While still in his teens, Páll Ragnar Pálsson (b. 1977) was a founding member of Icelandic pop band Maus, but over time his interests shifted from a focus on electric guitar and electronic music to composing for acoustic instruments. After an undergraduate degree in composition at Iceland Academy of Arts, Pálsson relocated to Estonia and continued his studies at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, completing a Master’s degree before graduating with a PhD in composition in 2014. Pálsson is now back in Iceland but retains a deep connection with Estonia and the musical language he developed there, which is expansive, textural and deeply organic.

Reykjavic’s Caput Ensemble brings a particularly sympathetic and precise expression to Pálsson’s work, creating a soundworld unified by space and timbre. Much of Atonement is reminiscent of a heavily wooded ecosystem, with gusts and breaths of wind, creaking trees, scuttling animals and rustling undergrowth. Running through this landscape are the liquid lines of Estonian soprano and musicologist Tui Hirv, written with her unique vocal capabilities in mind and the product of a long,...

This article is available to Limelight subscribers.

Log in to continue reading.

Access our paywalled content and archive of magazines, regular news and features for the limited offer of $3 per month. Support independent journalism.

Subscribe now