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Viktor Orri Árnason & Álfheiður Erla Guðmundsdóttir
Viktor Orri Árnason & Álfheiður Erla Guðmundsdóttir

Árnason and Guðmundsdóttir transform Poems into Piano Poems


In November 2023, composer, conductor and producer Viktor Orri Árnason and soprano and visual artist Álfheiður Erla Guðmundsdóttir released Poems, their collaborative debut album. Its ten tracks drew on the pair’s shared cultural heritage, setting poems by Icelandic poets past and present, as well as lyrics by Árnason and Guðmundsdóttir themselves. 

Now the two artists have returned to the studio to rework five of those tracks for solo piano. The results can be heard on the forthcoming digital EP Piano Poems. “Each piece,” say Árnason and Guðmundsdóttir, “is a little exploration into themes that often sit quietly within us: the interplay of light and shadow, the tangible meeting the ethereal, and those moments of solitude that speak to a deeper companionship we find in ourselves.” Piano Poems is set for release on 12 April. “Words and Dreams” will be issued on World Sleep Day, Friday 15 March, while “Darkness of the Night” will be released on Thursday 28 March, in celebration of World Piano Day.

Piano Poems, which also includes reimagined versions of “Being”, “To the Goddess of Poetry” and “The Body”, works as an evocative whole, its abstract melodies and tender chords woven into a rich tapestry of sound and silence. Like Poems, it offers a reflective space in which thoughts, dreams and the essence of being are articulated through the universal language of music. “It’s an invitation to explore those ineffable aspects of our existence,” explains Árnason. “It’s a humble offering to the vast universe of our collective human experience, crafted with the hope that it might, in its quiet way, touch the soul.”

The first track to be released from Piano Poems, “Words and Dreams”, is inspired by a poem by Sigurður Pálsson. Out on World Sleep Day, it is accompanied by a relaxing visualiser showing a lush woodland scene illuminated by dappled sunlight, recalling the final lines of the poem: “while in August light/transmutes dreams/into words/transmutes words/into dreams”. 

“‘Words and Dreams’,” say Guðmundsdóttir and Árnason, “weaves together the tangible and one’s dreams, much like the relationship between piano keys (words) and the sound they produce (dreams). This piece is a dance between simplicity and abstraction, sound and silence, where the space between notes is as important as the notes themselves. Each chord is a brushstroke painting of the surreal landscape of our innermost thoughts and desires.”

Árnason and Guðmundsdóttir will present the music of Poems live on stage this spring. Their concert at Reykjavík’s Frikirkjan on 16 March will be followed by appearances at the LIEDBasel Festival on 24 May and at Zurich’s Kaufleuten on 27 May.

“… experiencing Poems is like walking through a vast cathedral that is stripped of all its trappings. Nothing is hurried, everything is precisely paced … It is this absolute minimalism which helps to manufacture the tranquility that is necessary for reflection; it is this which allows us to tap into this album’s emotional intensity”.(Louder Than War)

Viktor Orri Árnason: Poems
POEMS Árnason, Guðmundsdóttir
Nov 10, 2023

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PIANO POEMS Árnason, Guðmundsdóttir
Apr 12, 2024

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Árnason and Guðmundsdóttir transform Poems into Piano Poems
Árnason and Guðmundsdóttir transform Poems into Piano Poems
4 months ago
Viktor Orri Árnason & Álfheiður Erla Guðmundsdóttir
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