On Thursday, December 1st 2016, Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson (1969), new Deutsche Gramophon artist, gave a concert in Berlin as part the European tour of his new album “Orphée“..
The concert was attended by the composer Hector Marroquin, as a spectator, who has collaborated with SoundTrackFest preparing a brief summary of the evening, which can be read below.
The place, the Funkhaus Berlin, could not be more suitable for the concert, as it shared the magic and mysticism of the music of the composer, now very present in the world of film music, thanks to his compositions for “Arrival “,” Sicario “, Prisoners” and “The theory of everything” among others.
Nevertheless, the evening was not dedicated to his film music but to his concert music.
Jóhann Jóhannsson, who is a musician but is also a cinematographic artist, prepared a show that went beyond the musical essence, with lights and sound equipment, as well as the musicians on stage: 1 violinist (who changed to the harp sometimes), 1 viola, 2 cellos (switching to Glockenspiel and keyboards), 2 keyboardists (with synths as well as guitars and electric basses) and Jóhann Jóhannsson himself to the grand piano, synthesizer and tape recorder.
With a dreamy music that seemed to fly above all the audience, the composer was able to win the admiration of the public from Berlin (mostly young people) with his static works, music almost in black and white, and based on loops and repetitions (a technique similarly used by composer Max Richter), with harmonies inspired by Arvo Pärt, Nordic / Scandinavian music of the last century and a masterful use of silences in his pieces.
The concert, which lasted almost 2 hours, gave us all a surreal, slower world (fighting note by note against our fast and impatient lifestyle), full of moments of reflection or self-discovery, that led the concert to be almost a religious moment – and that, despite of the fact that we heard much less musical notes that what we are used to in this type of concerts.
But there is precisely the talent of the Icelandic composer; being able to create with a few sounds or harmonies an entire soundtrack, with a beginning, development, climax and epilogue, either for a movie … or for the thoughts and the fantasy of each one, who know how to listen to his music.