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Anna Thorvaldsdottir

Publisher: Chester Music

METACOSMOS (2017)
Commissioned by the New York Philharmonic Society with the generous support of The Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music.
Work Notes
Commissioned by the New York Philharmonic Society with the generous support of The Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music. The first performance was given on 4th April 2018 at the Lincoln Center, New York City by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen.
Publisher
Chester Music Ltd
Category
Orchestra
Year Composed
2017
Duration
14 Minutes
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Programme Note
Anna Thorvaldsdottir METACOSMOS (2017)
Metacosmos is constructed around the natural balance between beauty and chaos – how elements can come together in (seemingly) utter chaos to create a unified, structured whole. The idea and inspiration behind the piece, which is connected as much to the human experience as to the universe, is the speculative metaphor of falling into a black hole – the unknown – with endless constellations and layers of opposing forces connecting and communicating with each other, expanding and contracting, projecting a struggle for power as the different sources pull on you and you realize that you are being drawn into a force that is beyond your control.

Programme note © 2017 Anna Thorvaldsdottir






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Performances
Date
Title
  • 20 OCT 2019
    Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Costa Mesa, CA
    Los Angeles Philharmonic
    Daniel Lozakovich; Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor
  • 05 MAR 2020
    Symphony Hall, Boston, MA
    Boston Symphony Orchestra
    Hannu Lintu, conductor

    Other Dates:
    6,7 March - Symphony Hall, Boston, MA
  • 16 APR 2020
    Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, CA
    Los Angeles Philharmonic
    Nicola Benedetti; Karina Canellakis, conductor

    Other Dates:
    17,18 April - Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, CA

Reviews
For its west coast premiere at Davies, [Metacosmos] emanated as [sic] more a physical experience than an intellectual or emotional one, with the low rumble of upright basses and horns giving way to a string section that conjured the feeling of tumbling downward into a rabbit hole. A crescendo of bass drums took on the tribal cadence of a drum circle, eventually resolving into a reverie of blissful, floating violins. ... The bold performances of Also sprach Zarathustra and Metacosmos showed that Salonen enjoys a challenge.
Nastia Voynovskaya, KQED,19/01/2019
With each work, Salonen seemed intent on exploring the sonic possibilities in this hall, and the orchestra responded with alert, fully engaged performances. That was certainly true in the strikingly gorgeous opening performance of “METACOSMOS,” which marked the West Coast premiere of Thorvaldsdottir’s brilliantly sculpted score (last year, Salonen conducted the New York Philharmonic in the work’s world premiere.). The Icelandic composer, who has described the work as an attempt to evoke “the natural balance between beauty and chaos,” establishes an elemental feel in the opening measures, as low strings and percussion create a primal, almost subterranean sound. Brass, strings, and woodwinds join in, reinforcing the music’s rhythmic structure. The effect suggests deep respirations. Violins contribute a wistful melody, and a kind of earthy dance ensues; as the textures thicken, something massive seems to be born. Salonen conducted with a precise, tightly coiled rhythmic pulse, and the results were nothing short of gripping. As one listener observed, we can only hope for more of Thorvaldsdottir’s music in the seasons to come.
Georgia Rowe, Mercury News,19/01/2019
Metacosmos, a gorgeous and engrossing tone poem by the 41-year-old Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir, proved to be one of those creations whose philosophical aspects are helpful but not essential to understanding. Over some 15 minutes of delicate, gauzy orchestral landscape punctuated by brusque rhythmic interpolations, Thorvaldsdottir creates a series of vivid scenes – each one phasing into the next as if in some kind of phantasmagoria. There is something ideological at work here, no doubt, but often it’s enough just to marvel at the care and inventiveness of Thorvaldsdottir’s fertile imagination — the long-breathed patience with which the piece’s opening minutes establish a sense of scale, the fervor of the clomping dance at the piece’s midpoint, and especially the shamelessly beautiful minor-key rhapsody that draws a listener in not once but twice, as if to say, “You thought I was kidding, but no, I mean this sincerely. This is not a piece which places much emphasis on incident; the point is not to tell a story (Sibelius handled that part of the evening) but to chart an expressive journey from the rumbling low bass note that begins the proceedings to the ethereal high note from a solo violin that marks its close. Salonen conducted the world premiere of “Metacosmos” with the New York Philharmonic in April, and the performance — rapturous and elegantly wrought — was clearly meant to signal his artistic priorities. Also sprach Zarathustra, Richard Strauss’ broad and overambitious tone poem on philosophical themes, made a perfect companion piece to the Thorvaldsdottir. In fact, the melodic and formal echoes – the subterranean opening, the evanescent close, even the recurrence of some central motifs – made it seem a compulsory pairing.
Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle,19/01/2019
Written for a large orchestra and taking full advantage of various timbral colorings, Metacosmos is an eerie, atmospheric piece, from its Rheingold-evoking initial pianissimo to a finale that might be considered serene if it wasn’t for all the equivocal harmonies one can perceive. Cues in this musical tapestry, superbly laid out by Salonen, are almost seamlessly passed from one group of instruments to another. Growing tensions between strings, winds and percussion take the listener on a voyage imbued with amazement but also angst…. In Metacosmos, Thorvaldsdóttir proves again to be an artist of deep originality.
Edward Sava-Segal, Bachtrack,06/04/2018
Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s Metacosmos made a powerful impression in its debut performance, evoking an enormous vista of space and time in a 12-minute span with broad, artfully blended strokes of orchestral color.
David Wright, New York Classical Review,05/04/2018
[Salonen] conducted the radiant premiere of a richly atmospheric piece by the Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir. ... I was captivated by the intricacy of the sounds and colors. Ms. Thorvaldsdottir did indeed take us on a dark journey, episodic yet clear. ... During a few wistful moments, short melodic phrases in a natural minor scale sigh atop mellow harmonies. These seemingly conventional passages actually came across as reflective stops on the promised odyssey through chaos and beauty. ... At Geffen Hall, "Metacosmos” was the highlight.
Anthony Tommasini, New York Times,05/04/2018
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