A feature by Doyle Armbrust
One element that can be traced through Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s catalog is a certain seamlessness, the instantaneous immersion of the listener in a given piece’s sound world. There is no “getting acquainted” period to speak of within the language. Timbre provides the immediate entryway, and the use of pitch is concise but inexorable. While the composer doesn’t often incorporate obscure noisemakers or flurries of novel instrumental techniques, an exception is made here for the rolling of a giant metal wheel across the stage (the tremor). There is a theatricality to the revolution of this steel, as its handler is the only performer on stage save the conductor. Four horns, three trombones, and three more percussionists are instead positioned around the hall, enveloping the audience in pitch-less drafts of wind sound, unisons stretched apart by quarter-tone deviations, and hieratic, ceremonial pronouncements from the alpine bells. The vista is scarred by the wind, but not desolate…nor uninhabited. The question is, inhabited by what?