Gabríel Ólafs Was Inspired By A 1906 Icelandic Folk Songbook To Create ‘Lullabies For Piano And Cello’

[Cover photo credit to Anna Maggy]

Icelandic composer Gabríel Ólafs has released his newest body of work, Lullabies For Piano and Cello, via Decca Records US. A video of a live performance of the track, “Noktúrna,” from Eldborg Hall, Reykjavik is also available now.

Lullabies For Piano And Cello is a collection of instrumental works inspired by Icelandic folk songs. Accompanied by cellist Steiney Sigurðardóttir, the duo tracked the album in Reykjavik’s Eldborg Concert Hall.

Following the implementation of choir and orchestra on 2022’s Solon Islandus, Gabríel made a conscious decision to strip the sound down to just these two instruments. Multi-tracking provided expansive flourishes.

The 10-track album traces its origin to a famous collection of Icelandic melodies called Icelandic Folk Songs, which was unearthed by Gabríel at an antique bookshop in his home city of Reykjavik. Originally published in 1906, this out-of-print tome collated various folk numbers and lullabies with rare sheet music. Gabríel decided to not only reimagine five of the book’s tunes but to also pen five of his own lullabies as an homage to tradition.

He shares:

I have faith in the power of melody, and lullabies encapsulate both history and nostalgia. When I’m writing music, nostalgia is my favorite feeling to capture. It’s a complex emotion because it evokes both sadness and happiness at the same time. Lullabies are core musical memories for all of us, and with Lullabies for Piano and Cello I hope to unlock them for you.

By challenging himself to compose contemporary lullabies, Gabríel has explored his own fantasy world, rooted in the history and mythology of his people, the Icelanders.

Lullabies For Piano and Cello Tracklist: 

1. Fantasía

2. Sálmur

3. Noktúrna

4. Eldur

5. Vísa

6. Mamma

7. Barnkind

8. Frost

9. Bambaló

10. Draumheimar