Instrumental Impression from Iceland - CD Gísli Helgason / r

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The recorder has developed from one of the oldest musical instruments of humankind. Primitive flutes were made from wooden branches that had windways carved into them in order to produce a few notes to the enjoyment of all and sundry. Though the recorder has often been regarded as a toy, it is an instrument capable of true magic. To bring forth that magic takes a wizard, however - a wizard who can make the recorder yield all it has and cast a spell over the audience. When Gísli Helgason produces song-like notes through his recorder, he is truly such a wizard. The songs collected here, most of which are composed by Helgason, are ones that the artist has performed during his musical career of the last 25 years and portray his mastery of the recorder. Historically, this simple wooden wind instrument has first and foremost been used to interpret classical music. Helgason, on the other hand, has used the recorder in a unique fashion to bring his own compositions to life and to add vibrancy to ancient as well as recent folk music. One song also features Helgason playing the melodica, another simple instrument which is seldom used with such passion as here. At a young age, Helgason was privileged to take recorder lessons from composer Oddgeir Kristjánsson. Later he claims to have been influenced mainly by composers Atli Heimir Sveinsson and and Jón Múli Árnason; in fact his music has to just as great an extent sprung from traditional Nordic folk music.

Already as a teenager Gísli Helgason had become a household name in his native country after performing widely together with his twin brother Arnþór Helgason. Their cooperation led to the release of the record "Í bróðerni" in 1981. Subsequently Helgason accompanied Danish folk singer Hanne Juul. They performed at numerous Nordic Folk Song Festivals where Helgason was exposed to musical currents that were to influence his own music to a considerable extent. He then joined folk music group "Hálft í hvoru" which went on to release three albums. 1987 saw his group Islandica established. Islandica has held numerous concerts abroad and issued three CD's plus a selection of greatest hits. Helgason's first solo album, "Ástarjátning", was released in 1985 and his second, "Heimur handa þér", in 1991. Through the years, Helgason has recorded a number of arrangements of his own compositions. The present CD holds a number of new recordings of older songs that have been unavailable for a long time. These compositions are now made available in their entirety as a kind of cross section of an original recorder player and composer's work.