variations together only account for 11 minutes; basing each variation on a fraction of the theme (a folksong about a knight chopped into pieces in battle), the work goes through the expected range of character pieces thoroughly and with humor. The austere miniature dodecaphonic chaconne contrasts with the almost minimalist repeated gestures of the tonal MA KKNOTT, while Scintillation is a study in piano sonority and melody, with lively quasi-minimalist gestures. Chesa is a little encore obsessively based on a 4-note motif, incorporating drumming effects on the piano case. Kristín Jónína Taylor.