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Iceland Symphony Orchestra|A Prayer To The Dynamo / Suites from Sicario & The Theory of Everything

A Prayer To The Dynamo / Suites from Sicario & The Theory of Everything

Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Daníel Bjarnason

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The late Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson was well known for film scores in which he got considerable emotional mileage out of repetitive, almost minimalistic gestures. The suites from Sicario (by filmmaker Denis Villeneuve) and The Theory of Everything (about Stephen Hawking) heard here were both nominated for Academy Awards in their full versions, and the latter took a Golden Globe for Best Original Score. A Prayer to the Dynamo, however, is something else again, an independent orchestral work. Physical and online versions of the album apparently differ in their track sequencing, with this work coming first only in the physical albums. This is preferable, for it is quite an arresting and distinctive work. The title refers to a disused power station in Iceland where the composer recorded concrete sounds, incorporating them into the score as samples. This is one of few pieces Jóhannsson wrote independently of a cinematic context, and it is receiving its world premiere recording here (it was performed by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, which commissioned it). The language is not distinct from that of the film scores, but the samples lend the music a mysterious and somewhat futurist sound. The "prayer" element of the title is entirely apropos. Conductor Daniel Bjarnason and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra offer the clean, somewhat mechanical sound the music requires, and it is well recorded in Reykjavik's Harpa Concert Hall. Strongly recommended to those interested in the potentialities of new film music, and really anyone will find this an interesting listen. The album made classical best-seller charts in the autumn of 2023.

© James Manheim /TiVo

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A Prayer To The Dynamo / Suites from Sicario & The Theory of Everything

Iceland Symphony Orchestra

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Suite from The Theory of Everything (Johann Johannsson)

1
I. A Model of the Universe
Iceland Symphony Orchestra
00:01:30

Daníel Bjarnason, Conductor, MainArtist - Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra, MainArtist - Johann Johannsson, Composer, Arranger, Work Arranger - Christopher Tarnow, Producer, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Piotr Furmanczyk, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2023 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

2
II. Domestic Pressures
Iceland Symphony Orchestra
00:02:42

Daníel Bjarnason, Conductor, MainArtist - Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra, MainArtist - Johann Johannsson, Composer, Arranger, Work Arranger - Christopher Tarnow, Producer, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Piotr Furmanczyk, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2023 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

3
III. The Origins of Time
Iceland Symphony Orchestra
00:02:48

Daníel Bjarnason, Conductor, MainArtist - Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra, MainArtist - Johann Johannsson, Composer, Arranger, Work Arranger - Christopher Tarnow, Producer, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Piotr Furmanczyk, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2023 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

4
IV. Forces of Attraction
Iceland Symphony Orchestra
00:01:58

Daníel Bjarnason, Conductor, MainArtist - Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra, MainArtist - Johann Johannsson, Composer, Arranger, Work Arranger - Christopher Tarnow, Producer, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Piotr Furmanczyk, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2023 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

5
V. Cambridge 1963
Iceland Symphony Orchestra
00:01:58

Daníel Bjarnason, Conductor, MainArtist - Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra, MainArtist - Johann Johannsson, Composer, Arranger, Work Arranger - Christopher Tarnow, Producer, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Piotr Furmanczyk, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2023 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

A Prayer To The Dynamo (Johann Johannsson)

6
Part 1
Iceland Symphony Orchestra
00:08:30

Daníel Bjarnason, Conductor, MainArtist - Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra, MainArtist - Johann Johannsson, Composer - Christopher Tarnow, Producer, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Paul Corley, Producer, Programming, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Piotr Furmanczyk, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2023 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

7
Part 2
Iceland Symphony Orchestra
00:13:01

Daníel Bjarnason, Conductor, MainArtist - Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra, MainArtist - Johann Johannsson, Composer - Christopher Tarnow, Producer, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Paul Corley, Producer, Programming, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Piotr Furmanczyk, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2023 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

8
Part 3
Iceland Symphony Orchestra
00:08:51

Daníel Bjarnason, Conductor, MainArtist - Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra, MainArtist - Johann Johannsson, Composer - Christopher Tarnow, Producer, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Paul Corley, Producer, Programming, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Piotr Furmanczyk, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2023 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

9
Part 4
Iceland Symphony Orchestra
00:08:43

Daníel Bjarnason, Conductor, MainArtist - Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra, MainArtist - Johann Johannsson, Composer - Christopher Tarnow, Producer, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Paul Corley, Producer, Programming, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Piotr Furmanczyk, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2023 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

Suite from Sicario (Johann Johannsson)

10
I. Target
Iceland Symphony Orchestra
00:01:51

Daníel Bjarnason, Conductor, MainArtist - Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra, MainArtist - Johann Johannsson, Composer, Arranger, Work Arranger - Christopher Tarnow, Producer, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Piotr Furmanczyk, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2023 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

11
II. Desert Music
Iceland Symphony Orchestra
00:04:04

Daníel Bjarnason, Conductor, MainArtist - Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra, MainArtist - Johann Johannsson, Composer, Arranger, Work Arranger - Christopher Tarnow, Producer, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Piotr Furmanczyk, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2023 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

12
III. Melancholia
Skuli Sverrisson
00:04:45

Daníel Bjarnason, Conductor, MainArtist - Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra, MainArtist - Johann Johannsson, Composer, Arranger, Work Arranger - Christopher Tarnow, Producer, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Skuli Sverrisson, Producer, Bass Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Piotr Furmanczyk, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2023 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

Album review

The late Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson was well known for film scores in which he got considerable emotional mileage out of repetitive, almost minimalistic gestures. The suites from Sicario (by filmmaker Denis Villeneuve) and The Theory of Everything (about Stephen Hawking) heard here were both nominated for Academy Awards in their full versions, and the latter took a Golden Globe for Best Original Score. A Prayer to the Dynamo, however, is something else again, an independent orchestral work. Physical and online versions of the album apparently differ in their track sequencing, with this work coming first only in the physical albums. This is preferable, for it is quite an arresting and distinctive work. The title refers to a disused power station in Iceland where the composer recorded concrete sounds, incorporating them into the score as samples. This is one of few pieces Jóhannsson wrote independently of a cinematic context, and it is receiving its world premiere recording here (it was performed by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, which commissioned it). The language is not distinct from that of the film scores, but the samples lend the music a mysterious and somewhat futurist sound. The "prayer" element of the title is entirely apropos. Conductor Daniel Bjarnason and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra offer the clean, somewhat mechanical sound the music requires, and it is well recorded in Reykjavik's Harpa Concert Hall. Strongly recommended to those interested in the potentialities of new film music, and really anyone will find this an interesting listen. The album made classical best-seller charts in the autumn of 2023.

© James Manheim /TiVo

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