Skip to main content

Hello, dear musicians !

( Please forgive my English … )

To all those players who are interested in contemporary music for vibraphone from the „classical“, „non-jazz“ sphere, I would like to introduce and recommend a duet for vibes and harp, called „Leysingar ( spring thaw )“ by the composer Kristján Guðjónsson from Iceland.
It´s world premiere took place in Iceland in 2012 and was performed by the Iceland-resident „Duo Harpverk“, which are American harpist Katie Buckley and Dutch Percussionist Frank Aarnink.
I discovered this piece on youtube, where the composer has posted a computer-played version, the music sheets are shown simultaneously in the video.
You may find it on youtube when you type : „Leysingar (Spring Thaw) for Harp and Vibraphone“
At least until end of 2014 the piece was not published anywhere, and I did not find any other performance versions of it in the internet.
Therefore I think that this piece is quite unknown. ( 225 views on youtube )
But I believe it is worth to get known by more musicians, so I would like to „advertize / appetize“ for it a bit.
Although the computer version on youtube sounds a bit unnatural and inanimated, I found it interesting, and the more I heard the piece, the more I felt attracted by that music.
My harp partner and I decided to play the piece, so we contacted the composer via email.
He was very obliging and sent us the music as a pdf-file. And he was so kind to share some thoughts about his composition. I quote him :

„Sometimes it's better to let the music speak for itself and not say to much.
But I'll try to give you some description here:
Leysingar (Spring Thaw) was composed in the spring 2010. The sound of the harp and vibraphone somehow remind me of water and ice. Two forms of the same substance. The ice represents stillness while the water represents flow and motion. This contrast is the center idea of the piece as a whole. The nature and the weather is often known to reflect in people's minds and mood. Although it would seem like a contradiction to speak of a frozen emotion.
The piece is in three movements. The first movement has both elements, water and ice. The crystal like ice and running water. The second movement is slow and could be visualized as the slowly melting ice. The third movement has a harp prelude which is followed by a perpetual motion where the two instruments intertwine. It may be seen as the cold water gushing in the rivers until all the ice has melted. Both in the mountains and in the mind of the listener.“

( Interesting details : 1st mvmt - harp has quarter tones, which is not very usual on harp, I think. 2nd mvmt – vibraphone uses a bow )

Each movement has it's own character, but the composition as a whole is held together by a specific tonality, which I suppose could be one reason for the overall atmosphere.
I did not do a deep analysis, but as far as I can see, the tonality is often build on major and minor triads, which are coloured with sharp disharmonics.
The music has it's very own particular charm and beauty. Once the listener knows about the Icelandic background of this composition and the meaning of the title „Leysingar“ the music becomes very descriptive. It lets me imagine Iceland's landscape : Empty, wide, harsh, snow, glittering ice, melting glaciers …
My harp partner and I like this piece very much, and so did the audience in our first performance of it, too, I believe. The comments we heard after the concert showed me that the music – although it is of course no „easy listening“ - can easily stimulate people's imagination.
Maybe some of you want to hear the music, maybe try some parts, to make your own judgement.
I would appreciate that very much.

Thank you very much for reading !

Kind regards, yours Ulf