Jóhann Jóhannsson – Orphée (2016) Deutsche Grammophon

“Orphée is for me about changes: about moving to a new city, leaving behind an old life in Copenhagen and building a new one in Berlin – about the death of old relationships and the birth of new ones,” explains Jóhann.

Orphée traces a path from darkness into light, inspired by the various re-tellings of the ancient tale of the poet Orpheus, from Ovid’s to Jean Cocteau’s. A many-layered story about death, rebirth, change and the ephemeral nature of memory, the myth can also be read as a metaphor for artistic creation, dealing with the elusive nature of beauty and its relationship to the artist, as well as the idea that art is created through transgression – by the poet defying the gods who have forbidden him to turn back towards his beloved as he leaves the Underworld.

Orphée shows the full range of the Icelandic composer’s remarkable invention and uncanny feeling for atmosphere. The music of the entire album is tied together structurally by recurring harmonic and melodic elements, yet each track sounds fresh, evocative and unique. Orphée reconciles ambitious orchestral and vocal writing with influences ranging from the Baroque to minimalism and electronic music. Also influenced by film composers Bernard Herrmann, Ennio Morricone and Michael Nyman (all prolific writers, like Jóhann himself, of concert music as well as film scores), Jóhannsson is a contemporary exponent of a tradition that was shaped by composers such as Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Walton or Korngold.

01. Flight From The City
02. A Song For Europa
03. The Drowned World
04. A Deal With Chaos
05. A Pile Of Dust
06. A Sparrow Alighted Upon Our Shoulder
07. Fragment I
08. By The Roes, And By The Hinds Of The Field
09. The Radiant City
10. Fragment II
11. The Burning Mountain
12. De Luce Et Umbra
13. Good Morning, Midnight
14. Good Night, Day
15. Orphic Hymn

Bass Vocals, Baritone Vocals – Jakob Bloch Jespersen, Jakob Soelberg
Cello – Clarice Jensen, Hildur Guðnadóttir
Choir – Theatre Of Voices
Conductor [Choir]– Paul Hillier
Conductor [Orchestra]– Anthony Weeden
Ensemble – American Contemporary Music Ensemble
Mezzo-soprano Vocals – Elenor Wiman, Ellen Marie Brink Christensen*, Kristin Mulders, Signe Asmussen
Orchestra – AIR Lyndhurst String Orchestra
Piano, Electronics, Organ [Pipe Organ], Organ [Electric Organs] – Jóhann Jóhannsson
Soprano Vocals – Else Torp
Tenor Vocals – Chris Watson (7), Paul Bentley-Angell
Viola – Ben Russell
Violin – Caleb Burhans, Yuki Numata Resnick




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