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Mini Stories - A new work by Hafliđi Hallgrímsson - Based on the writings of Daniil Kharms, Caput Ensemble - Narrator Simon Callow

Mini Stories - A new work by Hafliđi Hallgrímsson  - Based on the writings of Daniil Kharms, Caput Ensemble  - Narrator Simon Callow-Viola and Piano-Musical
ID: SIGCD181 (EAN: 635212018125)  | 1 CD | DDD
Released in: 2009
Signum Records
Game Percussion Ensemble (narrator)
Caput Ensemble
Other info:

Hafliði Hallgrímsson is one of the leading figures in Icelandic musical life, and his work Mini Stories sets the surreal poetry of the soviet-era writer Daniil Kharms to music. Whilst internationally renowned actor Simon Callow brings Kharms’s texts to life, the Icelandic Caput Ensemble reflect the mood with stellar performances of Hallgrímsson’s evocative accompanying composition.

Description: It needs to be said that this is not ‘texts set to music by Hallgrimsson’; it is in equal parts a CD of the weird, bitter, absurd little stories by Daniil Kharms (1905-42), performed pitch-perfectly by distinguished British actor Simon Callow, and Hallgrimsson’s accompanying intermezzi, one for each tale. Kharms (Daniil Ivanovich Iuvachev) was an avant-garde writer in early Soviet Russia, a member of a short-lived Futurist-Absurdist group that attracted the unfriendly attention of the establishment. His writings got him into trouble with the arbiters of Soviet artistic ideals; he was arrested, imprisoned, exiled, and he finally died in prison hospital, probably of starvation. The stories run the gamut from from nonsensical and comical to absurd and nightmarish, with a peculiarly Russian sense of the inevitability of death and horror familiar from many better-known poets and literary figures, here expressed with pungent and disconcerting brevity. Hallgrimsson’s music establishes atmosphere, mostly rather chilly and bleak, with a fragmentary, dreamlike feel; each little piece has its own logical form and shape, though, and makes its own narrative statement, increasingly so as the cycle progresses. The composer revised the work five years after the original date of composition to add ‘background’ musical gestures during the narration, unobtrusively lending a greater sense of unity to the overall piece. English texts. Simon Callow (narrator), Caput Ensemble.
HALLGRIMSSON, Haflidi (b.1941) 
1. A Suite1:44 
2. Scene2:01 
3. A Fable1:19 
4. The Centre of the Universe1:53 
5. Incidents1:41 
6. Script1:23 
7. A Sonnet1:56 
8. Rondino1:32 
9. An Optical Illusion1:28 
10. Mystical Navigation2:30 
11. What They Sell in the Stores Nowadays2:05 
12. Red Trees, Blue Sky, Dead Leaves2:04 
13. Petrakov1:49 
14. Singing Lesson2:28 
15. A Play3:13 
16. Left Hand Singing1:20 
17. A Dream3:28 
18. The Ship Sails North3:09 
19. A Young Man Who Astonished a Watchman3:42 
20. March For One2:06 
21. Losing Things2:00 
22. Seven Halos1:23 
23. Victory Boogie-Woogie3:18 
24. Blue Notebook No. 101:24 


"a glorious concoction of Russian surrealist stories … with highly original, sometimes aphoristic and always apposite music that ranged from abstraction to reflection to manic hilarity…" The Herald

"a clever, entertaining, but ultimately unsettling piece of music-theatre. Kharms and Hallgrímsson make you laugh one minute, then feel vaguely guilty for laughing the next." The Scotsman

“It's oddly threatening: brushed drums and dramatic strings provide a full-stop to incidents including death, disease and disappearance, while woodwind ruminates and harmonium adds a miasmic drone.” The Independent, 1st January 2010 ***


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