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Bernhard Schimpelsberger

February 28th 2020

Glansvit [official soundtrack]

Phantom Limb continues its new soundtrack imprint Geist im Kino with the release of Austrian composer Bernhard Schimpelsberger’s powerful, yearning score to Swedish ballet production Glansvit.

Written in 1883 by Swedish writer Alfhid Agrell, Glansvit tells the tragedy of a beautiful white reindeer borne into a black reindeer tribe. Condemned to a life of persecution and imprisonment, the white reindeer - Glansvit - eventually succumbs to her heartache and takes her own life. This story of equality and discrimination - still hauntingly evocative and relevant today - was commissioned for a performance in 2018 by Sweden’s Norrdans dance company. Norrdans hired Spanish choreographer Jose Agudo and Austrian percussionist and composer Bernhard Schimpelsberger to realise the production.

Bernhard Schimpelsberger’s compositions for strings, percussion and voice offer a fascinating interpretation of the tenderness, intensity and sadness within the story. He writes “I wanted to create a sound world that was multi layered and colourful. The layers are related to Glansvit’s personally. She was a princess with stunning beauty. Yet she was radical freedom fighter who decided to commit suicide as a protest to her imprisonment.” Inspired by the natural beauty of remote northern Sweden - its icy blues and whites, and the dancing of the Northern Lights - Schimpelsberger worked closely with the dance production throughout his compositional process, travelling to Sweden on numerous occasions over the 18 months of writing.

Equally elegant and eloquent as driving and impassioned, Schimpelsberger’s score could yield comparisons to giants of the field: Max Richter, Ludovico Einaudi, Ryuichi Sakamoto (especially his compositions for The Revenant), but offers a hugely varied palette, considerably wider than easy reference points. Lead track “Anger” stings with broken-voice samples and apocalyptic dread, engulfing its deftly pretty substrata in rising fires of tension. Opener “Enlightenment” carries, upon waves of interwoven string lines, a mournful lament, while closer “The Festival” dances with the time-capsule singing of Swedish folk song historian Ulrika Bodé.

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