Jean-Philippe Rameau: Les Boréades – The Arts and the Hours (Transcr. Ólafsson) – Víkingur Ólafsson

At the centre of the album is an interlude from Rameau’s final opera, ‘Les Boréades’, written in 1763 when Rameau was 80. Ólafsson transcribed it for the modern piano because its colourful resonance allows for new and interesting textural possibilities in a piece that seems so ahead of its time: its rich harmonies of suspended 9ths and 11ths one could almost imagine Mahler writing in the late 19th century. In the original opera, based on a Greek legend, the interlude bears a somewhat lengthy title: “The Arrival of the Muses, Zephyrs, Seasons, Hours and the Arts.” As all these mythical beings summoned to the stage have something to do with the arts and with time’s passing, Ólafsson allowed himself to call my transcription simply ‘The Arts and the Hours’, with a nod to the Greek aphorism best known in its Latin version as “Ars longa, vita brevis”. Almost three centuries after his death, the legacy of his art is still growing, with works still being discovered, premiered and brought back from obscurity. Watch pianist Víkingur Ólafsson (“Artist of the Year” at the Gramophone Awards 2019) performs Rameau’s ‘The Arts and the Hours’.

“There is a timeless quality to the music that we felt was matched by the spirit of the gorgeous house. It is about time’s passing and art – ‘Ars longa vita brevis’ – and as a counterpoint to the three verses in the music we have three different characters appearing in their respective homes, surrounded by objects they are passionate about and which they have gathered over a long period of time. It is about listening to your heart.” – Víkingur Ólafsson

“As we continued to talk about this, we started to discuss people that are obsessive collectors and go through their whole life collecting specific things, archiving them and taking care of their collection at their home. It is often really fascinating how people can be in love with random things and to see their sensitivity and delicacy that go into these collections.”

– Magnús Leifsson Directed by Magnús Leifsson.

Víkingur Ólafsson – Rameau: Les Boréades: The Arts and the Hours (Transcr. Ólafsson)

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