Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
Review: VÍKINGUR ÓLAFSSON PREMIERES EDMUND FINNIS, Southbank Centre

Review: VÍKINGUR ÓLAFSSON PREMIERES EDMUND FINNIS, Southbank Centre

The Icelandic pianist unveils a new work alongside his mesmerising mastery of Philip Glass

Review: VÍKINGUR ÓLAFSSON PREMIERES EDMUND FINNIS, Southbank Centre Making his Proms debut just last year, Víkingur Ólafsson is no stranger to London's classical music scene. Now he brings his searing musical brilliance to the Southbank Centre to premiere Edmund Finnis' Mirror Images alongside familiar selections from his repertoire in a lucid whirlwind of minimalist mastery.

Beginning with a selection of works from Glass that feature on Ólafsson's 2017 album, his interpretation of Glass is particularly reflective, with a soft undulating focus reverberating delicately. Echoes of Glass' interest in Eastern Philosophy linger in statis in the background.

He starts with a particularly mournful rendition of Opening letting the piece breathe and ripple over eight minutes in a gentle but mesmerising trance. He is also not afraid to challenge himself and the audience, launching into a concrete tempo for Etude No.9. He channels the force of a swirling thunder cloud, only to dissipate into the post-rainstorm serenity of Etude No.2. A different perspective on something familiar to illuminate the object in a new light, something he makes look effortless.

British composer Edmund Finnis' Mirror Images, written for Ólafsson, is a fitting choice to juxtapose with Glass. Consisting of a sequence of nine punchy movements, they share a family resemblance but with slight changes in their DNA; both manifest moments of heavy breathing and tight space transcribed within the musical patterns.

Yet Finnis also breaks with Glass in curious ways: a rowdy younger sibling rebelling against the old guard perhaps. He sheds Glass's icy focus on repetition to forge something less contemplative but more lacerating in its vision. He also grants Ólafsson the space to be more personal, less separate. He tells us before that Mirror Images is a piece he knows he will be playing for years to come.

Bookending the concert is a return to Glass with Etude No.20. A curveball of a piece in the context of the other Etudes, its architecture is more flamboyant, something that Ólafsson highlights. It is a mysterious work that feels unsure of itself, a snake with its tail in its mouth. According to Ólafsson, not even Glass himself knew where it came from.

Launching the beginning of Ólafsson's residency at the Southbank Centre, the concert feels like a nod to the Icelandic pianist's past, the pause before the first step on a journey towards the new season. It promises to be his biggest year yet, and if this was just a snippet of what is to come, this will also be his strongest.

Photo Credit: Mark Allan



Taydem Shoesmith To Release Debut Single Are You Clapping? On New Years Eve Photo
Having multiple IMDB acting and composing credits to her name, Taydem is now diving into the pop music market with her debut single, 'Are You Clapping?' The electro-pop/dance anthem, written by Shoesmith, comes from a very personal place; one she hopes will connect with listeners.

Austins Superfónicos to Release New Single Primera Luz in December Photo
Superfónicos will release their latest single 'Primera Luz,' on Friday, December 2, 2022. It's their first release of 2022 and part of their highly anticipated full length.

Eric Hoffman and Ken Hatfield to Release Vocal and Guitar Duet Album STIRRINGS STILL Photo
ARTHUR CIRCLE MUSIC will present Stirrings Still, an intimate set of duets for voice and guitar, scheduled for release January 24, 2023 on CD, digital download, and streaming, with a vinyl edition to follow in June 2023.

Bio Ritmo Celebrates Its 30th Year As A Band With New Album Photo
They keep bodies on the dance floor with a nitty gritty, vintage groove while keeping heads turning with experimental synth tones and electronic textures. They have a fierce, almost punk rock DIY ethos that pervades their attitude and style, releasing their records independently or on tastemaker labels like Merge, Fat Beats and Electric Cowbell.


From This Author - Alexander Cohen


Review: BAGHDADDY, Royal CourtReview: BAGHDADDY, Royal Court
November 25, 2022

There is an interesting theme emerging in the Royal Court's new season. Each play so far has been part of a paradigm shift towards exploring intensely personal stories and questions. It doesn't feel like a knee jerk reaction to a post Covid world. It feels like there is something more fundamental going on.

Review: ARMS AND THE MAN, Orange Tree TheatreReview: ARMS AND THE MAN, Orange Tree Theatre
November 24, 2022

A biting satire on Victorian romanticism propped up by knockout performances

Review: THE RAPE OF LUCRETIA, Royal Opera HouseReview: THE RAPE OF LUCRETIA, Royal Opera House
November 14, 2022

There is a growing trend of operas drawing inspiration from and working alongside the contemporary theatre world. Whether it is collaborations or borrowing ideas, in these tempestuous times for the performing arts our artistic ecosystem inevitably grows richer as a result.

Review: BLACKOUT SONGS, Hampstead TheatreReview: BLACKOUT SONGS, Hampstead Theatre
November 12, 2022

A tender study into the blurred boundaries between desire and addiction

Review: NOT NOW, Finborough TheatreReview: NOT NOW, Finborough Theatre
November 4, 2022

A gentle snapshot of a fractious family trying to heal its wounds