The work was co-commissioned by Spektral Quartet, Carnegie Hall, and Washington Performing Arts. The World Premiere was given by Spektral Quartet in the Kennedy Center's Terrace in Washington, D.C. on October 29, 2019.

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  • 26 min 30 s

Programme Note

The music of Enigma is inspired by the notion of the "in-between”, juxtaposing flow and fragmentation. Pulsating stasis - the "whole”, an expanding and contracting fundament - is contrasted with fragmented materials - shadows of things that live as part of the whole. Harmonies emerge and evaporate or break into pieces in various ways, leaving traces of materials that project through different kinds of textures and nuances and gradually take on their own shape. Some return to the core, some remain apart. Throughout the piece, the perspective continuously moves between the two, the fundament and the fragmented shadows, but the focus is always their relationship - the "in-between”.

As with my music generally, the inspiration behind Enigma is not something I am trying to describe through the piece - to me, the qualities of the music are first and foremost musical. When I am inspired by a particular element or quality, it is because I perceive it as musically interesting, and the qualities I tend to be inspired by are often structural, like proportion and flow, as well as relationships of balance between details within a larger structure, and how to move in perspective between the two — the details and the unity of the whole.


Thorvaldsdottir: Enigma: I.
Enigma: II.
Enigma: III.


Sample Score



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