- Featured: Arni Egilsson
- Release Date: 5/3/2005
NIDUR: Bass World 1994 This collection of pieces for the doublebass have been recorded and remastered over the last 25 years and feature soloist Ami Egilsson in a variety of settings, including concerto with orchestra, synthesizer, electronic tape and duo with piano accompaniment. The first piece, the Nidur Concerto for Doublebass and Orchestra, features the Iceland State Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Vladimir Ashkenazy. Composed by Thorkell Sigurbjomsson. One of Iceland's foremost composers, Nidur is a through-composed, tonal expose of the many timbral facets of the voice of the doublebass, combined with beautiful orchestral backdrops that give the soloist much room to breathe and sing. The composer integrates thematic material between soloist and orchestra in a wide variety of ways that are both musical and pleasing to the ear. For his part, Arnii plays with passion, commitment, and great authority throughout. He demonstrates a mastery of conventional string playing, as well as instrumental techniques commonly associated with music of the twentieth century. The Nidur concerto is one which deserves serious consideration by anyone who concertizes on the doublebass, especially those who might be reluctant to perform music of this century. The next two pieces. Questfor Doublebass and Synthesiser by Egilsson and Electronic Study II for Electronic Tape and Doublebass by Charles Whittenberg, cast the doublebass in a more familiar setting for pieces of recent times, the latter being the more atonal and effect-oriented of the two. In each case, the soloist is once again persuasive and comfortable in this idiom. Quest has a very ethereal overall sound, in some ways evoking the great mythological voyages of Jason under the watchful eye of Neptune himself. Electronic Studyll is more strident, but does not overwhelm the solo voice. The final selection, for doublebass and piano and again by Egilsson, is the aptly named Steeped-ln-Pathos. Here Ami displays his most expressive side in a piece which is emotion-filled. The singing quality of both composition and performer is constant throughout. As evidenced by this fine recording, Ami Egilsson exemplifies the multi-faceted musical life required of today's bassist. Never before have the demands upon and expectations of the double-bass been as great as they are today. Ami rises to the occasion consistently, and seems ready to meet any musical challenge put before him. Arnaeus Music AE214 CD Although Hollywood-based Arni Egilsson has lived abroad for 40 years he has consistently championed the music of his native Iceland. Thorkell Sigurbjornsson's 'Nidur' recorded 'live at it's world premiere in 1975 (but re-recorded and mixed in 1988), is a challenging throughcomposed concerto notable for it's adventurous orchestration and exploitation of tonal colour. Egilsson gives a substantially accurate account of the work, which combines lyrical rhythmic, percussive and contemplative elements in a well developed structure. Regrettably, some uncomfortable ensemble and insecure orchestral playing shortly after the cadenza's remarkable collegno solo passage high in the range results in failure to sustain with any conviction the significant melodic material then under review. Of the two other works by Egilsson himself 'Quest' features him as player of both the (electronically altered) bass and the synthesiser, and he produces a fascinating array of effects. However, his more lyrical 'Steeped-in-Pathos'. in which he is accompanied by the laudably free, sensuous piano playing of Randy Kerber, might with advantage have been played in a more sustained style. American composer Charles Whittenberg's 'Electronic Study 2' for solo bass and tape originally dates from 1962. It was revised seven years later, apparently a year after this Houston Performance (Egilsson was then a member of the Houston Symphony Orchestra) was recorded. Egilsson seems to have a perfect affinity with the ever-changing web of musical activity that makes up Whittenberg's style, and the clean precision of his playing of the angular contoured lines is highly commendable. RS 'The Double Bassist' 1999 A lovely example of contemporary classical playing with great support from the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra. A true masterpiece. Tony Bates 2006 VLADIMIR ASHKENAZY Won the Tchaikovsky competition in 1962 and since then has been one of the world's most celebrated pianists and has recorded extensively. He has been active as a conductor since 1970. Ashkenazy was appointed Principal Conductor of the Royal Philharmonic in 1987, Became the Principal Conductor of the German Symphony Orchestra, Berlin in 1989 and the Chief Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in 1998. THORKELL SIGURBJÖRNSSON Is one of the best known and prolific of Icelandic composers today and his catalog is both extensive and impressive. He has been the teacher of the majority of Iceland's composers and professional musicians. 'NIDUR' is Sigurbjörnsson's first concerto for Double Bass and to this day it remains the only Icelandic bass concerto. RANDY KERBER Is considered to be the best studio pianist in Hollywood today. His command of different genrés of music is unsurpassed. Lately he has composed film music and orchestrated for variety of top flight composers such as John Williams and James Horner. ÁRNI EGILSSON has earned an international reputation as a Double Bass soloist, having performed in his native Iceland, and throughout Europe and the United States. He was brought to the United States by the late Sir John Barbirolli to play with the Houston Symphony Orchestra. While there, he established an enduring relationship with André Previn. A versatile instrumentalist, equally comfortable in jazz and classical venues, he has recorded a classical solo album with Vladimir Askenazy and a jazz album with Ray Brown. Egilsson is highly regarded as a leading session player in the orchestras of the Los Angeles recording studios serving as Principal Bassplayers for most of Hollywood's top composers. He has been a Professor of Double Bass at California State University, Northridge. In recent years he has become well known as a composer of works for Double Bass, Chamber Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra as well as Solo Voice and Choral works. 'NORDIC SOUNDS' September 1988 NOMUS, Denmark. ..... ' the virtuousity of the soloist is never in doubt'. Knud Kettlng The Seattle Times Dec.1.1988 ...The quality of playing from both soloist and orchestra is extremely high' Melinda Bargreen Burtlngton Standard Press','Delauan Enterprtse', 'East Troy Nems', 'Elkhome Independent' globa1 News'' 'sharon Reporter'' 'Stevens Point Journal'. December 6th and 7th 1988 'Arni Egilsson/Double Bass (is) one of the world's premier artists.' 'A rare CD, warmly recommended.' Jack Burke 'The Wax Works' International Society of Bassists Magazine. Uol.KU No.l.FaII 1988 'Each piece demonstrates the eclectic playing and compositional abilities of Ami Egilsson....' '....the first piece 'Nidur' (by T. Sigurbjornsson) is a beautiful rendition of the Icelandic soundscape'. 'Quest' (by A. Egilsson)..features some very wonderful and provocative synthesizer effects' Steeped-in-Pathos- (by A. Egilsson): -This pretty ballad-like composition offers an array of styles from simple chordal harmonies accompanying a lyric melody to impressionistic whole tone sonorities. The fine singing style of Ami's playing and the excellent performance of pianist Randy Kerber make this a memorable listening experience.' David Neubert U.S.A. ......' Steeped-in-Pathos' proves A.Egilsson to be a sensitive composer.....' Paul Mertens'Pavlowsky Germany 'Dagbladld Iceland 'Egilsson is a Double Bass Player of great importance. No one should neglect obtaining his recordings'. A. Ingolfsson. Morgunbladid' Iceland ''Nidur': Egilsson's playing is extremely elaborate in this colorful and well written work by Sigurbjornsson and the orchestra responds very well to Ashkenazy's conducting'. E. Fridleifsson. 'Thodviljinn' Iceland Nidur' is a work of extreme beauty.....' 'Egilsson is a master of the Double Bass.His technique is outstanding. His tone big and beautiful and he produces unbelievable nuances. Last. But not least he is extremely musical and has an innovative mind.' 'This is an outstanding recording of a great artist.' S. Th. Gudjonsson 'American Record Guide ' U.S.A. (March/April 1989) 'Nidur' The (Double Bass) concerto has a lovely theme in the solo that is almost Sibelian, supported by an orchestration that is congenial but betrays it's origin as a later 20th century work. After a half-dozen hearings, I have become genuinely fond of it and it's virtuoso solo writing' ... The performance is sonically good' 'Mr. Egilsson is a formidable player.' Bauman 'Fanfare' U.S.A. (Vol 12 No 3, Jan. 2 1989) 'There is precious little Icelandic music on discs, and not a great deal meant for performance on the double bass- This CD makes an attempt to redress matters somewhat, and with notable success. Ami Egilsson is an excellent soloist who clearly deserves our attention, and the concerto Thorkell Sigurbjornsson wrote for him is an attention-riveting vehicle for the display of his talents '...the composition (Nidur) itself, from the initial statement of it's sweetly ingratiating first theme on, is worth the price of admission by itself. Egilsson's own works provide the opportunity for expressive statement and technical demonstration both, while the piece by the late Charles Whittenberg reminds us of the soloist's considerable American connection.' John Ditsky UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL (UPI) July 1989 'Thorkell Sigurbjornsson: Concerto for Double Bass' 'Unfortunately. Most double bass concertos really stink. That makes it doubly nice to report that this one doesn't. It's a neo-Romantic kind of thing, tuneful here, eerie there, an earful of interesting sounds clear through....' Howard Dicus.