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From the Ancients to Bjork

Episode 3 of 5

Donald Macleod introduces music inspired by the world's oldest parliament and explores the remarkable, genre-crossing voice of the most celebrated Icelandic musician, Bjork.

Donald Macleod visits the site of the world's oldest parliament - and explores the remarkable, genre-crossing voice of the world's most celebrated Icelandic musician: Bjork.

For more than a millennium, Iceland's composers have drawn upon the sounds of its unique geology: sounds created in a glacial, geothermal landscape like nowhere else on earth. Searing water explodes from fissures; the earth steams spongily underfoot; vast, electric-blue hunks of solid ice crack and collide as they bob down otherwise silent fjords. Yet Iceland's classical music tradition remains barely known. This week, Donald Macleod explores the landscapes and vistas of the world's most northerly island nation - to discover its unique musical culture.

The fleeting flute dreams of Atli Heimir Sveinsson's "21 Sounding Minutes" thread together today's story of Iceland's past both ancient and modern. At Thingvellir, historic site of the world's oldest continuous democratic parliament, Donald Macleod introduces a cantata by Jon Leifs that looks back at his hardy Scandinavian forebears, before bringing us into the 20th century with a charming piano concerto by Iceland's leading female composer Jorunn Vidar. He ends by exploring the remarkable, genre-crossing career - and voice - of unquestionably Iceland's most famous musical export: Bjork.

Atli Heimir Sveinsson: Sounds of the Night (21 Sounding Minutes)
Manuela Wiesler (flute)

Atli Heimir Sveinsson: Sounds of Flowers; Sounds of Heaven (21 Sounding Minutes)
Manuela Wiesler (flute)

Jón Leifs: Iceland Cantata, Op 13
Hallgrumskirkja Motet Choir and Schola Cantorum
Iceland SO, Hermann Bäumer (conductor)

Atli Heimir Sveinsson: Sounds of Men; Sounds of Women (21 Sounding Minutes)
Manuela Wiesler (flute)

Jórunn Viðar: Allegro (Slatta - Piano Concerto)
Steinunn Birna Ragnarsdottir (piano)
Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Petter Sundquist (conductor)

Jon Leifs: Viking's Answer, Op 54
Iceland SO, Hermann Baumer (conductor)

Atli Heimir Sveinsson: Sounds of Rain (21 Sounding Minutes)
Manuela Wiesler (flute)

Atli Heimir Sveinsson: Sounds of Sound (21 Sounding Minutes)
Manuela Wiesler (flute)

Jorunn Vidar: Vokuro
Bjork (vocals).

1 hour

Music Played

  • Atli Heimir Sveinsson

    21 Sounding Minutes - Sounds of the Night

    Performer: Manuela Wiesler (flute). Performer: Robert von Bahr (percussion).
    • BIS CD456.
    • 9.
  • Atli Heimir Sveinsson

    21 Sounding Minutes -Sounds of Flowers/Sounds of Heaven

    Performer: Manuela Wiesler (flute).
    • BIS CD456.
    • 12 & 7.
  • Leifs

    Iceland Cantata, op.13

    Performer: Hallgrumskirkja Motet Choir. Performer: Schola Cantorum. Performer: Iceland SO. Performer: Hermann Bäumer.
  • Atli Heimir Sveinsson

    21 Sounding Minutes -Sounds of Men/Sounds of Women

    Performer: Manuela Wiesler (flute).
    • BIS CD456.
    • 2-3.
  • Jórunn Viðar

    Slátta (Piano Concerto, 1977) - I. Allegro

    Performer: Steinunn Birna Ragnarsdottir (piano). Performer: Iceland Symphony Orchestra. Performer: Petter Sundquist.
    • SMEKKLEYSA SMK9.
    • 1.
  • Leifs

    Viking’s Answer, Op.54

    Performer: Iceland SO. Performer: Hermann Bäumer.
    • BIS CD1080.
    • 1.
  • Atli Heimir Sveinsson

    21 Sounding Minutes -Sounds of Rain

    Performer: Manuela Wiesler (flute).
    • BIS CD456.
    • 11.
  • Atli Heimir Sveinsson

    21 Sounding Minutes -Sounds of Sound

    Performer: Manuela Wiesler (flute).
    • BIS CD456.
    • 13.
  • Jórunn Vidar:

    Vökuró

    Performer: Björk (vocals).
    • ONE LITTLE INDIAN TPLP358CD.
    • 4.
  • Atli Heimir Sveinsson

    21 Sounding Minutes - Sounds of the Night

    Performer: Manuela Wiesler.
    • BIS: CD456.
    • BIS.
    • 2.
  • Atli Heimir Sveinsson

    21 Sounding Minutes - Sounds of the Night

    Performer: Manuela Wiesler.
    • BIS: CD456.
    • BIS.
    • 2.
  • Atli Heimir Sveinsson

    21 Sounding Minutes - Sounds of Flowers/ Sounds of Heaven

    Performer: Manuela Wiesler.
    • BIS: CD456.
    • BIS.
    • 9.
  • Atli Heimir Sveinsson

    21 Sounding Minutes - Sounds of Flowers/ Sounds of Heaven

    Performer: Manuela Wiesler.
    • BIS: CD456.
    • BIS.
    • 9.
  • Jón Leifs

    Iceland Cantata Op 13

    Orchestra: Iceland S O. Conductor: Hermann Bäumer. Choir: Hallgrumskirkja Motet Choir. Choir: Hallgrimskirkja Schola Cantorum.
  • Jón Leifs

    Iceland Cantata Op 13

    Orchestra: Iceland S O. Conductor: Hermann Bäumer. Choir: Hallgrumskirkja Motet Choir. Choir: Hallgrimskirkja Schola Cantorum.
  • Atli Heimir Sveinsson

    21 Sounding Minutes - Sounds of Men/ Sounds of Women

    Performer: Manuela Wiesler.
    • BIS: CD456.
    • BIS.
    • 2.
  • Atli Heimir Sveinsson

    21 Sounding Minutes - Sounds of Men/ Sounds of Women

    Performer: Manuela Wiesler.
    • BIS: CD456.
    • BIS.
    • 2.
  • Jorunn Vidhar

    Slatta

    Performer: Steinunn Birna Ragnarsdottir. Orchestra: Iceland S O. Conductor: Petter Sundkvist.
    • SMEKKLEYSA: SMK9.
    • SMEKKLEYSA.
    • 1.
  • Jorunn Vidhar

    Slatta

    Performer: Steinunn Birna Ragnarsdottir. Orchestra: Iceland S O. Conductor: Petter Sundkvist.
    • SMEKKLEYSA: SMK9.
    • SMEKKLEYSA.
    • 1.
  • Jón Leifs

    Viking'S Answer Op 54

    Orchestra: Iceland S O.
    • BIS: CD1080.
    • BIS.
    • 1.
  • Jón Leifs

    Viking'S Answer Op 54

    Orchestra: Iceland S O.
    • BIS: CD1080.
    • BIS.
    • 1.
  • Atli Heimir Sveinsson

    21 Sounding - Sounds of Rain

    Performer: Manuela Wiesler.
    • BIS: CD456.
    • BIS.
    • 12.
  • Atli Heimir Sveinsson

    21 Sounding - Sounds of Rain

    Performer: Manuela Wiesler.
    • BIS: CD456.
    • BIS.
    • 12.

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