Anna Thorvaldsdóttir’s music is frequently performed in Europe and in the United States.

Archora/Aion and Atmospheriques are two recordings being released by Sono Luminus. They are additions to several previously released Sono Luminus remastered recordings of Icelandic orchestral works.

Archora was jointly commissioned by the BBC Proms, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Munich Philharmonic, the Orchestre de Paris, and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. Aion was written for the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and co-commissioned by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. The world premiere recording of the composer’s Catamorphosis is included in the cd Atmospheriques, along with works by Anna Thorvaldsdóttir, María Huld Maran Sigfúsdóttir, Missy Mazzoli, Daníel Bjarnason, and Bára Gísladóttir.



Iceland Symphony Orchestra conducted by Eva Ollikainen

Producer: Ragnheiður Jónsdóttir

Engineers: Daniel Shores, Morten Lindberg. Ragnheiður Jónsdó


Music by Anna Thorvaldsdóttir, María Huld Maran Sigfúsdóttir, Missy Mazzoli, Daníel Bjarnason, and Bára Gísladóttir.

Iceland Symphony Orchestra conducted by Daníel Bjarnason.

Producer: Ragnheiður Jónsdóttir.

Engineers: Daniel Shores, Ragnheiður Jónsdóttir, Joshua Frey


In Anna Thorvaldsdóttir words: “As always, the qualities of the music are first and foremost musical and whichever inspiration finds its way into a piece is there because I perceive it as musically interesting…  It is important to me that everyone can experience the music individually and find their own worlds in it… the inspiration behind a piece is not something I am trying to describe through the music as such… The music then stands on its own, on its own terms…”

Thorvaldsdóttir’s use of the ancient Greek word Aion – a deity associated with time – is taken to mean a time… an age, while, in much simpler terms, Atmospheriques is about atmospheric variations. The title of Archora, a term of ancient Greek etymology- conflates both the word for the primal place arché and the word for the parallel realm chora.

In Thorvaldsdóttir’s music, the traditional uses of tonality, harmony, counterpoint, and melody are momentarily or even completely set aside. Instead, the seemingly chaotic but minutely planned orchestration becomes of central importance to the work.

Thorvaldsdóttir utilizes long sustained bass notes with which she anchors tone clusters and frequent percussive uses of martellato patterns in both the strings and the percussion instruments. Extended timpani soli that oppose melodic outbursts from the woodwinds as they briefly struggle to blossom are brutally shredded as they collide with moaning interruptions from the percussion and brass sections.

The crumbling sonic landscapes of Archora and Aion and Atmospheriques use massive layering of instrumental gestures, now blunt, now gentle, that seem to echo the sounds of our struggling crumbling world.

The Iceland Symphony Orchestra, led by Eva Ollikainen in Archora/Aion and Daníel Bjarnason in Atmospheriques heroically delivers performances of a group of totally exposed works in which each section of the orchestra is asked to play immensely complex music. The engineering of both albums is impeccable, the liner notes clear and concise. The results are nothing short of impressive.

Rafael de Acha ©2023

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