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Classical - Released March 27, 2020 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Distinctions Diapason d'or - 5 étoiles de Classica
This program brings together two great French composers, separated by almost two centuries, that we would not think of bringing together spontaneously. But the freedom of mind of the Icelandic pianist looks at it otherwise, who, for his third album with Deutsche Grammophon, wanted to highlight their affinities as their contrasts in the light of their innovative contribution to the musical thought of their time. "I scratch my head wondering why Rameau's music is not played more. Between quality, inventiveness and unpredictability, there is never any element of formula in these pieces”, says Víkingur Ólafsson. By instinctively associating these style characteristics with those specific to Debussy, he decided to make an album of them: "I want to show Rameau as a futurist and underline the deep roots of Debussy in French baroque — and in Rameau's music in particular. The idea is that the listener almost forgets who is who by listening to the album." Debussy, who never stopped defending the French tradition by opposing it to German music, liked the decorative and complex lines of this Baroque composer with a French spirit like his own.An initial idea in the development of this skillfully constructed program, the transcription for piano of Debussy from Prélude to his Cantata La Damoiselle introduces it. Like the album's visual, Víkingur Ólafsson aims to be suggestive even in the accent he gives in Rameau to polyphonic voices supported by a flawless rhythmic impulse, which contrasts with Debussy, whose among other things the beautiful tumultuous Jardins sous la pluie which is played with a large breath in the image of wind load until the light returns. © Qobuz / GG
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Solo Piano - Released September 7, 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
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Classical - Released January 27, 2017 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
The piano etudes of Philip Glass were, like 19th century examples of the form, technical studies. Glass, in fact, wrote them over two decades as a way of improving his own piano skills. Yet they are also, like Chopin's etudes, little compositional studies that establish a set of parameters and explore it in a basic way. They offer the excellent means to come to grips with Glass' musical language, and they reveal the personalities of their performers more than most of his other compositions. Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson emerged to acclaim as part of a joint recital of all 20 etudes at the Barbican in London, and his work here fulfills the promise shown. After an overture from Glassworks (1981), Ólafsson launches into a sequence of 11 etudes. He doesn't follow the original order, but this is all to the good: the Glass etudes are self-contained pieces, and his progression is convincing. Ólafsson's touch is light, sweeping, dreamy, and evocative of the mystical side of the composer's personality. He catches the logic of each etude as it unfolds the implications of the very simple material with which it begins. And he makes an unusual decision: one etude, and the opening Glassworks excerpt in a return appearance as a postlude, are "reworked" by Christian Badzura with the addition of a part for string quartet. Ólafsson's own notes don't offer any justification for this, and the forces in Glass' music are less optional than in that of his contemporaries. But it's strangely compelling, and after the especially lush "Etude No. 20" -- as good a place as any to start sampling -- the addition of the string quartet to the Glassworks music seems to take the mood to a higher plane. This is a very fine Glass recording, beautifully engineered in an Icelandic hall. © James Manheim /TiVo
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Classical - Released September 3, 2021 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Between tradition and modernity - Víkingur Ólafsson's repertoire is extremely extensive and spans several centuries. In his previous recordings, contemporary composers such as Philip Glass play just as important a role as the early music by Bach, or the impressionistic sounds of Debussy. He himself describes such a diverse repertoire in a simple way: "I see all music as contemporary music, I don’t make a distinction". Now, on his new and thus fourth Deutsche Grammophon album, the Icelandic pianist covers another century with Mozart and his contemporaries. At first glance, the program seems a bit thrown together: In addition to various piano works by Mozart, you’ll find selected works by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and Joseph Haydn, as well as their Italian colleagues Baldassare Galuppi and Domenico Cimarosa who pop up in between. However it quickly becomes clear that Ólafsson is once again immersing himself in a new musical era and wants to draw as much as possible from it before presenting it to the listeners. And this is done amazingly well! The pianist manages to reflect the German-Italian influence of the early and high classical period, in the midst of the 18th century, in a uniquely versatile way. In addition to extreme precision, there is also an impressive lightness to his playing at the same time. Another special feature of this album are Ólafsson's self-penned arrangements of Mozart's Adagio in E-flat major, the third movement from the original String Quartet No. 3 in G minor, K. 516, as well as to Cimarosa's Sonatas No. 42 and No. 55. Here one can discover the performing musician in the role of co-creator at the same time - Ólafsson deals with the music with hair-pin precision and provides it with his personal sensual Icelandic, and, indeed, contemporary touch. © Lena Germann/Qobuz
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Classical - Released March 12, 2021 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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This album is something of an offshoot of pianist Vikingur Ólafsson's album Debussy/Rameau, which offered a deep and well-received dive into the relationship between those two composers. Here, Ólafsson offers manipulated performances of mostly Debussy, with a couple of works by Rameau and one Debussy improvisation by Ólafsson himself. Most of these manipulations are by electronic musicians, taking Ólafsson's own performances as a point of departure, but there are also low-fidelity recordings Ólafsson made at home during the coronavirus pandemic. These contain pedal and breathing noises that are substantial enough that the effect is beyond simply that of homemade recording. Ólafsson seems to be trying to create a kind of acoustic counterpart to electronic distortion and to weave it into the general mood he creates. Fans of Ólafsson's generally experimental approach will be interested in his latest explorations, which contain innovations in the interaction between classical performance and contemporary electronics, and the commercial success of this release suggests a continuing appetite for those explorations. Others, though, might start somewhere else with Ólafsson, who is undeniably a fresh voice. The home recordings for many will simply come off as sloppy and self-indulgent, and the electronics, while interesting, don't seem to make a coherent statement. This recording may be regarded as a footnote in the career of an artist who has genuinely new ideas that don't need the veneer of self-conscious experimentalism. © James Manheim /TiVo
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Classical - Released March 27, 2020 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

This program brings together two great French composers, separated by almost two centuries, that we would not think of bringing together spontaneously. But the freedom of mind of the Icelandic pianist looks at it otherwise, who, for his third album with Deutsche Grammophon, wanted to highlight their affinities as their contrasts in the light of their innovative contribution to the musical thought of their time. "I scratch my head wondering why Rameau's music is not played more. Between quality, inventiveness and unpredictability, there is never any element of formula in these pieces”, says Víkingur Ólafsson. By instinctively associating these style characteristics with those specific to Debussy, he decided to make an album of them: "I want to show Rameau as a futurist and underline the deep roots of Debussy in French baroque — and in Rameau's music in particular. The idea is that the listener almost forgets who is who by listening to the album." Debussy, who never stopped defending the French tradition by opposing it to German music, liked the decorative and complex lines of this Baroque composer with a French spirit like his own.An initial idea in the development of this skillfully constructed program, the transcription for piano of Debussy from Prélude to his Cantata La Damoiselle introduces it. Like the album's visual, Víkingur Ólafsson aims to be suggestive even in the accent he gives in Rameau to polyphonic voices supported by a flawless rhythmic impulse, which contrasts with Debussy, whose among other things the beautiful tumultuous Jardins sous la pluie which is played with a large breath in the image of wind load until the light returns. © Qobuz / GG
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Classical - Released May 4, 2011 | Dirrindi

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Classical - Released April 26, 2019 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Classical - Released October 5, 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Classical - Released September 7, 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Classical - Released November 20, 2020 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Classical - Released January 15, 2021 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Classical - Released May 17, 2009 | Hands On Music

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Classical - Released February 19, 2021 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Classical - Released January 27, 2017 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Booklet
The piano etudes of Philip Glass were, like 19th century examples of the form, technical studies. Glass, in fact, wrote them over two decades as a way of improving his own piano skills. Yet they are also, like Chopin's etudes, little compositional studies that establish a set of parameters and explore it in a basic way. They offer the excellent means to come to grips with Glass' musical language, and they reveal the personalities of their performers more than most of his other compositions. Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson emerged to acclaim as part of a joint recital of all 20 etudes at the Barbican in London, and his work here fulfills the promise shown. After an overture from Glassworks (1981), Ólafsson launches into a sequence of 11 etudes. He doesn't follow the original order, but this is all to the good: the Glass etudes are self-contained pieces, and his progression is convincing. Ólafsson's touch is light, sweeping, dreamy, and evocative of the mystical side of the composer's personality. He catches the logic of each etude as it unfolds the implications of the very simple material with which it begins. And he makes an unusual decision: one etude, and the opening Glassworks excerpt in a return appearance as a postlude, are "reworked" by Christian Badzura with the addition of a part for string quartet. Ólafsson's own notes don't offer any justification for this, and the forces in Glass' music are less optional than in that of his contemporaries. But it's strangely compelling, and after the especially lush "Etude No. 20" -- as good a place as any to start sampling -- the addition of the string quartet to the Glassworks music seems to take the mood to a higher plane. This is a very fine Glass recording, beautifully engineered in an Icelandic hall. © James Manheim /TiVo
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Classical - Released September 3, 2021 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Between tradition and modernity - Víkingur Ólafsson's repertoire is extremely extensive and spans several centuries. In his previous recordings, contemporary composers such as Philip Glass play just as important a role as the early music by Bach, or the impressionistic sounds of Debussy. He himself describes such a diverse repertoire in a simple way: "I see all music as contemporary music, I don’t make a distinction". Now, on his new and thus fourth Deutsche Grammophon album, the Icelandic pianist covers another century with Mozart and his contemporaries. At first glance, the program seems a bit thrown together: In addition to various piano works by Mozart, you’ll find selected works by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and Joseph Haydn, as well as their Italian colleagues Baldassare Galuppi and Domenico Cimarosa who pop up in between. However it quickly becomes clear that Ólafsson is once again immersing himself in a new musical era and wants to draw as much as possible from it before presenting it to the listeners. And this is done amazingly well! The pianist manages to reflect the German-Italian influence of the early and high classical period, in the midst of the 18th century, in a uniquely versatile way. In addition to extreme precision, there is also an impressive lightness to his playing at the same time. Another special feature of this album are Ólafsson's self-penned arrangements of Mozart's Adagio in E-flat major, the third movement from the original String Quartet No. 3 in G minor, K. 516, as well as to Cimarosa's Sonatas No. 42 and No. 55. Here one can discover the performing musician in the role of co-creator at the same time - Ólafsson deals with the music with hair-pin precision and provides it with his personal sensual Icelandic, and, indeed, contemporary touch. © Lena Germann/Qobuz
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Classical - Released March 12, 2021 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Classical - Released March 12, 2021 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

This album is something of an offshoot of pianist Vikingur Ólafsson's album Debussy/Rameau, which offered a deep and well-received dive into the relationship between those two composers. Here, Ólafsson offers manipulated performances of mostly Debussy, with a couple of works by Rameau and one Debussy improvisation by Ólafsson himself. Most of these manipulations are by electronic musicians, taking Ólafsson's own performances as a point of departure, but there are also low-fidelity recordings Ólafsson made at home during the coronavirus pandemic. These contain pedal and breathing noises that are substantial enough that the effect is beyond simply that of homemade recording. Ólafsson seems to be trying to create a kind of acoustic counterpart to electronic distortion and to weave it into the general mood he creates. Fans of Ólafsson's generally experimental approach will be interested in his latest explorations, which contain innovations in the interaction between classical performance and contemporary electronics, and the commercial success of this release suggests a continuing appetite for those explorations. Others, though, might start somewhere else with Ólafsson, who is undeniably a fresh voice. The home recordings for many will simply come off as sloppy and self-indulgent, and the electronics, while interesting, don't seem to make a coherent statement. This recording may be regarded as a footnote in the career of an artist who has genuinely new ideas that don't need the veneer of self-conscious experimentalism. © James Manheim /TiVo
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Classical - Released September 25, 2020 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Víkingur Ólafsson in the magazine
  • Víkingur Ólafsson | One Cover One Word
    Víkingur Ólafsson | One Cover One Word An interview with the Icelandic pianist whose new album for Deutsche Grammophon puts Debussy and Rameau into conversation with each other. It's a chance to better understand the artist's approach t...