Welcome!

Reykjavík Midsummer Music takes place in Harpa 22-25 June 2017.

I am pleased to invite you to come join us for unforgettable concerts performed by some of today's leading artists.

Víkingur Ólafsson
Artistic Director

22 June

Mozart, Pärt, Stravinsky

20:00 Norðurljós - Harpa

Tradition is not necessarily the opposite of freedom. This fact is illustrated by the original and colourful selection of chamber works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Igor Stravinsky and Arvo Pärt that come together in the opening concert of Reykjavík Midsummer Music 2017. While the works of Mozart heard in this concert bear strong witness to the classical style in all its refined glory, they are also represent the freedom of imagination and creative joy that characterised Mozart’s musical approach. The same can be said for the music of Igor Stravinsky, whose revolutionary compositions were rooted in a deep understanding of the Western tradition – as can clearly be heard in his fresh and vibrant neoclassical concerto for two pianos, as well as his elegy for solo viola. We also hear some of the first works Arvo Pärt wrote in his new and transcendentally simple tintinnabuli-style. Additionally, we here some of the works in which he plays with the past: his baroque-infused Summa and the enchantingly beautiful Mozart-Adagio.

Programme

Arvo Pärt: Spiegel im Spiegel
W.A. Mozart: Rondo in D major
A. Pärt: Fratres
W.A. Mozart: Larghetto and Allegro
A. Pärt: Mozart-Adagio
W.A. Mozart: Piano Quartet No 1
A: Pärt: Summa
I. Stravinsky: Elegy
A. Pärt: Hymn to a great City
I. Stravinsky: Concerto for Two Pianos

Artists

Víkingur Ólafsson, Julien Quentin, Lars Anders Tomter, István Várdai, Sayaka Shoji, Rosanne Philippens

“Absolutely unmissable” — Reykjavík Grapevine

23 June

Imaginary Landscape

20:00 Norðurljós - Harpa

Around the year 1950, American composer John Cage immersed himself in Eastern philosophy, following what had been a serious creative crisis characterised by disillusionment with the music of his contemporaries. Cage began using chance in his music, notably with the aid of the classical Chinese work of divination, the I Ching. It is in this development that this concert’s title work, Imaginary Landscape No. 4 for 12 radios is rooted. In performing this work in concert, we ask some of today’s best musicians to set aside the musical instruments they have devoted their lives to, and try their hand at the radio instead – to free themselves of the regularities and logic of Western music and open their hearts to the unexpected and unpredictable. We embark upon two expeditions through the imaginary landscapes of Davíð Þór Jónsson, a master of improvisation, and continue riding the radio waves in another of Cage’s works, Credo in US, for three percussionists and a radio. Freedom has a more political meaning in the last and utterly brilliant symphony of Dmitri Shostakovich, a composer who spent is whole career treading the narrow path between submission and subversion under totalitarian rule.

Programme

John Cage: Imaginary Landscape No 4
Davíð Þór Jónsson: Improvisation
John Cage: Credo in US
Davíð Þór: Improvisation
Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No 15

Artists

Davíð Þór Jónsson, Pétur Grétarsson, Steef van Oosterhout, Eggert Pálsson, Vilde Frang, Nicolas Altstaedt, Víkingur Ólafsson

“One of the musical highlights of the year” — Fréttatíminn

23 June

Late Night in Mengi

23:00 Mengi

The late-night, off-venue concerts in Mengi have become a cherished festival tradition at Reykjavík Midsummer Music. The intimate atmosphere of Mengi is the optimal setting for our relaxed, friendly and fun late-night sessions where the musicians themselves introduce the works to the audience. Mengi is a short and lovely walk from Harpa, perfect for a leisurely stroll in the bright summer night.

Programme

A late-night session hosted by artistic director Víkingur Ólafsson, introducing artists followed by them performing some of their favourite miniatures.

Artists

RMM festival artists

“Emotionally and intellectually stimulating” — Concerti Magazine

24 June

Ecstasy

14:00 Norðurljós - Harpa

Programme

M. Ravel: Sonata for violin and cello
Z. Kodály: Sonata for solo cello
T. Hosokawa: Ecstasy for solo violin
 
 

Artists

Sayaka Shoji, Rosanne Philippens, István Várdai

“Elevated beauty, not of this world” — Fréttablaðið

24 June

Fantasies from Old and New Vienna

20:00 Norðurljós - Harpa

This concert features the music of Vienna, particularly that of Franz Schubert and Arnold Schoenberg, two very different composers who greatly influenced the development of music in the West. We hear Schubert’s captivating Nocturne for string trio, Desyatniov’s fantasy on the final lied of Schubert’s song cycle Winterreise, the magnificent but unfinished string quartet Quartettsatz and one of Schubert’s best-loved compositions for piano, the Fantasy in f-minor for four hands. Finally, we compare two fantasies for violin and piano, that of Franz Schubert and that of Arnold Schoenberg. At first glance, these work seem to have very little in common. Schubert wrote his Fantasie in 1827, a year before his death, and based it on his passionate lied Sei mir gegrüsst. Such emotion seems far off in Schoenberg’s Phantasy, premiered in California in 1949, as this pioneer of the 12-tone system had done all he could to sever his musical ties to Old Europe. Upon closer inspection, the two works do share a common thread: The very hallmark of the fantasy, a true freedom of imagination.

Programme

Franz Schubert: Notturno
Leonid Desyatnikov: Wie der Alte Leiermann
Schubert: Kvartetsatz
Schubert: Fantasy in F minor
Arnold Schoenberg: Fantasie violin and piano
Schubert: Fantasie violin and piano

Artists

Rosanne Philippens, István Várdai, Julien Quentin, Sayaka Shoji, Víkingur Ólafsson, Maxim Rysanov, Nicolas Altstaedt, Vilde Frang

“World-class chamber music” — Icelandic National Radio

24 June

The Last Tones of Shostakovich

23:00 Mengi

This late-night concert in Mengi features the last work Dmitri Shostakovich wrote in his lifetime, the sonata for Viola and Piano, finished just a few weeks before his death. The sonata is a veritable masterpiece, possessing both tragic depth, clarity and playfulness. It is a fitting work for a late-night concert: In the elegiac third movement, Shostakovich makes frequent references to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.

Programme

Shostakovich: Viola Sonata

Artists

Maxim Rysanov, Víkingur Ólafsson

 

25 June

Feldman’s 5 Hours

13:00 - Mengi

Morton Feldman’s String Quartet nr. 2 is the longest string quartet ever written. It takes about 5 hours in performance, bursting the conventional setting for such works. The quartet is an experiment on time and how we humans experience it – its quiet alterations and ever-changing patterns invite the listener on a meditative journey of one’s own mind, one’s memories, expectations and perceptions. Guests at this concert are welcome to sit or stand, and to come and go as the please (quietly, of course). There will, however, be a prize for those who stick it out to the end.

Programme

Morton Feldman: String Quartet No. 2

Artists

Siggi String Quartet

 

25 June

Finale 2017 – with a Free Hand

20:00 Eldborg - Harpa

Never before has Reykjavík Midsummer Music presented such an extraordinary array of stellar artists from the international concert stage. In a final concert in the magnificent Eldborg Hall, these artists have been given a free hand in deciding on a programme, highlighting each artist’s strengths and passions. In an evening of spontaneity, excitement and artistic daring, it will be the audience’s turn to open their hearts to the unexpected, albeit under the guidance of artistic director Víkingur Ólafsson, who will announce the secret programme from the stage. As always in this festival, the old meets the new, and the familiar meets the exotic. Don’t miss out on this very special concert in Eldborg.

Programme

A programme like none other, to be announced from stage by artistic director Víkingur Ólafsson.

Artists

RMM festival artists

 
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About the festival

Reykjavík Midsummer Music is an award-winning chamber music festival founded by pianist Víkingur Ólafsson in 2012. It takes place in Reykjavík’s magnificent concert hall, Harpa, every second year around summer solstice – this year’s dates are 22-25 June. Since the festival’s inception, its goal has been to bring some of the best musicians of the world together in Reykjavík to play great music from all times under the arctic midnight sun. So far, it has been quite an adventure.

Reykjavík Midsummer Music is a festival for the curious ear. Every year, the programme explores a particular theme that binds together different types of music and musicians, resulting in a kind of creative synthesis. The programming is based on the notion that all the music we play and listen to today is, in a sense, contemporary music, regardless of whether it was composed in the 17th century or the 21st. When works from different times and places are brought together in the right way, each concert becomes a story which has never been told before. And that is exactly how we like it.

 

Our heartfelt thanks to our generous and musical sponsors: