Critic’s Comments

  • Review on allmusic.com (rating 4 out of 5 stars)
    by James Manheim

The piano music of Icelandic composer Thorkell Sigurbjörnsson, most of which is recorded on this album, encompasses a wide range of concepts and technical procedures, but, as Icelandic-American pianist Kristin Jónína Taylor put in her booklet notes, “Within these works, it is undoubtedly Thorkell’s voice that we hear.” The music embodies abstract concepts such as a unique set of variations in which the theme is atomized into sections, picked up by the variations in turn. There are pieces based on anagrams, as well as loosely representational music. Sigurbjörnsson has written basically serial music such as the Chaconette (track 26), music based on Bartók-like repeated notes, and music using extended pedal techniques (Sindur, track 28). All of it displays a tendency toward short, sharp phrases, combined polyphonically in textures that (as the album title suggests) are reminiscent of Bach’s inventions. Almost every piece reflects a conciseness and cleverness that occasionally spill over into outright humor, not an easy thing to accomplish in some of the idioms Sigurbjörnsson uses. A nifty find from the Iceland Music Information Centre, apparently recorded by Taylor under the supervision of the composer himself.

“Magnificent performance!!”
“Ornate flashiness and unusual strength
“Keen awareness of sound”
“Delightfully full of nuances and depth”
“Genuine and straightforward while at the same time moving, sincere and exceptionally affectionate”
“The Barber Sonata is a pregnant terror and the most difficult parts of the piece were played so brilliantly that I was driven completely out of my wits.”
“A performance I will never forget!”

“The secure, clear and professional performance by the Icelandic-American Kristín Jónína Taylor conveyed the dramatic opposites in the pieces with power, pulse, and character.”

“Continually beating repeated notes of persistent refrains in MA KKNOTT (1993) created great tension and the listeners lived in suspense during Sindur in another-worldly work, floating and full of motion with an inspiring interpretation by the pianist.”

  • Minneapolis Art Institute

“The most outstanding concert heard in Pillsbury Hall in many years!!

“Icelandic-American pianist Dr. Kristín Jónína Taylor mesmerized everyone with her unbelievable talents. The Midwest is very fortunate to have such a world-class performer of Nordic piano works.”