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The Chopin Project - Selections performed on altered & imperfect instruments with creative recording techniques and ambient sounds / Alice Sara Ott, piano; Ólafur Arnalds

Album Summary

>Arnalds, Olafur : Verses, for piano, string quintet & synthesizer (after Chopin)
>Chopin, Frédéric : Sonata for Piano no 3
>Chopin, Frédéric : Nocturne for piano in C sharp minor (doubtful), KK Anh.Ia/6
>Arnalds, Olafur : Reminiscence, for piano, string quintet & synthesizer (after Chopin)
>Chopin, Frédéric : Nocturne for piano no 11 in G minor, Op. 37/1, CT. 118
>Arnalds, Olafur : Eyes Shut, nocturne for piano, string quintet & synthesizer in C minor (after Chopin)
>Arnalds, Olafur : Written in Stone, for piano, string quintet & synthesizer (after Chopin)
>Arnalds, Olafur : Letters of a Traveller, for piano, string quintet & synthesizer (after Chopin)
>Chopin, Frédéric : Prelude for piano no 15 in D flat major, Op. 28/15, CT. 180
Performers Composers

Notes & Reviews:

Award-winning young Icelandic pop/classical musician Ólafur Arnalds uses a radical new approach to recording the music of Chopin. Arnalds developed an intimate, fragile and often charmingly imperfect sound using old/unusual/altered pianos captured on vintage recording equipment and various mixing techniques to re-enforce feelings of solitude or loneliness, and to create dreamlike ambient soundscapes. Pianist Alice Sara Ott joins and Ólafur has composed new works to link the album together.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: E7 Studios; Harpa Concert Hall, Iceland.

This week's entry in the very-much-like-nothing-you've-ever-heard-before sweepstakes comes from Icelandic electronic musician and composer Olafur Arnalds and German-Japanese pianist Alice Sara Ott, whose recording of Chopin waltzes inspired the project. What you get are recordings of Chopin piano compositions, plus original compositions by Arnalds based on motifs from Chopin. In one case, "Eyes Shut/Nocturne in C minor" (track six), the two are combined. Arnalds' pieces employ his own electronic keyboard textures, plus a live string quintet. On top of this, the pianos are vintage instruments hunted down in Reykjavik, and the ambience, if you will, was manipulated by recording in various venues and with various microphones there. And, on top of all this, Arnalds adds ambient soundscapes (noise, sounds of conversation, whispers, etc.) to the music. The ideas seem packed in a bit thick. The string quintet, for example, was a sound unused by Chopin, and it introduces an element that seems discordant with the source material. But there is a major X factor working in favor of this release: nobody has ever tried anything much like this, either with Chopin or with any other composer, and it just might be the beginning of something new and important. Check it out and decide for yourself! ~ James Manheim



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Works Details

>Arnalds, Olafur : Verses, for piano, string quintet & synthesizer (after Chopin)
  • Performers: Olafur Arnalds (Synthesizer); Victor Arnason (Strings); Porarinn Baldursson (Strings); Hallgrímur Jensson (Strings); Unnur Jonsdottir (Strings); Bjork Oskarsdottir (Strings); Alice Ott (Piano)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 2 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary

>Chopin, Frédéric : Sonata for Piano no 3 :: Largo
  • Performers: Olafur Arnalds (Synthesizer); Alice Ott (Piano)
  • Running Time: 9 min. 17 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1844

>Chopin, Frédéric : Nocturne for piano in C sharp minor (doubtful), KK Anh.Ia/6
  • Performers: Olafur Arnalds (Synthesizer); Victor Arnason (Strings); Porarinn Baldursson (Strings); Hallgrímur Jensson (Strings); Unnur Jonsdottir (Strings); Bjork Oskarsdottir (Strings); Alice Ott (Piano); Mari Samuelsen (Violin)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 24 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic

>Arnalds, Olafur : Reminiscence, for piano, string quintet & synthesizer (after Chopin)
  • Performers: Olafur Arnalds (Synthesizer); Victor Arnason (Strings); Porarinn Baldursson (Strings); Hallgrímur Jensson (Strings); Unnur Jonsdottir (Strings); Bjork Oskarsdottir (Strings); Alice Ott (Piano)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 34 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary

>Chopin, Frédéric : Nocturne for piano no 11 in G minor, Op. 37/1, CT. 118
  • Performers: Olafur Arnalds (Synthesizer); Alice Ott (Piano)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 54 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1838

>Arnalds, Olafur : Eyes Shut, nocturne for piano, string quintet & synthesizer in C minor (after Chopin)
  • Performers: Olafur Arnalds (Synthesizer); Victor Arnason (Strings); Porarinn Baldursson (Strings); Hallgrímur Jensson (Strings); Unnur Jonsdottir (Strings); Bjork Oskarsdottir (Strings); Alice Ott (Piano)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 40 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary

>Arnalds, Olafur : Written in Stone, for piano, string quintet & synthesizer (after Chopin)
  • Performers: Olafur Arnalds (Synthesizer); Victor Arnason (Strings); Porarinn Baldursson (Strings); Hallgrímur Jensson (Strings); Unnur Jonsdottir (Strings); Bjork Oskarsdottir (Strings); Alice Ott (Piano)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 27 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary

>Arnalds, Olafur : Letters of a Traveller, for piano, string quintet & synthesizer (after Chopin)
  • Performers: Olafur Arnalds (Piano); Olafur Arnalds (Synthesizer); Victor Arnason (Strings); Porarinn Baldursson (Strings); Hallgrímur Jensson (Strings); Unnur Jonsdottir (Strings); Bjork Oskarsdottir (Strings); Alice Ott (Piano)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 17 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary

>Chopin, Frédéric : Prelude for piano no 15 in D flat major, Op. 28/15, CT. 180
  • Performers: Olafur Arnalds (Synthesizer); Alice Ott (Piano)
  • Running Time: 5 min. 56 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1838-1839