There’s something in the air. The music floats around, one can never quite place a finger on it but everyone can feel it from deep within. The audience simultaneously falls into a trance and stays there throughout Haukur Tómasson’s entire composition It Relaxes Me, the Repetition, conducted by Nathanaël Iselin. From the start of the first movement, named Installation and inspired by Yayoi Kusama’s bright yellow dotted felt sculptures, it feels nostalgic. It reminds of a childhood memory, roaming around the forests and talking to the elves living in the stones. Throughout the piece, Haukur teases the listener, building up tension and then lessening it without fully letting it go. His rare use of silence reminds one of negative space in artwork, it has a definite purpose. There is no need to wait or look for colors, there’s beauty in the nothingness. There’s something otherworldly about Haukur’s use of musical shades. When asked about the prominent lightness and bright tones of his music, Haukur smiles and states “I tend to stay in the high notes, use the bass sparingly. I once joked during an interview that I had a phobia of the bass.”
The second movement, Dots, Lines and Curves, makes an instant impression. For the first time in the piece, Haukur uses pizzicato and all the strings pluck powerfully, except for the double bass, keeping the lightness. This whole part almost feels like stepping into Santa’s workshop with his helpers all running around, seemingly in a rush but each having a role and all sharing a common goal. There is controlled chaos, nothing feels out of place. This mirrors the inspiring art, Kusama’s felt-pen pieces also hold the perfect amount of playfulness, of color. As the second movement nears a conclusion the orchestra slowly stops playing and only the violins last until the very end, providing a comfortable ending. The goal has been reached.
Yet another beautiful picture is painted by Haukur in the third and last movement. Infinity, inspired by Kusama’s infinity rooms in which she uses mirrors and lights to create an enchanting atmosphere. Haukur translates this brilliantly. The piano, played by Mathias Halvorsen, starts off with a quirky melody, jumping around. The listener steps into a new world, a magical forest. There are creatures hiding in plain sight, a dazzling harmony of nature. This new world is welcoming and the music is lively and exciting. There is a slight dissonance which later resolves into a soft ending. All the wind instruments have gone quiet, the final tones take the listener by the hand to lead out of the room, out of the forest. They take a final glance at the listener and then let go.