Release Date 09/16/2016
Jóhann Jóhannsson, the Golden Globe-winning, Oscar, BAFTA and Grammy-nominated composer’s first album for Deutsche Grammophon, is a meditation on beauty and the process of creation.
Orphée traces a path from darkness into light, inspired by the various retellings of the old story of the poet Orpheus, from Ovid's to Jean Cocteau’s. A many-layered story about death, rebirth, change and the ephemeral nature of memory, the myth can also be read as a metaphor for artistic creation - about the elusive nature of beauty and its relation to the artist, as well as the idea that art is created through transgression - by the poet defying the gods who forbade him, to turn back towards his beloved as he leaves the Underworld. The new album is set for a September 16th release date on Deutsche Grammophon.
Orphée’s sonic palette is varied, combining acoustic instruments both solo and in ensemble with electronics and the mesmeric sounds of shortwave radio ‘numbers stations’. It draws on many facets of his previous albums, incorporating music for solo cello, organ, string quartet, string orchestra and unaccompanied voices.
Orphée shows the full range of the Icelandic composer’s remarkable invention and uncanny feeling for atmosphere. The music of the entire album is tied together structurally by recurring harmonic and melodic elements, yet each track sounds fresh, evocative and unique. Orphée reconciles ambitious orchestral and vocal writing with influences ranging from minimalism, baroque music and electronic music. Also influenced by film composers Bernard Hermann, Ennio Morricone and Michael Nyman (who, like Jóhann himself were equally prolific in composing concert music and film music), Jóhann is a contemporary exponent of a tradition that was shaped by composers such as Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Walton or Korngold.
“Orphée is for me about changes: about moving to a new city, leaving behind an old life in Copenhagen and building a new one in Berlin - about the death of old relationships and the birth of new ones”, explains Jóhann. “Perhaps this is one if the reasons I was drawn to the Orpheus myth, which is fundamentally about change, mutability, death, rebirth, the elusive nature of beauty and its sometimes thorny relation to the artist. This album, my first solo record for six years, is an oblique reflection on personal change.”