JIJI performs Dynjandi by Gulli Björnsson

JIJI performs Dynjandi by Gulli Björnsson (b.1991). This comes via her fantastic YouTube channel. I’ve featured JIJI a few times and in every performance I really appreciate her creativity and daring performances of new music commissions. You might have seen her mentioned in the recent article by the Washington Post titled, 21 for ’21: Composers and performers who sound like tomorrow. Well deserved. I also highly recommend you check out her recent performance of Harp of Nerves Guitar Concerto by Hilary Purrington.

Impressive playing of this beautiful and virtuosic work. This is part of her UNBOUND! project which you can read more about below. She has such a wide range of playing from the most thoughtful and expressive phrasing to intense virtuosic figuration with limitless momentum. Excellent composing by Björnsson, who also an interesting guitarist with a number of exciting projects on both electric and classical guitar. FYI, you can get the score via his sheet music store. She had this writeup of the work in her Youtube description:

How can you capture the beauty and the intensity of a magnificent Icelandic waterfall? What would it sound like? This is one of the most challenging pieces I’ve ever performed. The piece is called DYNJANDI and is part of UNBOUND, a commissioning project/album concept/recital program and it is to explore what virtuosity looks/sounds like in the 21st century. I’ve asked 8 amazing composers from all over the world; Australia, Brazil, Iceland, Latvia, and the United States, to each write me a virtuosic solo guitar piece. Fast arpeggios, fast scales, or complex rhythm? It’s totally up to the composers’ interpretation. I’m challenged to push my limits as a guitarist and I’m very excited for this challenge.

Here is a text from Gulli Björnsson, the composer of DYNJANDI that you are about to hear. “When Jiji asked me to compose something for her album she asked for something virtuosic. I remember saying back “are you sure? Ok, I’m going to make you practice a lot then!”. As I was contemplating what to compose I was driving from a recording session that I did in the west-fjords of Iceland (my home country), an area I’d never really been to before. In an uninhabited fjord I saw the most amazing sight, the magnificent waterfall Dynjandi (or Fjallfoss) near Hrafnseyri. The intense beauty of the waterfall stuck with me and became my inspiration as I tried to capture the essence of this waterfall in some way through virtuosic music. Dynjandi cascades down a mountainside creating a total of 7 waterfalls, the form of the music is in 7 sections. The core of the work is two voice ostinato-based counterpoint that’s presented in three different ways throughout the piece: spiral arpeggios, fugal counterpoint and clusters. I was thinking of how the water travels down the mountain side; the irregular spiral arpeggios of the piece represent the different irregular sub-sections of each waterfall, the slow sections represent the still pools between the waterfalls and the clusters link it together.”

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