1. Árnason: Eilífur

Árnason: Eilífur

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Eilífur (Eternal) is Icelandic contemporary composer Viktor Orri Árnason’s solo debut and first PENTATONE album, on which the prospect of living forever is contemplated. Sparked...

Eilífur (Eternal) is Icelandic contemporary composer Viktor Orri Árnason’s solo debut and first PENTATONE album, on which the prospect of living forever is contemplated. Sparked by the realisation that medical advances will soon eradicate death by natural causes, Eilífur weaves together a lucid, near-future narrative via a combination of abstract Icelandic lyrics and adept musical storytelling. The scope and scale of Eilífur is reflected in the extremes of its sound, which moves seamlessly from intimate strings and sombre voices to grand orchestral gestures and vast drones. Eilífur explores what life will be like in the absence of death’s ticking clock. Staying clear of the morbidity that such themes may imply, Eilífur is above all a celebration of life as we know it, and an ode to the things that make it worth living. Viktor composed, produced and mixed the album at his Berlin studio over the course of two years. The studio was a hub of experimentation with a community of outstanding award-winning composers and musicians, including Jóhann Jóhannsson, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Dustin O'Halloran, Rutger Hoedemaekers, Gunnar Örn Tynes and Yair Elazar Glotman. Eilífur is a statement, a first glimpse of Viktor’s outstanding abilities as a composer, conductor, instrumentalist, producer and mixing engineer; an ambitious album which puts him in the spotlight after many years working behind the scenes.


Viktor Orri Arnason has collaborated with other composers as a performer, producer, and arranger, notably with Hildur Gudnodottir on her 2019 Oscar-winning score to Joker. "Eilifur" is his first release as a composer. The music recalls his work with Gudnodottir (who is also credited as a producer here): atmospheric but with a cinematic immediacy. Though electronic sounds are rare, the production process is integral to the work itself. Edges are smoothed over and reverberation is amplified. The music itself is soothing and tender yet melancholy. Drones in the low strings give it an earthy expansiveness, from which melodies in the bass and contrabass clarinet bloom and grow. This will have its audience, though the production may be too distracting for many of our readers. I certainly enjoyed it. The notes are rather overbearing: "The album poses questions about the changing significance of time itself and the role that our eventual demise plays in the meaning we assign to our lifetimes." Though thought-provoking, this is superfluous—the music, like much that is composed today, speaks for itself more substantially than the unwieldy thesis statement that precedes it.

-- American Record Guide

Product Description:

  • Release Date: June 18, 2021

  • UPC: 827949095061

  • Catalog Number: PTC5186950

  • Label: Pentatone

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Period: Contemporary

  • Composer: Viktor Orri Árnason

  • Conductor: Árni Harðarson, Viktor Orri Árnason

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Fóstbræður Male Choir

  • Performer: Aron Steinn Ásbjarnarson, Benedikt Kristjánsson, Bjarmi Hreinsson, Carlos Caro Aguilera, Emil Friðfinnsson, Grímur Helgason, Guðmundur Vignir Karlsson, Hafsteinn Þórólfsson, Jósef Ognibene, Örn Arnarson, Örn Ýmir Arason, Sigurður Þorbergsson, Stefán Jón Bernharðsson, Viktor Orri Árnason, Yair Elazar Glotman