Peter Graham Woolf
Musical Pointers
December 2009

The Edinburgh based Icelandic composer Hafliði Hallgrímsson, formerly Principal Cellist of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra until 1981, is also a leading figure in Icelandic musical life.

Mini Stories (1997/2002) sets surreal poetry by the soviet-era writer Daniil Kharms, who died of starvation in a Leningrad prison hospital in 1942. His fate is echoed in the last of these little stories, about a red-haired man who is 'dismantled' until he ceases to exist … 'an unsettling piece of music-theatre which makes you laugh one minute, then you feel vaguely guilty for having done so' (The Scotsman).

Simon Callow narrates Kharms’s texts brilliantly in English and seven members of the flexible Icelandic new music Caput Ensemble contribute Hallgrímsson’s evocative music which really holds the attention and enhances the effects of the stories.

This CD is an unique gem, gripping from beginning to end, superbly recorded and annotated by the composer, complete with a biography of Kharms and full texts. The music was recorded in Iceland (2003) and the narration in London (2005)—you'd never guess ! I hope they get together and bring it live to Wigmore Hall or Kings Place?

Enthusiastically recommended.