Ólafur Arnalds & Alice Sara Ott – The Chopin Project (Mercury Classics; 2015)
In the press release for The Chopin Project, Icelandic musician/producer, Ólafur Arnalds, explained the conception of the project: “there has been no re-invention of the way Chopin’s music has been presented since recording began, and I was longing for someone to come along and try something different.” It then became clear that he was the one to do it.
Arnalds enlisted the aid of acclaimed German-Japanese pianist, Alice Sara Ott, and searched venues around Reykjavík for pianos that exuded the right personality for the project. Using the intimate environment and vintage recording equipment, the duo recorded reinterpretations of select Chopin pieces, focusing mainly on themes of solitude and loneliness. Arnalds then mixed his own arrangements for violin, piano and synthesizer to create a multi-layered experience. The result is a captivating, dreamlike ambient soundscape that feel cinematic and modern even though it is based on compositions dating back more than 200 years.
Trial Track: “Verses”