Víkingur Ólafsson’s latest album, From Afar, was met with widespread acclaim, praised for its evocative and contemplative beauty. Recorded on both upright and grand pianos, From Afar reflects on the pianist’s childhood memories in Iceland and features works by Bach, Mozart, Schumann, Brahms, Bartók, Thomas Adès and György Kurtág, alongside Icelandic and Hungarian folk songs.
Inspired by Ólafsson’s remarkable interpretations, six contemporary composers have now produced a set of six atmospheric reinventions of works from the album. His musical tales captured the imagination of Álfheiður Guðmundsdóttir, Herdís Stefánsdóttir, Michael A. Muller, Snorri Hallgrímsson, Helgi Jonsson and Christian Badzura. From Afar · Reworks is released as a digital EP today, on 26 May 2023.
Víkingur Ólafsson comments: “I have for a long time been taken by the idea of reversing the creative process of classical performance: to open my recorded interpretations up to being used as compositional material in new works. I am thus more than delighted to witness the wonderful artists gathered on this release doing me the honour of rethinking and redefining my From Afar album, showing ever new ways to think about the music I thought I knew like the palm of my hand. I hope you enjoy the fruit of their labour as much as I have.”
Ólafsson’s renditions of Schumann’s “Vogel als Prophet” have sparked three different but equally creative responses from composer and electronic musician Herdís Stefánsdottir (“Nightbird”), Balmorhea’s Michael A. Muller (“Bird as Prophet”), and composer and producer Snorri Hallgrímsson (“The Plover and the Raven”). Like Stefánsdottir, soprano and visual artist Álfheiður Guðmundsdóttir adds vocals to her rework, “Notturno”, inspired by Brahms’s Intermezzo, op. 116 no. 4, while multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Helgi Jonsson has chosen to reinterpret Schumann’s “Träumerei” for his “Reverie”. Finally, Christian Badzura draws on the style of Brahms’s late solo piano works for his “Sung (After Brahms)”.
“Notturno”, “The Plover and the Raven” and “Sung (After Brahms)” were already available to stream. “Bird as Prophet” is released alongside the full digital EP today on 26 May.