It is a great honour for 12 Tónar to finally announce the release of the long-awaited CD of Steindór Andersen and Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson. Six years in the making, this unique album was certainly worth waiting for, as promised!
Rímur poetry is an important cultural heritage of the Icelandic nation. Steindór, the most distinguished Icelandic chanter of rímur, performs twelve of his favourite poems on this recording, accompanied by the mystical and haunting music of the award winning film composer Hilmar Örn. Many of the best Icelandic musicians appear on Stafnbúi, f.e. Sigríður Thorlacius from the band Hjaltalín, Páll frá Húsafelli who plays his stoneharps, and Örn Magnússon who plays on the old Icelandic violin called Langspil, and two string quartets with musicians from the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra. Includes a beautiful 80 page informative booklet describing the history of the rímur and excerpts of all the texts, plus spectacular photos from the Icelandic nature.
Steindór's and Hilmar's work with the group Sigur Rós has received great acclaim and two Nordic Council Music Prize nominations. April 2002 saw the premiere of the large orchestral and choral piece, Odin’s Raven Magic, which they performed at the Barbican Centre with the London Sinfonietta and The Sixteen. The same piece was performed at the Reykjavík Arts Festival one month later to a standing ovation. Odin’s Raven Magic was also performed at art festivals in Norway and France in 2003 and 2004. In recent years Steindór and Hilmar have travelled widely with an ever changing rímur repertoire, which they usually perform with a local string quartet and sometimes local folk instrumentalists. They have performed in Germany, Italy, Ireland, England, Wales, Serbia, Bosnia and Poland and always to high acclaim.
This CD is released to honour the memory of Icelandic author Thor Vilhjálmsson who passed away 2 March 2011, 85 years of age. Thor was a good friend of Steindór and Hilmar and inspired them to work with the rímur songs in the spirit heard on this recording. He knew and valued the true essence and soul of these texts and always encouraged their preservation and performance.
Thor used to warmly greet Steindór as “stafnbúi” when the two met. Hence the name of this album.
"Earlier in the day, singer Steindór Andersen, brought traffic in the Harpa lobby to a standstill with his baritone incantation, performing rimur – traditional Icelandic narrative poetry – to the haunted accompaniment of Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson's electronic landscaping and the earthy clang of a stone harp, a marimba made of shards of rock, played by Páll Gudmundsson. It was a promo gig for Stafnbúi (12 Tonar), a new, beautifully packaged volume of rimur by Andersen and Hilmarsson. The effect, despite the clink of cups at the coffee bar, was almost medieval: hushed and ancient, with icy streaks of digital modernism." - David Fricke, Rolling Stone, 5 November 2012