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Classical - Released April 23, 2021 | Sono Luminus

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Zachary Carrettín writes: “I chose “Metamorphosis” as the title of this album for several reasons. Having lived with these works for a quarter century, they have changed me, and I have changed along the way. During this project my dear friend of thirty-three years, and former mentor, passed away. Ken and I spent most of my first master’s degree studying Bach manuscripts and first editions, and I think his influence is with me all the time. He always felt that the treatises and other primary sources were there to provide possibilities rather than to limit our scope. Our conversations went deep and wide, and included a couple of extended journeys in Europe and the United States, studying manuscripts together. I recorded these pieces during the Covid-19 pandemic, just weeks after my uncle in Italy passed away, and my aunt in Florida passed away, and while my dear friend in Colorado was preparing himself to pass onward from this life as well. Due to Coronavirus concerns, my partner in life and music–Mina, our chihuahua Apple, and I drove thirty hours each way from Colorado to Virginia and back, not stopping at restaurants nor hotels, to make this recording at the chapel of Sono Luminus Studios…”. © Sono Luminus
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Classical - Released April 23, 2021 | Sono Luminus

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"Moonbow" is Gunnar Andreas Kristinsson’s second album, the first to be released on a major label. The music, performed by leading members of the Icelandic contemporary music scene, was recorded in Kaldalo'n and Norðurljo's, the two recital halls of Harpa Reykjavik Concert Hall. While Gunnar’s first album, "Patterns", contains pieces from his study and freelance years in The Hague, "Moonbow" is a selection of more mature works from a fruitful period in the composer’s life after moving back to Iceland in 2009, with all the experience from the Netherlands in his pocket. The album features a trio, a quartet and a quintet, flanked by two larger ensemble pieces. The works are diverse, not only in terms of instrumentation but also in terms of musical subject and give a good insight into Gunnar’s distinctive and personal sound-world. © Sono Luminus
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Classical - Released March 19, 2021 | Sono Luminus

"Caeli" is spun out of the idea of skies and dimensions merging into a boarderless being boasting of a rich and vivid texture, at times carrying numerous worlds inside at once. During the recording of "Caeli", Bára and Skúli would have long discussions about how the world is opening up and how this would and could affect music as well. They like to look at "Caeli" as a product of this openness - a crystallisation of freedom, exposure and transparency in sound. Bára Gísladóttir (born 1989) is an Icelandic composer and double bassist based in Copenhagen. She studied composition at the Iceland Academy of the Arts in Reykjavík, Conservatorio di Musica "Giuseppe Verdi" in Milan and at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen. Bára's pieces have been selected for many festivals. Bára is an active performer and regularly plays her own music, mostly solo or with her long time collaborator, Skúli Sverrisson. In addition to this, she is the double bassist of Elja Ensemble. She has also performed with Ensemble Adapter, the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and S.L.Á.T.U.R.. Skúli Sverrisson (born 23 October 1966) is an Icelandic composer and bass guitarist. He has worked with musicians Wadada Leo Smith, Derek Bailey, Lou Reed, Jon Hassel, David Sylvian, Arto Lindsay, and composers Ryuichi Sakamoto, Jóhann Jóhannsson, and Hildur Guðnadóttir. © Sono Luminus
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Classical - Released February 12, 2021 | Sono Luminus

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Bruce Levingston's exquisite new release, "Prelude to Dawn", features the interwoven, haunting works of J. S. Bach, Brahms and Rihm. In Levingston's hands, this timeless music exudes solace, joy and the possibilities of renewed life. “During the surreal existence of this past year, I found myself drawn closer than ever to Bach. His music brought much solace and peace. Bach has long been an inspiration to musicians, especially Brahms and Rihm. These three German masters represent a thoughtful dialogue that has spanned four centuries. Their intimate musical landscapes resonate with this pensive, solitary time. Some works, like Brahms’ wistful chorale prelude, Herzlich tut mich verlangen, Op. 122 No. 10, reflect the delicate twilight between life and death. Others, like the glorious Chaconne and joyous Prelude, Fugue and Allegro deny defeat. Perhaps the most timely work is Bach’s Wachet auf. Its memorable chorale, written during the Plague in Germany, was composed by a pastor to comfort his fearful congregation. In Bach’s hands, its noble spirit and soaring themes herald a celebration of life. Together, these pieces recall the shadows and fragility of our world, but also the possibility for its regeneration - and a new dawn” (Bruce Levingston). © Sono Luminus
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Classical - Released January 22, 2021 | Sono Luminus

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Occurrence is the third volume in a series of releases of contemporary Icelandic music by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and conductor Daniel Bjarnason. The first two volumes were called Recurrence and Concurrence, and the likelihood that these titles can be connected in any way to the music on each album is low; in fact, Occurrence, where some composers from the earlier albums appear again, might easily have been given the Recurrence title. Quibbles aside, the recordings, whether together or even heard singly in this case, give a sense of the sweep of new Icelandic music. There is a broadly appealing violin concerto by Bjarnason, crisply played by the orchestra's lead violinist, Pekka Kuusisto; the short but monumental landscape-evoking Lendh, by Veronique Vaka, which suggests a contemporary Sibelius; the playful In Seventh Heaven of Haukur Tómasson; the cinematic Flutter, by Þuríður Jónsdóttir, who has worked with Björk; and the elegiac Adagio of Magnús Blöndal Jóhannsson, a work that conductors of other orchestras would do well to study. Best of all is the sound engineering from Sono Luminus, which recorded the albums in three different spaces in Reykjavik's Harpa Concert Hall and brought a truly thrilling level of detail. Recommended to anyone with the slightest curiosity about Icelandic classical music; for audiophiles, it's a must. © TiVo
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Choral Music (Choirs) - Released January 22, 2021 | Sono Luminus

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Chamber Music - Released November 20, 2020 | Sono Luminus

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This recording, writes viola da gamba player Carolyn Surrick in the notes, "exists because of this moment in time. The locked-down, minimalist, intense, and miraculous spring of 2020, which took so much from so many, allowed for this project to come to life with its unexpected creativity, enduring faith, and deep, deep gratitude." Surrick and lutenist Ronn McFarlane found themselves at musical loose ends, without gigs, and decided to play together, and then to record in a free-spirited way, taking up an instrumental pairing, lute and viola da gamba, that occurs only occasionally in Baroque and Renaissance literature. They augment Dowland's Adew for Master Oliver Cromwell (John Dowland) with newly composed works by McFarlane and with arrangements by both players. These are delightfully varied, taking up such works as The Allman Brothers' Little Martha (originally an acoustic guitar solo by Duane Allman, so not as odd as it sounds), Amazing Grace, and Gounod's Ave Maria. Some of the selections veer toward the Celtic folk side, including an intriguing version of Blackwater Slide modeled on one by Scottish musician Bert Jansch. Sono Luminus' sound is, well, luminous, a pleasure throughout. Falling into a class of pandemic-time recordings where musicians rediscovered the enjoyment of home music-making, this is an unusually satisfying example of the genre. © James Manheim /TiVo
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Classical - Released October 23, 2020 | Sono Luminus

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The present release is the exciting Sono Luminus reissue of Anna’s Thorvaldsdottir’s now classic first album. Long out of print, Rhizoma will now be available once again, both physically and on all digital platforms. The original release has been completely remastered by Daniel Shores at Sono Luminus. This release includes the Sono Luminus recording of “Dreaming”, recorded in 2016 and featured on the album ‘Recurrence?’ Rhizoma was a press sensation when released back in 2011.
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Classical - Released August 28, 2020 | Sono Luminus

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Classical - Released August 7, 2020 | Sono Luminus

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Classical - Released July 17, 2020 | Sono Luminus

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Classical - Released July 3, 2020 | Sono Luminus

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Chamber Music - Released June 26, 2020 | Sono Luminus

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The music of composer Halldór Smárason includes liberal use of silences and held notes that are modulated in some way so as to give them an edge. It sounds a bit electronic even when it is not, and here on his debut album, as if to emphasize the point, Smárason includes a piece for guitar and electronics, Skúlptúr 1, that does not depart strongly from the sound of the other acoustic works on the album. (It does depart conceptually: there is supposed to be an "alarm" from the electronics if the guitarist does not jump through certain hoops.) One wonders what this is like in performance, but it does not happen here. The structure of each work is similar, but it takes on variation according to the instrumentation of each work, with the characteristic texture accomplished differently according to this variable. Smárason probably will not be to the taste of those with no interest in avant-garde music, but this music is clear and accessible. It is also substantially enhanced by the engineering of the audiophile Sono Luminus label, an ideal partner to Smárason. The venue is a custom-built auditorium at the Ísafjörður Music School in Smárason's Icelandic hometown, and it brings out every detail of the sonic modulations the composer specifies. Smárason is quite young, and this sounds like the beginning of a brilliant career. © TiVo
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Classical - Released May 22, 2020 | Sono Luminus

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Chamber Music - Released March 27, 2020 | Sono Luminus

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Classical - Released February 14, 2020 | Sono Luminus

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This release of Bach harpsichord pieces doesn't bear a recording location, but the engineering team, led by producer Dan Merceruio, are among the stars of the show. They do a remarkable job of putting the listener close up to harpsichordist Jory Vinikour but not making the experience overwhelming. It would be easy to let the listener be overwhelmed, for Vinikour's approach to Bach is of the most high-powered, brilliant sort. It might be called "Power Bach," and it may bring to mind the old pedal harpsichord Bach readings of E. Power Biggs, although Vinikour uses an ordinary harpsichord, a contemporary instrument inspired by early 18th century German models. Vinikour is brilliant, fast, and loud in this engineering treatment, and he picks music that fits his style. The Italian Concerto, BWV 971, is favored by this kind of playing. The other two works are a bit less common, but they too work in Vinikour's hands: the Overture in the French Style, BWV 831, which was published with the Italian Concerto and seems complementary to it, is a rich set of dances in an unusually large and hefty suite, and the Prelude, Andante, and Fugue, BWV 894/1003, probably chosen for its heavy, crunching final fugue, makes a satisfying conclusion. This isn't your father's Bach, and it's not to all tastes, but it is excitingly realized here. © TiVo
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Classical - Released November 15, 2019 | Sono Luminus

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Take these Icelandic works as representational, as suggested by the titles Oceans and Quake, and perhaps Metacosmos. Or take them as abstract, along the lines of the title Concurrence (and that of the successful predecessor to this album, Recurrence). It doesn't really matter: the perspectives converge in the music, which is virtuosic and dense, yet elemental and viscerally affecting. The four works might be grouped in several ways. Haukur Tómasson's Piano Concerto No. 2 and Páll Ragnar Pálsson's Quake each make use of a solo instrument (in Pálsson's case a cello), and listeners could easily become engrossed in the treatment of the soloist in these two works alone. The soloists are neither representations of an individual in the classical concerto sense nor decorative in function, but rather shift in their relationships to the orchestra, like living beings. Metacosmos, by Anna Thorvaldsdóttir, is the only work that may be already known to North American audiences; it was premiered by the New York Philharmonic in 2018 but receives an edgier performance here. Metacosmos and Maria Huld Markns Sigfúsdóttir's Oceans live up to the monumentality suggested by their titles. Throughout, the orchestral writing is difficult, but here comes off as brilliant, and the four works involved, although quite distinct and reflective of individual compositional personalities, cohere into what might become a new orchestral style that uses traditional instruments and is neither neo-Romantic nor confined to modernist systems. This music requires sound engineering that delivers superb transparency and resolution, and it receives this here from Sono Luminus, working in two separate auditoriums at Harpa Hall in Reykjavik. © TiVo
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Classical - Released October 25, 2019 | Sono Luminus

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Pianist Jenny Lin teaches a course on the history of the etude at the 92nd Street Y in New York, so presumably after completing volume 1 in her series, she still has more where these came from. It's actually a bit surprising that the venerable etude hasn't received this kind of treatment before; if you're broad about the definition of an etude, the genre goes back to Bach's Clavier-Übung and even before. Lin isn't that comprehensive (at least here), but she does pair standard-repertory etudes by Debussy and Rachmaninov with contemporary works by members of a New York collective called ICEBERG New Music. The pieces turn out to work well together: the dual nature of the etude, as technical study and as program piece, remains the animating feature of the genre. Sample the humorously titled but elegant Piano Etude Book I, "No. 1, Obstinata ("Barbed Wire")" of Harry Stafylakis for an especially effective contemporary treatment of the theme. Lin is already noted for her advocacy of contemporary music, but here she brings a greater historical perspective in an album, and one hopes a series of interest beyond contemporary music circles. © TiVo
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Classical - Released September 27, 2019 | Sono Luminus

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Pauline Kim Harris has become a major phenomenon in New York's avant-garde milieu, and her work has taken her around the world as a virtuoso violinist and collaborator with leading artists and ensembles. Joining forces with composer and sound designer Spencer Topel, Harris has created two inspiring works for Heroine, a 2019 Sono Luminus release: Ambient Chaconne, a reworking of Johann Sebastian Bach's Chaconne in D minor, and Deo, another ambient piece, based Johannes Ockeghem's 36-part canon, Deo Gratias. These acoustic-electronic arrangements create a transcendent mood, expanding the original material into myriad combinations and resonances that suggest a metaphysical understanding of the potential of ambient music. Harris has dedicated these pieces to loved ones who have suffered in this chaotic and disturbing time, and the soothing nature of her music is intended to heal, rather than challenge or divide. Ambient Chaconne preserves much of the sonorities and musical shapes of Bach's original, though over its 42-minute duration, the music evolves and takes on a mystical, expansive feeling that goes beyond a solo violin's power to convey the infinite. Deo, with its multiple layers of Ockeghem's canon treated as a loop of thousands of parts, suggests an angelic choir in all its brightness and beauty. Both works, with their contrasting hues of darkness and light, give this album a balanced program that will fascinate and move many listeners. © Blair Sanderson /TiVo
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Classical - Released August 23, 2019 | Sono Luminus

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