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David Denton
David's Review Corner, March 2014

The Icelandic born composer, Askell Masson, created one of the most distinctive musical voices in the second half of the 20th century, and I urge you to hear him. Opening with colourful miniature tone-poems Elja and Ymni, the disc spans the period from 1982 through to the early years of the present century, the disc’s most extended score comes with the Kammersinfonia, which is also his Second Symphony, scored in the conventional four movements. Written for the performers on this disc—the Caput Ensemble—it obviously looks to the excellent soloists they have within their Icelandic group, and their ability to create Masson’s unusual sounds…Maes Howe is in effect a tuba concerto in one continuous movement, its generally bleak atmosphere inspired by the composer’s visit to Orkney…At its heart is an extended duo for tuba and horn before the soloist embarks on a passage—in the shape of a scherzo—that calls for a show of virtuosity, before the finale section ends in peace. Probably today’s most outstanding tuba exponent, Jens Bjorn-Larsen, and the mezzo-soprano, Gudrun Olafsdottir in Ymni, are the excellent soloists, the familiar name of Joel Sachs conducting Caput. First class sound quality. © 2014 David’s Review Corner

Ettore Garzia
Percorsi Musicali, January 2014

…Masson is very special composer who uses the general principles of atonality and twelve-tone series by injecting into writing powerful doses of Icelandic folklore: this mixture generates an unique mosaic of sound, with powerful evocative areas created by the instruments: violins are played on the high range of hues, moving like butterflies wandering: when they don’t develop their traditional work (to play the melody or to support the rhythmic phase in the same way as an ostinato à la Stravinsky) they embark on combinations with the wind instruments, where the latter are supported by different rhythmic lines and multiphonics processes. The aim is to get wonderful areas of apparent misunderstanding of sound…

…is an organic factor that accompanies the pieces: it is something that affects us slowly, for the variety and the wisdom of the combinations, it is the creation of a sort of blameless “dream”, that ties the historical mood of a people with the erudite skill of a composer post-Schoenberg or of an English post-serialist… © 2014 Percorsi Musicali

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