I hope you enjoy this evocative excerpt from Kalais, a piece for solo flute by the Icelandic composer Thorkell Sigurbjornsson. I recorded the piece in its entirety on my last day in Iceland on the windswept outskirts of Reykjavik. What appeared to be a deserted golf clubhouse was in fact still open, and with the help of an ‘unseen assistant’ gamely swinging the evocative wind hose – as per the instructions at the end of the piece – I gave the piece a solid read-through. For this excerpt, I have removed the headjoint and am playing the tube of the flute shakuhachi-style.
Appropriate for the piece – Kalais was the son of the North Wind, Borealis – a raw wind was ripping in from the North Atlantic over this exposed spit of land, and gusts of wind fluted in the chimney of the fireplace as we recorded. My thanks to the golf pro who was in his final days of shutting the place down for the season – and there was no green fee for playing a few winter links, after I had warmed up in the shelter of the building pictured above! I think he actually got into helping out with this spontaneous collaboration: a bit of native, musical novelty for him before he packed up work and headed off to Orlando, FLA for a well-deserved holiday! (He was not the only Icelander I met who had chosen this destination spot – kinda makes sense, I guess: Iceland, Florida…Florida, Iceland!)
There is something to be said for understanding the context within which a composition is created, and I have to admit that my appreciation for this piece – which I loved in the first place – is wonderfully enhanced after spending just a few short days in Iceland, not to mention after hitting a golf ball into gale-force winds! Mind you, playing downwind? Simply magical!
A lighthouse could be seen down along the coastline, appearing quite close at hand; in actual fact, it was probably 20-30 minutes away, walking distance. Maybe next time I will arrange to record in that wonderfully romantic spot!?
[Having diligently worked this piece up in my student days, I stand by my performance – but on a technical note, I have found that I run into trouble posting mp3’s over 3-4 minutes in length. This piece clocks in at 7+ minutes, so what I’ve done here is simply put my headphones up to the stereo mics and record just these last few minutes. This might explain the strange lack of fidelity (although the stereo effect should still work fine), and I will post the whole piece, as well as fill in the gaps of this story, once I find a solution for posting Kalais in its entirety.]