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News - Spektral Quartet premieres Thorvaldsdottir's Enigma

Thursday, October 17, 2019
The relationship between ‘flow and fragmentation’ is the inspiration behind Enigma, a new string quartet by Anna Thorvaldsdottir which receives its world premiere on October 29.

The piece has been commissioned by Spektral Quartet, Carnegie Hall and Washington Performing Arts, the latter presenting the first performance at the Kennedy Center, Washington DC. Following its premiere, the Chicago-based quartet will tour the work to venues around the US throughout 2020.

The substantial three movement quartet, lasting around 26 minutes, explores the musical space between what the composer describes as a fundamental ‘pulsating stasis’ and its ‘fragmented shadows’. The piece will be presented with immersive video projections created by visual artist Sigurður Guðjónsson which have been created in collaboration with the composer and inspired by the same concepts. The pair previously worked together on a 2014 installation featuring her solo piano piece Trajectories.

The music of Enigma is inspired by the notion of the “in-between”, juxtaposing flow and fragmentation. Pulsating stasis - the “whole”, an expanding and contracting fundament - is contrasted with fragmented materials - shadows of things that live as part of the whole. Harmonies emerge and evaporate or break into pieces in various ways, leaving traces of materials that project through different kinds of textures and nuances and gradually take on their own shape. Some return to the core, some remain apart. Throughout the piece, the perspective continuously moves between the two, the fundament and the fragmented shadows, but the focus is always their relationship - the “in-between”.

̶ Anna Thorvaldsdottir
Further information and performance listings


The premiere of Enigma is the first of a series of significant performances of Thorvaldsdottir’s music in the 19/20 season. These include performances of METACOSMOS by the LA Phil and Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Icelandic and Norwegian premieres of AION, a new work for Netherlands-based New European Ensemble, two ballets featuring her music in Germany and the 50th performance of her breakthrough orchestral work AERIALITY.


Image © Dan Kullman

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