Kristian Blak

Kristian Blak: Úr Hólminum; Hogboy; Vienne la Nuit; Shaman

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Kristian Blak's striking works for chamber ensemble may be easier to grasp as abstractions than as program music -- which the composer intends -- for they are almost unintelligible in their subject matter. Whether he outlines the shapes of a landscape in Ur Holminum (1995), depicts a ghostly ritual in Hogboy (1997), or uses symbolist poetry as a springboard in Vienne la nuit (1997) and Shaman (2001), Blak employs a consistently atonal, avant-garde language -- often astringent and convulsive in its eruptions -- and his musical references to extra-musical ideas are esoteric, to say the least. Blak's music allegedly has a strong dependency on folk material from the Faroe Islands, but if this is present at all, it is well concealed in the welter of gestures and flurries of disjointed fragments, and may seem quite arcane to the uninitiated. Yet Blak's volatile music is still interesting for its vibrant timbres, changeable textures, and abundant energy, and the vigorous performances by the chamber orchestra Caput, led by Gudmundur Oli Gunnarsson, and the Det Jyske Ensemble are easy to appreciate for their colors and refreshing wildness. This curious disc will appeal most to adventurous listeners, but they will find that a middle volume level is necessary because the recording is quite hot.

blue highlight denotes track pick