[ Deutsche Grammophon / CD ]
Release Date: Friday 27 October 2023
Deutsche Grammophon releases the world premiere recording of Jóhann Jóhannsson's A Prayer to the Dynamo. This major orchestral work was inspired in general by the composer's fascination with technology, and in particular by field recordings he made at Iceland's Elliðaár power plant and the writings of Henry Adams.
It is paired on this new album with two suites compiled and arranged by the composer from existing material drawn from his Academy Award-nominated scores for Sicario and The Theory of Everything, also recorded here for the first time.
A Prayer to the Dynamo was written in response to a commission from the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. It received its first, and so far only performance at the orchestra's New Music Festival on 3 February 2012. As noted by the festival's curator, composer Matthew Patton, it represented a turning-point in Jóhannsson's career, having been written without any of the narrative constraints involved in composing for film. "He never wrote a piece for orchestra this big, this long, and with this much freedom." This recording will turn a much-deserved spotlight on to a work Patton has described as a "lost symphony" and introduce it to audiences worldwide.
"The music whirrs creakily into life through extended notes, never fully forming a clearly defined shape (reminiscent of Jóhannsson's 2015 Drone Mass)...Bjarnason and the brass section of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra achieve a Goldilocks balance; the horns, while prominent throughout, are never overpowering." BBC Music
"The composer was inspired by the decommissioned Ellioaar hydroelectric power station near Reykjavik, an abandoned industrial space had a lasting aural influence on this four movement work....The music includes sounds recorded at the power plant, and very gradually gains momentum, expanding chorale-like with slow crescendos by brass, and bell sounds from a prepared piano. The unhurried pulse is thoroughly compelling." Tara Jahn-Werner (Marbecks customer)
A Prayer to the Dynamo
The Theory of Everything Suite